It has been an unprecedented year for the retail industry, but the National Retail Federation (NRF) will continue with its annual Big Show. This time around, it is a virtual event, and once again, the KIT team will be in attendance. NRF2021: Retail’s Big Show – Chapter One offers a virtual Expo for retailers to connect with the industry. The event starts on 12 January 2021, and to discover more about how KIT Clienteling tools can help get your business back on track in these challenging times, register here to schedule a meeting with one of the team.
Echoing what has been said by many, 2020 saw turbulence across all retail sectors, and as a direct consequence, we witnessed how customer behaviour became ever more unpredictable. Designated ‘non-essential’ retail closed their doors but those with online stores had the opportunity to continue driving sales and to move even closer to their customers by giving them the best experience possible.
Avoiding the ‘Old School’ approach
Bombarding known and opted-in customers with promotional offers is one way of maintaining visibility. For some, this approach had already become viewed as ‘Old School’ and certainly not how brands want to see themselves represented. Indeed, 2020 had been decreed as the year that retailers became more experiential. It was also the year that the ‘theatre of retail’ would come to the fore and unleash its creativity. By April, via a nervy February and March, survival became the keyword throughout the industry. Even so, some were already starting to get ahead of the game.
Retailers that had latched on to the need for a more personalised experience had already introduced Clienteling into stores. Store Associates had transferred their ‘little black book’ onto digital devices (tablets and mobile phones), possessing tools that that enabled them to deepen the relationship between the customer and the brand. Invitations to special events? Previews of new product ranges? Curating sets of products that meet the preferences and interests of the customer? All available with a touch, swipe, or a pinch on the screen.
Savvy retailers knew that by having Clienteling tools readily available and implemented, once stores were closed, they could maintain and further their relationship with customers. Communicating through emails, social media messaging and video calling, they could retain front of mind – in a non-bombardment way. Sharing, commenting, and recommending via all types of social media kept the brands and customers close. Guiding and helping the customers to navigate the online store (to find that elusive product) and helping get that perfectly timed delivery or kerbside pick-up. Remote associates, operating as if standing alongside the customer in the store, can maintain intimacy and engagement through the tools. As customers continue to receive the same high level of service from a remote associate, this will only continue to develop confidence across categories and price points.
The next level of Clienteling
Whether a brand, operating its own stores and being fully vertically integrated with your manufacture, or a retailer of multiple brands, putting its own unique and consistent spin on the experience that the customer receives is differentiating. This approach can range from offering access to live (and virtual for the time being) catwalk shows and product launches. Or it could be providing the latest news, updates, or even building and organising communities. Getting close to the customer (whether physically in the store or remotely using communication apps) means that your brand will continue to be integral to their life.
Where can this lead? Well, Boston Consulting Group is already talking about ‘Clienteling 2.0’ and the use of Machine Learning to curate suggestions. But this technology is already available. Further steps using AR and VR are around the corner, and with the arrival of 5G, yet more possibilities are sure to emerge.
The capabilities that can be unleashed through technology are becoming close to limitless. But the ability to remain close to your customers, wherever they are, is there. Brands will differentiate themselves by the type of experience that they give to their customers. Customers will differentiate the brands by the value they put on the experience personally.
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.
KIT enables store associates to engage with customers remotely, nurturing existing and new customer relationships and maximising sales in a seamless process. The ability, provided by cutting edge KIT technology, to surface all relevant customer and product information and enable multiple channels of communication, allows the store associate to advise, recommend and sell from anywhere at any time.
- Up to 10% increase in sales generated by store associates
- Up-sell & Cross-sell from home and increase average order size by up to 15%
- Relationships managed directly between store associates and customers – all centrally controlled by the Retailer
- Increase customer satisfaction by up to 25% through personalised customer & store associate interactions.
- Supercharge store associates by providing them with all the information they need to sell effectively from home.
Store Associate Benefits
- Maintaining good customer contact whilst working from home via the Comms module allowing contact via e-mail, phone, SMS, WhatsApp or WeChat.
- The ability to view their customers online presence via their 360° profile, including their online basket, recommendations and wish lists to enable further cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
- To continue to build looks and outfits for their customers using the Look book module, which can be sent to their customers for feedback.
