When unessential retail shopping was temporarily banned, as a result of the pandemic, many retailers found themselves in more trouble. Three months into the lockdown in Europe and the US, writing for barrons.com, Teresa Rivas suggested that under cover of COVID, retailers do what they should have done years ago and close stores – calling it a ‘pivot rather than a retreat.’ It was an elegant solution, but one that lacked imagination.
Smart retailers had already woken up to the fact that to survive they would have to reimagine the whole shopping experience. Some had turned their stores into immersive theatres, while others had set about personalising their interactions with customers. Some did a certain amount of both. The retailers that were the most successful are the ones that redesigned shopping from the ground up, examining and making provisions for every quarter step between a person walking into a store and leaving with one or more purchases.
Now, instead of running for cover, the same approach should be applied to our new way of living and working, which will probably involve going in and out of quarantine for the foreseeable future, and a lot more socially distant interactions with customers. To that end, retailers do not have to abandon their stores and their Store Associates, though they should think about reinventing them so that they serve a new retail business model and not the other way around.
Clienteling & Assisted Selling – key to retail business transformation
Transforming a business like this is no small feat, but fortunately, tools already exist to help retailers adapt and redesign the experience of shopping with them. The showroom can be more digital – Store Associates can be easier to connect with regardless of where you or they are whereas stores can function as nodes of distribution and places to physically interact with (hold, inspect, try out and try on) merchandise as much as they do showrooms.
KIT is a Clienteling and Assisted Selling tool that lends itself to retail business transformation. Amongst its many features, KIT provides a platform through which Store Associates can deliver a personalised and accessible customer service superior to anything the retailer would have been able to offer in the past. Deliverable through either via their website, a customer service phone line or the store telephone. Features such as Catalogue, Search and Profiling means KIT will make it easier for customers to locate suitable products than would ever have been possible just from walking into the branch of a store.
The need, for a customer, to try things on or feel them before purchasing is always going to be there – as is the desire to enjoy the magic of an emporium. Used wisely, digital technology like KIT can help retailers continue to meet those needs and wants, and keep the retail sector thriving.
Opening back up the retail space poses new sets of challenges, including managing and enforcing physical distancing. There will be so much more than this for retailers to tackle, so what are the retail journeys that will be affected in store and how can Clienteling software help?
Payment and POS – taking payment is the life blood of a retail store. However the POS or payment location within a store is a bottleneck where both store associates and customer congregate. They also have to interact with the same hardware and share hardware as Store associates use the same POS screen and Customer the same credit card payment/chip and pin device.
Solutions such as KIT help with payments in several areas. Firstly the payment location no longer needs to be in one place. KIT can allow items to add items to baskets and even take payments anywhere within the store using alternative payment methods:
- MPOS – this allows store associates to take credit cards anywhere in the store with the addition of a Bluetooth or Sled device such as Paypal here, iZettle, Stripe Terminal etc. It also provides the benefits that MPOS payment devices are much more cost effective than a single POS device meaning that you could even have one MPOS device per store associate, which removes the need for sharing any hardware.
- Social payment methods – like AliPay, WeChat Pay or iMessage Pay can be brought into the store. These methods are performed without the need for an additional device other than the store associate’s device and the customer’s device.
Time in store – controlling the number of people in the store is now very important. KIT provides retailers and their stores with their own appointment booking and queue management solutions. There are two main areas that this helps with:
- Queuing when customers get to a store – KIT provides a way that customers can queue up at a store virtually. Meaning that there is no need for customers to wait in a physical line but they could wait in their cars or further away and when their turn is called they receive a notification
- Customer booking appointments to come to a store – for customers to guarantee when they can visit a store the traditional booking system to book appointments is supported with integration using our sister product Matrix Booking. This allows customers to book appointments online, which store associates can see in their app.
Customer Detail Capture – Now more than ever it is important to get customer information and customer consent. This is a challenge in a world where we cannot share a device, paper or even a pen between people. Customer detail capture within a retail store often requires a prolonged period where customer and store associate have to remain in close proximity. Our software enables capturing details and identifying customers whilst keeping a distance. We do this using the customer and store associate devices in unison started on a store associate device and then completed on a customer’s personal device.
Store Associate Collaboration – there are a number of areas that store associates collaborate with one another in a retail space such as sharing best practices, task lists, reassigning work tasks, training, KPI distribution from store manager. KIT provides a mechanism that enables all of these through the app for example:
- Tasks and appointments are managed within the app providing store associates an easy place to see what they need to do and mark them as complete fully autonomously.
- In app learning learning resources exposed in one location
- Bespoke sharing capabilities such as look book for fashion – look book allows senior store associates generate complimentary product outfits that can be shared with both customers and other store associates.
Customer communication – allowing store associates to communicate with customers whilst out of store and at a distance is even more important. To do this store associates will be creative and resourceful using their own communication methods. This poses challenges for a retailer in that it means that they have no view over the communications. KIT assists with this by bringing communications into the app. This gives store associates the ability to create baskets and share products via channels such as sms, email and social channels.*
Buy online and pick up in store – customers are moving to more cautious purchasing with a large amount of online purchasing. For a retailer that has bricks and mortar stores a key benefit that can be offered is BOPIS. There are four parts to enable this:
- The online ecommerce system to take the order which is aware of store stock
- OMS system to distribute the baskets to each store
- A tool for picking the items and getting the items prepared for a customer
- Tool to issue the pick up in store capturing the customer approval
Often stages 3 and 4 are overlooked as to their importance. KIT helps with this section by providing a best in class tool that performs both the task execution and customer pick up completion.
Overall this is a big step getting everyone back to work however it does not need to be as difficult with a little help from a clienteling tool.
The experience of shopping at a certain Swedish furniture store is one that most people have had at least once. Personalised it is not. All shoppers are led along a path decorated with examples of how you can configure beds, wardrobes and desks or sofas, shelving and coffee tables until you arrive in a warehouse like the one at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie to embark on a treasure hunt only slightly less difficult than that of finding the lost Ark of the Covenant. Conversely, when you visit a high-end luxury retailer, you can expect to be treated like a VIP. To have your coat taken, your hand furnished with a glass of your favourite champagne and the display of products you are presented with to have been handpicked for you and expertly matched to your tastes. At least that’s the aspiration.
Between one extreme and the other, from a luxury brand to serve yourself budget furniture shopping, the focus on Clienteling has traditionally dropped off. There are good reasons for this. With fewer clients at the luxury end, it has simply always been easier for brands to keep track of who buyers were, what they liked and what they purchased. Conversely at the low cost, high volume end of retail – the interactions between retailer and shopper have been, of necessity, briefer and too many to keep detailed notes on.
There has also been a cost/benefit reality to consider as you move from the luxury brand towards the absolute bargain basement end of the spectrum. When the very basis of your brand is that you are selling items for less than a pound or a dollar, the cost of the time you spend with a customer will have far less value than if you are selling luxury yachts. However, new technology has changed this equation fundamentally, so that the cost of Clienteling is much lower than it used to be and the benefits are much greater.
How KIT Clienteling enhances the customer experience for any retail business
By using a Clienteling app like KIT, the ease with which you can record and access data that enables you to help and indeed delight a customer makes it crazy not to practice Clienteling, even if you are selling products as inexpensive as a pound or a dollar. If you know a customer is interested in a particular range of products, you can easily contact them, using KIT, when you have particularly good deals on those or similar products, especially if that customer is one who tends to spend a lot in the store, which KIT can tell you. Furthermore, if you have an e-commerce store KIT enables you to set up purchases for your customers to complete.
Meanwhile, between the top end luxury retailers and the 99p or 99 cent stores, there are thousands of retailers whose ability to lure people out of their homes and away from internet shopping has to derive from something other than unbeatable value or inimitable indulgence. These are the stores where KIT helps store associates to deliver a customer experience worth coming back for and telling their friends about. The kind of personalised customer experience you feel you couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. KIT does this by giving store associates and customers access to the full product catalogue, with the ability to save favourites and compare items, leaving the customer confident that they are getting the right product at the best price. KIT can also help with ‘project shopping’ making suggestions and helping to create a package of products for a particular purpose. For example, holiday outfit concepts if the retailer is a clothing store or interior design concepts if the retailer is a home furnishing store.
KIT can also help make the experience of visiting a store much less troublesome by relaying requests for products to the stockroom, expediting their arrival on the shop floor. The app even enables store associates to complete purchases themselves, so that the moment after customers choose to make a purchase they aren’t sent to wait for a cashier, whom they haven’t met before, for an anti-climactic end to an otherwise very pleasing sales interaction. The store associate can then easily follow up with some simple after-sales communication via the app, to reassure the customer they made a good buying decision, cementing their loyalty and boosting the chances that they will tell their friends what a great shopping experience they had.
KIT is extremely easy to learn and it is very simple to set up a full demonstration of the app to see how it can help your store associates improve their Clienteling and your customers’ experience. Just contact the team on +44 203 691 2936 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can use these same details to ask any questions you have or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.
When it comes to gift-giving, one of the reasons they say: “It’s the thought that counts,” is that coming up with an idea for a present that is both fresh and fitting for the recipient can be extremely difficult. However, this offers a great opportunity for the savvy store associate. Indeed, as store associates search for ingenious ways to personalise and enhance the customer experience, it is easy to forget the relatively low hanging fruit of helping people through the minefield of present choosing. Moreover, it is the perfect time of year for store associates to practice their Clienteling skills.
At its core, the power of Clienteling comes from building relationships – listening to and getting to know people well enough to make them feel that you understand their needs. That includes remembering what Auntie Annie thought of the cardigan your customer bought her last year, what toys she gave her nephews and nieces, whether her best friend wore the perfume she chose for her and so on. Back in the day, a store associate would keep a record of those kinds of things in a notebook so they didn’t have to rely entirely on memory. Today store associates have a more advanced tool to record that kind of information, which is not only more searchable, it is also more intelligent, capable of making suggestions and turning those suggestions into purchases with a few taps on a tablet screen.
KIT Clienteling helps to remove the hassle out of choosing products
KIT is a cutting edge Clienteling app that brings a wealth of data and information to the fingertips of any store associate that far exceeds what most humans are capable of absorbing and retaining on their own. It organises the data in easy to access customer profiles and product catalogues, and enables store associates to create personalised product bundles, for example, ‘looks’ for customers of fashion retailers or ‘system configurations’ for customers of technology retailers.
As well as having access to a customer’s purchase history and wish list on KIT, store associates can record notes to keep track of customer preferences. So Sarah will be impressed when the store associate remembers how her nephew, Adam, was more excited by Frozen II than he was by Star Wars Episode IX. However, most advantageously, when it comes to the holidays, KIT enables store associates to communicate directly with customers via the channel of their choosing – text, email or other social media. This is how a store associate can nail it in the approach to the holidays, by offering suggestions that make the customer’s job of choosing presents for their friends and family a whole lot easier.