- The ability to gain more detailed customer feedback on the service from home, via KIT’s integration to Qualtrics.
- KIT allows the store associate to forward plan their tasks and one to one appointments, once plans for store re-opening are announced.
- Commission tracking so any transactions pushed to the website for checkout still give the credit to the store associate.
Implementation & Effort
We can deliver working systems in as little as 2 weeks and Keytree can manage the whole project remotely.
The final delivered solution is fully managed by Keytree, with remote maintenance & support included in the licence fee.
KIT is available for purchase via SAP’s App Center. Click here for more information.
Are you being served?
To people of a certain age, the title above will conjure up images of a sitcom located in a 1970’s department store with the humour based upon stereotypes of the time, that is massively inappropriate today. The title of the show, however, came from a fundamental question from the sales staff to a customer that appeared to be waiting for some assistance. Although not a term used at the time, customer-centricity was at the heart of retail, with knowledge of each regular customer’s preferences at the fingertips of the staff. Then it was lost. Self-service became everything, and sales associates became known as ‘store staff’ – a uniformed resource (primarily) to keep shelves and hangers filled, rather than the guide as the customer follows the path to their purchase. TV and magazines became the source of knowledge for customers, and everything became transactional, with price as the differentiator.
Then along came the internet, disrupting the way that we do everything (well, almost everything) and providing a wealth of information and opinion on everything and anything. As well as opening a whole new world of competition for the established stores, the internet also provided a way for customers to become more informed about the products that they were thinking of buying. Research before buying is now established as the norm, and we have reached the point where you have customers knowing more than the sales associate. That was until now – retailers of all types are turning to technology to equip store associates with information more comprehensive, and immediate, than ever before.
You’ve got the whole world in your hands
Technology of all sorts – electronics, fabrics, food and services – means that products evolve and are superseded much more rapidly than ever before. Consequently, knowing the killer selling points of these products is so difficult for the store staff. Customers focused on their desired purchase, do more and more research on the items they want to buy. They are well armed with facts and comparatives, so we need to help the store teams. This is where assisted selling comes in – using mobile technology to have comprehensive data at your fingertips. Technical information, comparison reports, competitive price details and associated products can all be fed to the store associate so that they are on at least an equal footing with a well-informed customer.
Conversations become more meaningful, credibility is enhanced, and the relationship grows. The customer feels that they want to buy because they can discuss their requirements at a detailed level. Even better, because of the intelligence provided by the technology, the store associate can up-sell by giving reasons why the more expensive model has better features, or cross-sell accessories and complementary products. But why stop there? Companies are taking this even further by enabling personalisation of products. Want that specific design added? Sure. Want your name written on the product? Easy!
And there’s even more…
Huge opportunities exist at this point for further products and services. These tools help ensure that you get a suitably qualified installation engineer, at a time of your convenience, to have the product ready and working: not just delivered to your door in a box. We have long had the follow-up phone call ‘to arrange installation’, but now we expect it to be done at the same time we conclude the sale. It is also unacceptable to have to walk the customer to another part of the store to do this – it needs to be done there and then, where you are standing.
In fact, on larger mobile devices we can further develop assisted selling by using Augmented Reality to show the product (such as furnishings and other household goods) integrated into a photograph of the room it would be in. This becomes powerful, as it takes the customer on the emotional journey of seeing the product in their home.
Where does it work?
This is great news! Anywhere that you have a one to one interaction with the customer as part of the sale is appropriate to have some form of mobile-enabled assisted selling. When you partner this with Clienteling on the same mobile device, you empower the sales associate to have a personal relationship (like having their old, traditional, black book) as well as having in-depth product information to give that expert guidance.
Traditionally viewed as being mainly the territory of the luxury, big ticket, fashion retailers, we are having discussions with clients across many sectors: white goods retail, automotive, home furnishings, financial services and many, many more.
Are you being served? There is no doubt that by offering assisted selling, using mobile technology, you most definitely will be.
“Everybody is different” or “Not everyone wants the same thing” – a couple of the regular quotes that we hear connected to customer-centricity, customer loyalty and customer 360 programmes. These are mostly true and never more visible than when the line-up for the Reading & Leeds music festival, which takes place in August, was released in February and I listened in to conversations between my daughter and her friends: “Best line-up ever”, “Utter garbage”, “Not bad” plus numerous variations on those themes. But irrespective of their thoughts, they will all attend because they always do; much in the same way that customers will turn up at your stores because they always have.