As a store associate, the trick is to use your knowledge and understanding of a customer to make the right suggestions. Are they someone who wants to express their modern sensibilities by buying the latest thing for their loved ones? Are they someone who needs or prefers to get a good deal or a bargain? Are they someone who would love the kudos of giving the most popular gift this Christmas, but has no clue what it is? Might they even want you to reserve it for them?
While the return on investment from each of your customers’ efforts to come up with good ideas for presents is limited, every gift idea you use KIT to come up with is one that you can replicate for all other customers like them. You can use your store’s data on what kids, mums and dads are buying themselves to make suggestions to other people buying gifts for them. You can browse your store’s catalogue for ideas that might work for people who are especially hard to buy for. You can make different suggestions to different groups, keep track of which of your suggestions are most popular and modify your suggestions accordingly.
KIT is super easy to pick up and can turn a new store associate into a high performing store associate within their first week, particularly in the run-up to Christmas when stores become busier and shoppers become more urgent and crazed. For more seasoned store associates who already have sharp Clienteling skills, KIT provides a toolkit that turbo powers those skills and lifts their sales performance to the next level.
You can see a full demonstration of KIT by calling the team on +44 203 691 2936, emailing email@example.com or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page. The KIT team will also be happy to answer any questions you have or provide more information.
In any undertaking that requires skill to perform well, some seem to be naturals and those who do not, but both parties can benefit from improving their skills – it only takes the desire and commitment to do so. That said, there are also character traits, without which no amount of skills development can help you perform well in a certain role. For example, you can struggle hard academically and still qualify as a doctor, but if you have no interest in caring for people, you’re not going to be a great physician.
In retail there are a couple of character traits that are similarly critical to the successful performance of a retail associate, even if the stakes are not as high. First and foremost is a desire to help others. A store associate with a desire to help others is more likely to have the grit to overcome the many barriers that can come between a customer and the product they need. These include uncertainty about what product would be best, ignorance about what products are available and, most of all, trust in the store associate themselves. Furthermore, the desire to help others can play a big part in the motivation required to develop other skills that could improve how successful they are in actually helping customers.
The second character trait very helpful to a store associate is a desire to make a good impression, not just with their personal appearance, but with that of the store. A well-visited store needs constant tidying, as customers inspect products while knocking over others and not returning anything to where it is supposed to be. So being ready and willing to keep a store’s presentation in the right shape to impress customers when they walk in the door, is an important thing for a store associate.
The qualities needed to shine as a store associate
While the above character traits are the descriptions of things you either come with or you don’t, there are some personal qualities, which might be called character traits, and which some certainly possess more of than others, that can be improved with a bit of effort. Qualities such as patience, empathy, friendliness and resilience.
Patience on its own is extremely important for anyone who wants to succeed as a store associate. Anyone can walk into a retail outlet off the street, so the combination of problems, personalities and senses of urgency they can walk in with is unlimited. In approaching you for help with their purchase customers can very often be their own worst enemies, with social awkwardness that makes it hard for you to build a rapport and an inability to describe the product they are looking for that makes it impossible for you to know what they mean, as well being very unsure if that is the product they need.
While patience will help you with the clever sales trick of not getting cross with your customers, empathy will help you to understand where they are coming from, and help you make them feel more connected to you. Leading to the kind of rapport that makes a customer want to buy a product from you, almost regardless of what it is. Although empathy comes far more naturally to some than to others, it can be developed with practice.
Friendliness is arguably a combination of empathy, patience and a warm predisposition towards others, and is possibly the hardest quality to be consistent with – you can be patient and have empathy without being especially friendly. One of the most challenging things to get right with friendliness is to find the ‘Goldilocks’ zone. To not be over-friendly and not too cool, but ‘just right’. What makes that more challenging than it might be is that ‘just right’ can mean different things for different people. Empathy can help you here, by helping you to mirror your customer’s emotions as well as their body language. And mirroring is worth cracking, as studies at Stanford and Northwestern University show, in which, “sales negotiators who mimicked their partner reached a deal 67% of the time, while those who did not utilise mirroring only achieved a 12.5% close rate.”
The other quality that’s invaluable in a job where you have limited control over your success rate, and 67% is excellent, is resilience. Everyone’s ability to succeed in life depends heavily on their resilience, or their ability to learn from and bounce back from failure. But in any sales job, because only a fraction of your prospects become customers, you experience a lot more failure to bounce back from than if you were, say, a plumber. That said, the only way to get better at something is with deliberate practice, so even if you aren’t super resilient when you start as a store associate, the job will give you plenty of opportunities to practice.
As well as the above character traits and qualities, certain skills are needed for a store associate to perform well. Skills that, once again, some people will have a greater aptitude for picking up than others, but everyone can learn if they are determined to. Skills like prioritising, communication skills, tech skills, and product knowledge.
However, while a new store associate might take six months to develop the skills they need to provide truly inspiring service to a customer, with modern Clienteling software like KIT and a small amount of training, a new hire can knock their customer service out of the park in their first week. They can delight customers with their tech skills and product knowledge while their customers are in the store, then send messages using the app to impress them with their communication skills after they have left.
The app enables all store associates to provide a smooth tour of the product catalogue and make well-chosen suggestions for products a customer may be interested in, based on previous purchases or expressed needs. The whole process of completing a sale can be streamlined using KIT, and it can be used to prioritise customer needs according to their situation. The backend of the app can be securely locked so that a customer who is not in a hurry can look at product comparisons on one tablet, while a retail associate uses KIT on another tablet to arrange for someone to fetch a product from the stockroom, or to complete a sale for another customer who is ready to make a purchase.
Of course, KIT can be used even more effectively by experienced retail associates, but it can work like invisible training wheels on a bicycle for those who still have a lot of skills and product knowledge to learn. That can help to build their confidence and more importantly, while they are still learning, their customers’ confidence in them. For a full demonstration of KIT just contact the team by calling +44 203 691 2936. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.
The reason why you have to win a potential customer’s trust, if you have something to sell, is that there is no doubt you will gain from the sales transaction, but your potential customer has no such guarantee. They need to trust you to believe that the value you are attaching to the thing you’re selling is genuine. Conversely, when a satisfied customer, who has nothing to gain from enthusing about your product, shares their delight with their friends, it is much easier for those potential customers to believe in its value. That is why no one can sell your products as successfully as your satisfied customers.
However, today the competition in retail is no longer just between the perceived value of one product versus that of another, it is between shopping online and spending at least three hours driving to the town centre, finding parking and possibly a long walk to your store. Luring people out of their homes, where they can shop online in warmth and comfort, means leading them to expect to be delighted in your store. Your satisfied customers’ friends may be persuaded that your product is worth having, but if your customers can’t also share some excitement about their visit to your store, given the alternatives their friends may not feel sufficiently inspired to go and get it.
Providing store associates with access to instant knowledge
There are many ways of delighting customers in your store. There are many tricks, visual, auditory and even olfactory effects that can enhance the customer experience. You can also engage the intellect, emotions and imagination with interactive experiences that stimulate these senses, and they can be simple yet still effective. A London mobile phone store recently broke the unstoppable social media meme of two girls screaming at a disdainful cat into a triptych spread across three phone screens in their store window. One girl was on the left-hand phone, the other girl was on the middle phone and the cat was on the right-hand phone. But whatever creativity a store puts into their customer’s shopping experience, at the core of it must be a simple process that involves identifying the right product for the customer, locating it in the store or the stockroom and completing the transaction. The quicker and easier this process works for a shopper, the more delighted they will be.
Until fairly recently, identifying a product and locating it in a store depended somewhat on a given store associate’s experience and knowledge of both the retail outlet’s catalogue of products and where each is located on the shop floor and in the stockroom. This situation was fraught with problems. Most obviously new store associates could take a long time and have many customer interactions before being able to offer a smooth, never mind delightful shopping experience. And regardless of experience, a store associate’s knowledge could easily go out of date fast. For example, a product seen by a store associate in the stock room in the morning, could easily, unbeknownst to the store associate, have sold out by the afternoon. Leading the store associate to misinform a customer of the product’s availability, leading to a long wait while they double-check their mistake, and eventually disappoint the customer with confirmation that they were wrong.
Similarly, not long ago a customer could easily encounter a store associate incapable of understanding their description of a product, or not knowing if the store sold it, or unable to confirm whether it was currently in stock. At best a customer could frequently experience tedious delays waiting for a seasoned sales associate to locate a product or check the stockroom for it.
A modern solution to an age old retail challenge
Contrast that with the situation today, that is if a retailer has invested in the right Clienteling tool. Now a customer can enter a store and be greeted by a store associate, in their first week on the job, already capable of delivering a first class service. The customer presents the store associate with a picture that a friend posted on social media of some shoes that they recently bought. The store associate reaches for their tablet or smartphone running an app called KIT and uses it to scan the aforementioned picture. An image recognition algorithm identifies the shoes and calls up the page in the electronic store catalogue, giving both the store associate and the customer several illustrations and all the information they might want about the shoes, including whether or not they are in stock.
If the shoes are in stock the store associate can tap a button to request that a runner fetch the shoes. Previously, the customer would have had to wait for the store associate themselves find the shoes, and most people who have ever done that can recall waiting long enough to wonder if the store associate was ever coming back. Now, instead of leaving the customer in limbo, KIT allows the store associate to continue tending to the customer while the shoes are retrieved. KIT further assists by showing the store associate the customer’s purchase history and suggesting another pair of shoes, similar to a pair bought previously, that are now available in several new colours. By the time the shoes the customer came in to buy are in the customer’s hands, KIT may have helped the store associate sell them a second pair.
That isn’t the end of KIT’s usefulness in this customer interaction – it is equipped to let the store associate complete the purchase there and then, saving the customer from time waiting in line at a checkout. Thus a process that once could have taken half an hour and still failed to produce the shoes the customer was looking for, can be reduced to several minutes of quick and easy sales support, with unexpected delights thrown in. Even if the shoes the customer came in to find were not in stock, KIT would have been able to locate them in another store and help the store associate complete the purchase with various fulfilment options – pick them up from either store or have them delivered.
Any data your store holds in electronic form that can help a store associate provide sales assistance or complete a transaction can be surfaced in KIT, enabling store associates to personalise their customer interactions and ensure that not only are customers’ purchasing needs met but that their experience is satisfyingly smooth, efficient and convenient. The kind they would rave about to their friends.
It is easy to arrange a demonstration of the software with the KIT team. They will also be happy to simply answer questions or give you the information you need to decide if you are ready for a demonstration. They can be reached on +44 203 691 2936 and by email at email@example.com, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on this website’s Contact page.
In order to build the KIT Clienteling app, and make it rock the world of store associates, Keytree worked closely with a top international luxury retail brand, to understand the business of retail and produce a truly helpful user experience. The result is a high-performance Clienteling app, used by over 10,000 store associates in 64 countries around the world, in 12 languages. It offers a host of customer engagement features and continues to evolve but it will never replace the most vital component of successful Clienteling – personal attention.