Lots of time and effort is taken in gaining permission from our customers so that we can obtain data from them. Then, once we know all about them, we treat them all the same way! Sure, we may tailor some product offers and discounts based upon what they buy but is that enough? Spending time in some stores in recent weeks, I have had conversations with customers that also had similar themes: “Vouchers are ok, but I wonder what else they could do?”, “I spend so much here, and they know it, but I’m not made to feel special”. Interesting feedback which got me thinking – are customers beginning to ask: “What’s really in it for me?”.
We know more than ever before
The phenomenal growth of online shopping, individual user accounts, one to one interactions through Clienteling apps and loyalty schemes, means that there is more data being collected day by day, and our likes and dislikes, family unit (status, number of children) are known to many. Cloud companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft go to great lengths to illustrate how much data is being created, including the rate of growth, building up detailed pictures of our customers. Yet we lack originality in what is offered in return for customers giving access to all that rich data. Think about it – most of the creativity in ‘giving back’ to the customer is around giving discounts on goods or services that they either buy, or are similar to what they buy, but these are ultimately just discounts.
It’s the experience economy, isn’t it?
You cannot read anything these days without being told that we are living in the time of the ‘experience economy’ and that retailing today is all about delivering an experience, not just transactions. What makes it all the more interesting is that ‘rewards’ for giving up volumes of data tend to be transactional – discounts on items, full basket discounts for a period or buy this product and get this other one free or reduced. In summary, you haven’t done much with the data that you’ve been given. If we have converted our store associates’ ‘little black books’ into Clienteling apps, or if we have collected data about things our customers enjoy doing, then we have a good insight into what our customers like to do outside of shopping (which, I’m sorry to drop in, is probably seen more as a need than a pleasure).
Is this an opportunity to then blend transactional and experiential rewards for our customers? Absolutely, yes it is and how much more loyal could those customers be? Imagining this through, the data can be used to offer experiences that are tiered – similar to airline schemes that aim to improve your flight experience the more you spend with them. But it doesn’t need to be as grand as these. Events in local stores for local customers can make customers feel valued and build community, and if you want to recognise your best customers then exclusive national events will hit the mark. I’m purposely playing devil’s advocate here, but the thinking is real, as were the conversations with customers that I alluded to earlier.
What’s the point, then?
The point is we absorb swathes of data from customers throughout all the interactions that we have with them, and then in most cases have not checked what they would like in return for this. Discounts are a good thing for customers but are not (by any stretch) the only option. Some may only want deep discounts in return for giving up their data, but experiences drive emotions, and good emotions drive loyalty and may even develop advocates.
Clienteling, with a tool such as KIT, makes asking these questions and obtaining feedback very straightforward but can your business be creative with what you offer? And can you manage this across your, inevitably broad, customer base? Can you afford not to? Thinking back to the music festival example, they establish several stages so that music genres and eras are represented and keep a huge audience satisfied, feeling that they have all been catered for. What is your plan to both understand what your customers want, and then to give it to them? What’s really in it for them?
A new year starts, and in the retail world all eyes turn to New York and the annual event that is The Big Show from the National Retail Federation – known to all in the sector as simply ‘NRF’. Amidst the cross-continent reunions, the chance to see former colleagues and reminisce about earlier times, leaders of retailers huge and small come together to learn of the latest topics, developments and hype. Not only about retail tech (although a huge amount of the show is), the conference provides a forum to share learnings from throughout the industry: from the global giants through to the kitchen table start-ups that are disrupting the way we ‘do retail’ every day.
Each attendee has their own reason for being there. The technology companies that are selling solutions to problems that some attendees are not even aware of, and the retailers with problems that keep them awake at night, who are searching for the much vaunted ‘silver bullet’. Based on this, they all flock into Javits Centre from Sunday 12 to Tuesday 14 January, ready to walk and talk themselves into exhaustion.
The KIT team habitually attends the New York event and once again we are looking forward to talking about what we are doing with our customers and partners, the changes we are witnessing across the world within retail while offering our opinions based on our experience of working with clients on cloud strategies with all of the hyperscalers.