Now, the hard limit of an app may seem like an odd thing for its developer to highlight, but we’re doing it for several reasons. For one thing, it’s true, and authenticity is a precious commodity in the world today. For another, passionate store associates are the unsung heroes of Clienteling and we want to make it clear that we understand that. But most of all, you cannot get the most out of any tool unless you know where its power ends and where what you need to put into it begins. The bicycle is a brilliant piece of technology that depends upon some significant input and effort from its rider to make it work.
Writing in Luxury Daily, Martin Shanker asked the question: ‘Does magical thinking have you chasing shiny objects?’ at the top of his article dismantling the idea that in industries where superb service is the true key to success, technology can do it for you. His argument is well supported by research. In a paper titled Consumer Behaviour in Shopping Streets: The Importance of the Salesperson’s Professional Personal Attention, researchers reported on a survey in which they had asked shoppers whether they preferred going shopping at a mall or on the high street and why. The aim was to find out, indirectly and without biasing the respondents, whether personal attention is the main motivation for choosing the shopping location. The number one motive for choosing a shopping location (given by over 43% of those surveyed) was shown to be personal attention including polite and courteous attention, advice, individualised attention, personal relationship and service attitude.
Changing the face of customer interaction
KIT is a game-changer because it was specifically designed to enhance the personal attention store associates give their customers, in a variety of ways, both in-store and remotely. This includes having a profile for each customer that keeps a note of which channel of communication each customer prefers. This one feature, which can be used to target customers, using the right channel, with the right messages about products and deals that evidence suggests would interest them, has a lot of potential power. However, as Martin Shanker explains: “At least 25% of follow-up contact needs to be culturally connecting, not stop by the store, I’ve got something for you.” Sales associates need to suggest events, ask about the weekend, and refer to news and local colour that might be relevant to customers’ lives.
Understanding this kind of relationship-building psychology and empathology is key to Clienteling excellence, and we want to make sure users of KIT know this because we want to set up users for success. We don’t want to lead anyone into believing it’s a magic bullet and leave them wondering why it isn’t making a bigger difference.
KIT remains packed with features that can improve the game of any store associate, even in their first week on the job, for example, by helping them to more quickly locate products customers are looking for. KIT also provides store associates, and by extension customers, with more options for completing transactions quickly and easily, resulting in fewer lost sales.
Meanwhile, in the hands of a store associate, skilful at giving personal attention and building relationships, KIT can take their performance to the next level. For example, traditionally, to achieve a higher standard of Clienteling, store associates would keep a record of their knowledge about customers in a book, rather than rely on their memory. Now, with KIT, store associates can record and organise much more data about customers, in a form that is more accessible and usable.
The truth is that most people have strengths and weaknesses in their relationship-building skillset, so most of us have skills we could work on. It can be extremely uncomfortable and difficult to work on the things we aren’t great at doing, but not impossible if we are willing to put the effort in. It is well worth putting in the time to improve your interpersonal skills if you want a career in retail.
The good news is, by contrast, setting up a demonstration of KIT is extremely easy. Just give the team a call on +44 203 691 2936, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the short form on our Contact page.
Identifying patterns of customer behaviour in your market is critical to informing your sales and marketing strategy and finding ways to increase sales. In retail, as an obvious example, if a particular product is flying off the shelves, you’ll want to put it in the window. Possibly even after it has sold out. However, not all patterns are easy to see at first. It is harder to notice if customers whose first purchase was a sweater are over three times more likely to buy again in their first 90 days than customers who started by buying in other categories.
While pattern recognition is one of the human mind’s greatest strengths, it is simultaneously one of its greatest weaknesses. The constant vigilance of our subconscious hunt for patterns can be extremely useful in quickly revealing threats and opportunities. However, our pattern recognition is also relatively short-sighted and inclined to propel us into action based on too few data points. We need help to tell which dots should be connected to those that shouldn’t.
While data about macro patterns might be relatively easy for a store associate to access, such as what is trending globally, in a specific country or for a particular brand, it could be harder to know, at a local level, what the patterns are. Socio-economic and cultural differences between customers in one location can vary substantially from those in another location for the same brand just a few miles away. For this reason, the most valuable data is obtained and applied at the coal face, in a particular location, in a particular store.
For example, a men’s clothing store might attract its target audience in one area, but 10 miles away more women may be making more purchases from the same brand, for their partners or family. Being aware of this, and even what is behind it, is important to know because the next thing for a store associate to do with the information about who is buying what in their store, is use it in their Clienteling approach.
The art of Clienteling
Clienteling is the art of personalising the customer experience, by anticipating a customer’s wants and needs and minimising the effort they have to put in to find retail fulfilment. The better a store associate can identify the patterns in groups of customers as well as particular individuals, the better they will be at Clienteling.
Fortunately for retail associates, help with both pattern recognition and Clienteling is now available in the form of KIT (Keytree In-store Technology) an app which is, among other things, designed to collect customer data over time and make it easier to identify patterns and trends in individual customers’ behaviour as well as across customer segments. By recording purchasing history, both online and in-store, as well as basic demographics and other details that are available, KIT makes it easier to notice patterns in purchasing behaviour across ages, genders, interests and other profile characteristics. It then makes it easier for retail associates to communicate with customers and present each one with the opportunities they are most likely to find attractive.
As well as providing the micro view of what an individual customer likes by way of products and customer experience, KIT also helps store associates locate and complete purchases for products both in-store and available elsewhere, all of which takes the friction out of shopping, provides a great Clienteling experience, which in turn promotes brand loyalty, return visits and more sales.