We will be showcasing KIT, our state-of-the-art Clienteling and Assisted Selling toolkit, which brings together the strengths of Apple and SAP into one easy to adopt in-store application. Many customers are using KIT across different retail segments: from replacing the ‘little black book’ of customer information, much loved of luxury retail assistants, to providing technical product details that help influence decisions of one versus another. Initial steps are also being taken for more innovative uses – indeed anything where you may need a one-to-one engagement between customer and associate.
Bridge for Retail
KIT is a component of the Bridge for Retail solution – a cloud-based solution that contains a blend of SAP technology and Keytree developed applications that enable a retailer to operate. From Core Financials, Buying Merchandising and Supply Chain, through to KIT, Integrated Analytics and Human Resources; it truly is a business process toolkit. That scope is far too much for a business to afford and absorb in one project; which is why we have created packages for:
- Financials & Analytics
- Merchandising & Analytics
- Customer Experience
These packages have been created based upon our huge experience of delivering these core capabilities to retailers; enabling us to deliver a defined scope (business capability), in a predictable timescale (speed), with analytics capable of driving the weekly Trading Meeting that forms the heartbeat of all retail businesses (KPIs to drive actions). Packages are delivered with business adoption as a first principle: technology is no use unless it is adopted as part of daily Business as Usual.
What problems do these solutions solve?
Good question. There must be good reasons to implement these tools, and there are. Looking at some specific examples, they are very relevant for businesses that have:
- Developed beyond start-up, or have grown through acquisition and need standard financial controls and analytics to report to their stakeholders (Financials & Analytics)
- Adopted the financial controls, but now need to apply rigour to ranges and inventory availability (Merchandising & Analytics)
- Assessed a need for a single view of the customer, marketing preferences and marketing campaigns (Customer Experience)
Understood a need to replace the ‘black book’ of the sales associate, or a need to provide technical expertise on products, as well as making recommendations for cross and up-selling (KIT – Clienteling and Assisted Selling)
There’s no hard sell…
Although we are at NRF to show what we can do, we are equally enthusiastic to learn from retailers what we need to do to be even more helpful to them. We can begin by discussing strategy and continuous business improvement and evolve to our technology wizards talking about the clever things that we have done around image recognition and visual searching (and searching by sounds too), all driven by data science.
I think that sums up NRF. it’s a place for reunions – where we all meet to compare what has happened since last year. It’s a place for showing – what we have developed and what results our customers have achieved. It’s a place for learning – who is doing what and how successfully. But most of all… it is a place for Retail.
Have a great NRF 2020, and we look forward to meeting you at the KIT booth #4125 – located next to SAP.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on this website’s Contact page.
The KIT team will be making their annual pilgrimage to New York City for NRF 2020: Retail’s Big Show, meeting with new and existing clients at Booth #4125. For the fourth year in succession, the team will be showcasing the KIT product portfolio and sharing exciting new product developments at the Annual Convention & EXPO – NRF’s flagship event, and the world’s largest Retail Conference and Expo, which runs from 11 – 14 January 2020, hosted at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
KIT has been successfully deployed in prestigious luxury fashion houses and stores such as Holt Renfrew, a chain of high-end Canadian department stores specialising in luxury brands and a global retail fashion retailer. As a result, KIT is now being used daily by 1000’s of store associates worldwide from Europe to Asia to North America. In attendance at this year’s event will be Keytree Director Andrew Miller and Adrian Slater, Head of Retail at Keytree.
KIT will be demonstrating what it takes for companies to create a personalised end-to-end Omni-channel experience for customers. Visitors to the KIT stand will be treated to an interactive experience that reimagines the store experience for store associates, management and customers alike ensuring the interactions are as remarkable as possible. Demo’s will show how KIT puts the store associate at the heart of the customer’s journey with a blending of digital and physical interactions.
National Retail Federation
NRF 2020 is the worlds largest retail conference, accommodating over 38,000 visitors, 16,000 retailers and more than 800 exhibitors. The three-day event aims to bring together ideas and relationships, and help attendees forge new partnerships. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world’s largest retail trade association. Its members include department stores, speciality, discount, catalogue, internet and independent retailers, chain restaurants and grocery stores.