KIT was built collaboratively with experts in retail and is designed to be so easy to use that a store associate can hand a tablet running the app to a customer, to give them the freedom to search and browse stock for the products they need. There are over 10,000 sales associates in 64 countries worldwide currently using KIT to assist them in both basic sales and clienteling. The app is available in 12 languages and it’s easy to arrange a demonstration to see how it could work for you. Just call +44 203 691 2936, email email@example.com or complete the short form on our Contact page.
As much as people like to believe their purchasing decisions are more rational than emotional, sales are often based more upon how a customer feels than how good a fit is a product or service. Those feelings will have something to do with the products or services being purchased of course, but they also have a lot to do with feelings towards the retailer. So it behoves retailers to build strong relationships with their customers and the best way to do that, is to get to know them, individually. This is the reason why Clienteling, the art of personalising customer experiences, is one sales associates should adopt.
One of the biggest challenges with getting to know someone is ensuring that you start off on the right foot – quickly identifying who you are talking to really helps but there are many different ways of doing that. It helps to adjust your conversation to relate better to the customer you’re talking to based on age or where they come from, but this can be tricky as looks can often be deceiving. It is safer much easier to use the information given to you from the customer – rather than make an assumption based on superficial impressions. The more data you possess about a person, the more accurate your picture of who they are. Nonetheless, figuring out as much as you can, quickly, is still an advantage.
Understanding the personality traits of a customer
Fortunately, people have been studying human psychology for a while now, and a sort of consensus has been reached about the different personality types a sales associate should be familiar with, to help them quickly understand how best to approach the customer they have only just met. Although more types have been suggested, most of the customer personality models describe four. You’ll see them called different things in different places, but whatever they’re called, more or less the same four types of personalities are described by all of them.
There’s the thinker or owl, who wants to do thorough research before making a purchase. There’s the dominator or rhino, who can sometimes appear rude or aggressive when they don’t mean to, they simply want to cut to the chase as fast as possible. There’s the influencer/follower, who wants to be a trendsetter, to have the latest thing, but also does not want to be left out, so has the trend following tendencies too. Finally, there’s the relator or love bird, who is caring, loyal, open, wants to get to know you and wants you to get to know them. Doing a little research into these four personality types is well worth the investment for store associates who want to get each customer relationship off to a good start. For the store associate that wants to go the extra mile, the KIT Clienteling app is at your service.
For the dominator/rhino, KIT helps by providing a fast and clear view of what products are in stock, and what the purchasing options are for products not currently in store – especially helpful for new employees less familiar with the catalogue. For the influencer/follower, KIT helps store associates keep up to date regarding the best sellers and the latest deals. The thinker/owl can be handed a tablet running KIT and invited to take their time browsing a comprehensive catalogue of products, deals and purchasing options. Finally, the relator or lovebird, who may not buy anything on their first visit, will appreciate the value of having their profile set up on KIT, as an investment in their relationship.
With all customer personality types, setting up a profile on KIT and building an increasingly rounded picture of a customer, will help store associates both to maintain the relationship between visits to the store and during visits. As time goes by, more data recorded in KIT provides more insights into the best approach for each customer. Customers may have similar personality types that are important to understand, but individually they have different needs, product preferences, and purchasing habits and KIT helps you develop your understanding of those too.
KIT is currently in use by over 10,000 sales associates, in 64 countries and in 12 languages, and if you would like a demonstration to see how it could work for you, please call us on +44 203 691 2936, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the short form on our Contact page.
Disruptive Retail Technology – causing a commotion
Technology changes the way we work, communicate and interact with each other, but the use of technology in retail is disrupting the whole sector. Advancements in retail technology have seen considerable improvements in the customer experience but what’s the real benefit?
The customer journey, no matter the channel, is a 360-degree experience of the brand. Disruptive Retail Technology pulls together every avenue to market taken by the customer. The customer benefits by having all historical shopping data and preferences in one central location and are notified of offers, deals or new product lines via a personalised account. The brand and store associate benefit by having access to the same customer information via Keytree In-store Technology (KIT), which empowers the store associate with instant access to stock, inventory and customer preferences.
KIT is a prime example of how retail technology is pushing the envelope when it comes to providing customers with a fully rounded shopping experience but how will technology impact the retail sector – what will change?
The man-machine – the rise of the robots
Folding sweaters, opening and closing the store, checking out customers and being the brand expert have traditionally been the responsibility of the store associate. But for how much longer? Stores are already testing, and in some cases using robots, which can carry out and execute some of the more traditional in-store tasks. There’s no concern around manoeuvrability as sensors embedded in robots will ensure they avoid bumping into customers.
Robots can relieve the store associate of specific tasks and if a customer has a question the robot is unable to answer – they start a live video conferencing session with an operative who can assist. The human element will always be required at some point in the customer journey, but maybe the use of robot technology in retail will free up valuable time for the store associate to spend more time with the customer.
The future of the store
KIT acts as the conduit connecting hardware, sensors, POS systems, Wi-Fi access points, and RFID networks and also leverages iBeacon and Bluetooth technologies to identify nearby customers.
The store of the future will not only identify a customer upon entry – Beacons will bridge the physical and online experience and push content to your device when walking down a particular aisle. Once an item is chosen there will be no need to search for a changing room – smart mirrors will superimpose the item onto the customer. There is no need to undress, or even worry about the product being in stock as the smart mirror can superimpose any object onto the customer.