One way or another, once it had been invented, the telephone would have caught on. However, many of the things that we consider indispensable, now that we know how useful they are, were not immediately recognised for their potential value when they first appeared, and the telephone is no exception. It was the news of the vital role that the telephone played, in 1878, in helping to round up doctors and bring them to the scene of a massive train accident in Tariffville, Connecticut, which proved the concept of this new technology to a pre-telephone society, that had managed perfectly well thus far with the telegram being the most advanced communication tool available.
But despite having proved its worth, and being an incredibly powerful tool that has subsequently changed the world, from its earliest days the telephone has had its weaknesses. Crossed lines, eavesdroppers, abusive callers, and most recently robocalls – a problem so bad that, as The Washington Post reports on a survey by Hiya, many people are “simply choosing not to answer the phone altogether”.
In the light of this understanding of the telephone, which, despite its weaknesses, very few adults in the world would dream of being without in one form or another, this blog post is going to look at the trouble you could run into if you put a Clienteling app in the hands of a store associate. Just to be clear, we highly recommend putting a Clienteling app in the hands of all of your store associates, but we want to educate you about the potential dangers, so you are prepared to deal with them and are better able to make the most of this exciting new technology.
Clienteling and the store associate – the need to embrace change
First and foremost, changing the culture of any business takes a lot of communication and more time than most of us would like it to. That’s why relying too heavily on static company-wide communications to introduce any change to a workplace, especially new ways of working, is likely to result in poor absorption of the information and poor adoption of the new methodology. When new tools and approaches are introduced to a workplace, to embed those things in its company culture, a business needs to provide team briefings, training, feedback loops and support. Otherwise, even simple comprehension of what the new change is and what it is for will likely be too low for it to take hold and be effective.
But even more important is the fact that people vary in how well they adapt to change. Some people lap up change and some are very resistant to it so for this reason, any change in company practice needs to find someone who will champion the change to those who greet it with wariness or even hostility. Someone in the company who not only shows enthusiasm for the brave new world but who is understood to be available for support in making sense of the what, where, when, why and how of it.
In other words, simply presenting store associates with a new Clienteling app, without providing sufficient support and encouragement along with it, will probably result in worse sales performances, not better ones. For example, if a store associate is not convinced that the new app will make it easier to do or perform well in their job, they will likely either resent using it or refuse to – both of which will impact negatively on the customer experience that the app is intended to improve.
Introducing and embedding KIT into your workforce
Picture a customer greeted by a store associate who is not enthusiastic about the new Clienteling app, so has not learned of the many useful functions it has. The store associate may not even know that the app enables them to search the stock of a product in another store and complete a sale there and then. It could take the store associate so long to figure out how to accomplish this task with that the wholly unimpressed customer runs out of patience and leaves without making the purchase they would have made if the app designed to enhance customer service had been slick and effective.
Conversely, imagine a store associate who loves the new Clienteling app so much that, in their excitement over what it can do, they fail to listen to guidance on how to use the direct communication features of the app, resulting in doing more harm than good.
One of the most useful applications of a Clienteling app is to personalise the shopping experience for customers, which is of huge value in bricks and mortar retail, where competing with the convenience of online shopping means offering the added value that you can’t find online. Furthermore, one of the best ways of personalising the shopping experience for a customer is to communicate directly with them, via a Clienteling app, with news of a new product or discount that has just been announced. However, if all the messages a store associate ever sends a customer are about products and offers, or if a store associate is not dynamically responsive to the communications they receive from a customer, then those store associates are not providing a valuable, personalised shopping experience, they are subjecting that customer to spam. And instead of those store associates building stronger brand loyalty using the Clienteling app, they will be weakening it.
Potential problems for a brand can also occur even if ten store associates are doing nothing particularly bad in the way they use the direct communication function of a Clienteling app if there has been an insufficient setting of a standard to follow. The result will be sub-optimal brand consistency.
Of course, any useful tool can be mishandled. In the wrong or the uneducated hands, a simple hammer could be used destructively. In the right hands, attached to a person who knows how to hit the nail and not their thumb, the hammer can be used to build palaces. Similarly, with the right support, Clienteling apps like KIT can be incredibly helpful as a tool for both Clienteling and assisted selling. While designed to be very easy to use, KIT is multifaceted and dynamic – new information about products, stock and customers can be added all the time, so it helps all store associates who have been given a tablet with KIT installed on it, if they receive excellent support in practising with and making the most of it.