An auto checkout will enhance the shopping experience even further. The store knows you have arrived, notifications are pointing you to the part of the store you’ll visit next and all the while – there’s no need to stand in line and pay for the items gathered. Walk out of the store and the items are scanned and charged to your account.
The increased use of technology in retail will provide obvious benefits for the customer, but for the brand, a superior level of data is now gathered on a daily basis, which will give the store associate a much-needed advantage over competitors – and inform future strategies for the organisation.
Disruptive Retail Technology will see the customer journey and experience altered in many ways. Although technology becomes more commonplace it can never provide the genuinely personal touch, which will always come from human interaction.
Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) is now available on the SAP App Centre – the digital marketplace where customers can discover, buy and manage access to innovations across all SAP lines of business and platform groups.
The announcement was made at Sapphire 2018 in The SAP Gold Guide report, which outlines the SAP Customer Experience vision and strategy featuring a selection of case studies, which includes a profile of KIT.
The SAP App Centre has 1,500 enterprise-class apps from 1,000 SAP partners, providing customers with real-time access to innovative solutions, microservices and plugins to extend their SAP solutions and help digitally transform their business.
Maximising your investment
SAP customers can maximise their investments in SAP solutions and address their most demanding business challenges with a mix of free and paid partner Apps – all designed to help their business. They can take advantage of seamless integration into their existing landscapes and gain immediate access to their apps from a launchpad that is enabled with Single Sign-On. With streamlined procurement, designed for the enterprise, customers can manage the entire lifecycle of their purchases, from license acquisition to user management and renewals, simply and centrally.
The SAP App Centre simplifies the enterprise procurement process by bringing it into a digital form-factor. Customers can buy application licenses directly from SAP partners, with the flexibility to negotiate and receive the best price, including support for custom terms and conditions. They can then centrally manage multiple application subscriptions, billing and vendor communications in a unified experience.
Customers have a choice to either receive and pay invoices using SAP Ariba Pay or credit cards, or they can choose to settle outside of the system. SAP App Centre supports roles- based, workflow-driven orders, and also includes support for multiple currencies and application usage analytics.
Purchasing KIT through The SAP App Centre
KIT provides a complete omni-channel view of customer activity, allowing store associates immediate access to customer needs, preferences and purchasing history.
Speaking at Sapphire 2018, Adrian Slater, Head of Retail at Keytree explained that KIT connects store associates with customers. He said: “When a customer walks into the store, the sales associate can bring up all their previous info, look at all the available products on the app, without having to leave the customer’s side – the storeroom can bring out the products.”
KIT is built using machine learning and speech and image recognition. The app connects hardware, sensors, POS systems, Wi-Fi access points, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) networks, iBeacon and Bluetooth technologies to identify nearby customers (integrating loyalty apps and Apple Passbook).
Features include Style Builder, which groups products so a customer can see how they might fit together, and tech that allows the sales associate to push content to a nearby TV screen. The app also enables the store associate to communicate via SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat and wider social media channels during and after the transaction. KIT also fits into existing technology sitting on top of a retailer’s SAP Customer Experience technology and easily integrates with back-end systems without the need for new, expensive software
The KIT dashboard allows the user to manage tasks centrally, creating, editing and managing tasks, calendars, team meetings and client appointments directly from the app.
Designed in collaboration with SAP and Apple, KIT sits on SAP Cloud Platform and integrates directly with the SAP for Retail solutions.
How physical and digital retail experiences can successfully converge in the hands of the store associate
As retailers continue to modernise and invest in the in-store experience the world of online retail is now recognised as an integral part of the bricks and mortar experience, a synchronisation referred to as retail convergence. Although lavish fittings and interior design are still key components of high end fashion retail it all starts with the store associate. This role is at the very beginning of the transformational journey.
In the past, and even today inside some retailers, the store associate had little insight into their customer’s needs, tastes and habits. Customer information was held in distant CRM systems or fragmented among multiple sources and only accessible to those who often did not have direct contact with the customer. Without quick and easy access to this data, it was next to impossible for the store associate to track buying patterns & preferences and therefore provide an in-store experience that encouraged and nurtured customer loyalty long term.
Invest in the store associate
By giving the store associate real-time access to stockroom inventory, the ability to jump the checkout queue and continuous communication with the customer – retailers not only bring the online world into the physical store but also give store associates a new toolset that will dramatically transform and improve their working day.
The store associate should be more than a person who replenishes stock or directs a customer to the nearest checkout. For example with the right technology such as a Lookbook app, they can engage with customers even when they are physically not in the store by creating engaging content based on a customer’s interests, which they can then share via email or text.
The store associate can build trust within the brand – they can know when a registered customer has entered the store, allowing them to meet and greet before showing them a new item, which is of registered interest in their 360-degree customer profile.
Digital Retail Convergence
Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) can bring this converging digital experience into the store so the associate and customer get the best of both worlds – it’s important to remember that the success of the new generation in-store experience should fall firmly onto the shoulders of the store associate. Without the dedication of these individuals, working face to face with customers on the shop floor, none of these remarkable technological breakthroughs will have the much-needed impact on the customer’s in-store experience.
Retailers should not underestimate the role of the store associate as they go through any transformational process. They are the key element that gives customers access to everything that online should offer while in the store. The store associate is the face of the business and is the font of all knowledge as everything that’s worth knowing is in the palm of their hand in one easy to use application, which is linking together the best of both worlds.
Lookbook, Omni-channel baskets, Inventory and mobile payments will become more commonplace in the retail sector, due to the influx of Clienteling software – aimed at enhancing the customer journey to provide the ultimate Omni-channel shopping experience.
Keytree In-store Technology can bring together retail convergence into the new generation of digital stores – it’s important to remember that the success of the next generation store requires this forward-thinking technology to grow and enhance the new experience. However, there’s no point in merely handing over new technology to the store associate and expecting instant success – training, product updates with research and development are essential. The technology also needs to be easy to use, so it doesn’t become a hindrance, and the data must be accurate – so the solution can be trusted.
The Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) team has built and designed retail Clienteling solutions via thorough market research activities that continually feed into product development. Clienteling is the term applied to the store associate’s daily routine to establish relationships with customers based on preference, behaviour and purchase data.
KIT provides this vital 360-degree customer information which forms a core feature of the Clienteling app, one of various applications that Keytree provides for KIT customers.
The KIT team’s aim was to re-imagine the Clienteling experience for store associates, advisors, managers and customers alike ensuring the interactions are as fruitful as possible. Over the last two years, we have conducted workshops continually optimising our designs, inviting both clients and technology partners to engage in this collaborative process. KIT provides a Digital Black Book that helps advisors manage their daily tasks, along with product catalogue and stock visibility with an omni-channel basket and easy to use mobile payment capabilities.
In the world of retail, Clienteling software solutions are staking a claim as drivers of the primary strategy for ensuring store associates and their customers get the most from the omni-channel experience and ultimately help increase sales across the retail spectrum. Although online commerce has become the primary channel for many consumers, Keytree’s in-store Clienteling is revolutionising a continually evolving technology within the fast-moving digital landscape.
Customers expect a consistent digital experience, reflecting what they have in the comfort of their own home or on mobile but what KIT applications add is an enhanced personal touch, which they get from store associates but at a speed and efficiency that only recent accomplishments in the tech space can provide. The modern store associate needs to interact with the consumer beyond the boundaries of the physical store, and KIT retail solutions are becoming providers of this platform. Being able to communicate with and sell to customers without them visiting the store has immense sales benefits across all retail sectors.
Creating the ultimate shopping experience
It’s also important to breathe new life into the in-store experience via the mobile channel and not rely solely on an associate and traditional Point of Sale (POS). The NewStore Mobile Retail Report reviewed mobile websites, native apps and the in-store experience of 140 lifestyle, luxury and apparel brands. The findings show that only one in four store associates provided real-time inventory information while on the shop floor (via a device) and just 20 percent of those surveyed offer native shopping apps.
Software solutions such as KIT remedy these pain points, offering a selection of modules including a Catalogue, Runner App and customer Walkway App using the latest iOS AR technologies. We can ensure stock information is readily available, and items are instantly retrievable from the back of the store. Our Clienteling solutions will continue to develop and innovate to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the customer.
Right now, ‘bricks and mortar’ still offer something that you cannot get online – the personal interaction between the customer and the brand. Using a Clienteling solution to amplify the experience is vital for business success and customer retention and will pull every channel together to create the ultimate omni-channel and customer experience.
E-commerce is a quick and easy way to purchase goods, but nine out of ten retail transactions take place in store and two-thirds of luxury consumers say they want to touch and feel a product before purchase – according to research from Deloitte and Google respectively.
Not everyone can work in a public-facing role, and fewer still have the gift of being able to meet customer needs – in a graceful and uncomplicated manner. An excellent store associate knows how to care for their clients and has a unique understanding of each client, gauging their interest through body language or by reacting to a comment.
Technology surrounds us. It can be used to drive cars, create virtual reality gaming, and it even allows you to turn on your heating while struggling home through the rush hour. In the utility market, smart meters use IoT technology to monitor and record consumption on an hourly basis, and GDS is entirely recreating governmental systems to meet user needs but what impact is technology having on the retail sector?
Before we look at what’s on offer we need to remember that not so long ago the industry was facing nothing but doom and gloom. In the ‘90s, the dot-com bubble brought us many new offerings including e-commerce. At the time, many thought the future of the high street was under threat predicting that ‘bricks and mortar’ was a thing of the past. The bubble burst and the stores are still firmly rooted in their foundations, but 20 years later, these same stores are on the verge of a technological revolution.
But the use of technology in the retail sector doesn’t need to create new ways of getting customers into the building as 94 per cent of retail transactions still take place in the store, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research – The New Digital Divide. The onus is on the customer journey and providing the highest level of service, combining all channels to create the ultimate omni-channel.
Giving store associate’s the tools to improve the customer experience
The role of the store associate should be more than pointing you towards the changing rooms or fetching a different colour sweater. It’s time for the retail sector to realise that there’s more a store associate can offer customers, and there’s an easier way for them to do their job – by deploying Keytree In-store Technology.
As the store associate is usually the first point of reference for any client and is also the face of the business, retailers should be providing these valuable employees with the tools that will help improve the customer experience by nurturing valuable customer relationships through digital. Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) provides the perfect tool for managing tasks in one centralised solution, and the KIT dashboard gives users the ability to create, edit and manage tasks, calendars, team meetings and client appointments – working directly from the app.
Online or in-store – KIT also provides a complete omni-channel view of customer activity giving store associates instant access to customer needs, preferences and purchasing history. By having all customer information in one place, store associates can view wish lists, in-process shopping carts, social media profiles and communication history for each and every registered customer.
This approach ensures the customer gets a more personalised service each and every time they come into the store and store associates can access the information needed and never to miss a sale. It’s time to combine online and in-store offerings and give store associates the power of today. So whether it’s identifying who’s entering the store or creating bespoke styles online to match a customer’s preference, the future of shopping lies in the palm of the store associates hand.