To help set you off on the right foot with KIT, we recommend inviting the most technologically friendly or innovation-oriented of your store associates to join you for a demonstration of the app with our team. That way your store associates can help you to create a buzz to introduce KIT to your retail business. Demonstrations of KIT can be arranged by contacting the helpful KIT team on +44 203 691 2936. You can also email email@example.com with any questions or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.
Luring shoppers away from the comfort and convenience of their online shopping basket has been the challenge of the century for bricks and mortar retailers. And now, with Amazon, who already claim half of all retail sales in the US, introducing a new Augmented Reality function to help shoppers visualise products in their home before they buy them, the challenge is just got tougher.
Doubtless, you know of at least one example of a creative if not radical solution implemented by a high street store to create an extraordinary in-store experience worth leaving the house for. Sometimes these experiences, ranging from treasure hunts to immersive theatre, are only very tenuously connected to the products and shopping opportunities offered by the stores that host them, but some are squarely on brand. In its central London store, The House of Vans, a skateboarding and BMX fashion retailer, has installed a cinema, café, live music venue and art gallery, with its piece de resistance in the basement, in the form of a fully functional skateboard/bike park.
However, on brand or not, not every retailer has the resources to add multiple new functions to their store, and even those that do are likely to have to limit this approach to their flagship branch. The question of what’s really, practically going to dictate the future of the in-store experience, for both retailers and shoppers, is one that was at the heart of the National Retail Federation’s NXT meeting in July 2019. It turns out that extraordinary store experiences were only one of the three answers they presented. The other two were data and digital marketing. Furthermore, they are the ones that are going to tell you what is going to make for an extraordinary store experience.
Being a high street retailer can seem like a huge disadvantage when you are competing with online stores, because online stores can be accessed by anyone from anywhere, including from inside a high street store. However, online retailers would kill for the quality of data you can capture with a shopper standing in front of you, where you can hold a conversation with them and be responsive in real-time to the information you take in.
The evolution of websites no match for direct contact with the customer
Websites may have evolved the ability to carry out sophisticated behaviour analysis using heatmaps and other user data, but they cannot directly observe their shoppers and modify their approach to better suit the dynamic of each individual, or successfully judge if now is the right time to ask for information that will improve how you connect with them as a brand. These kinds of interactions are not everyone’s forte, but for those who can master them, they can provide far richer data about a customer’s shopping needs than you can get from analysing the same person’s mouse movements and clicks on a website. If you want to know if the changes you are making to your customer experience online are working you can ask your visitors. A retail associate’s observation of a shopper in a high street store could give you a far more accurate, real-time feedback on the success or failure of the customer experience.
Digital marketing and data are closely linked because what makes digital marketing so powerful compared with traditional marketing is the scope it provides to analyse its impact and the speed with which that can be done. When trying to measure the impact of an advert on TV or in a magazine, the two best measures used to be: how many people saw it and, if possible, how many people called the telephone number given in the ad.
Whatever the form of your digital marketing – email, blog, video, banner, pop-up, it is relatively easy to A/B test different options that with old marketing media you would simply have had to commit. Now you can change words, colours and images in marketing, making sure that you can identify which version of which marketing asset a person saw when they answered a call to action (clicking, completing a form, printing a coupon) and get real data as to which marketing effort had the most impact.
This is critical because for most customers in the high street their experience begins with an exposure to digital marketing. It is also critical that the experience offered in-store is looked at holistically alongside the digital marketing effort so that there is congruence between all the digital marketing touchpoints leading to the high street store and the physical space of that same brand.
KIT – helping brands capture real usable data
One way of achieving that is with KIT, which runs on an iPad or Android tablet, and can be adapted to fit any retail brand. KIT is a tool that works at the intersection of all three of the answers offered by the NRF’s NXT meeting. Using customer profiles, it captures incredibly useful data to help the brand improve its customer experience. By linking to the brand’s website it integrates with other digital marketing efforts and powers digital marketing by providing store associates with various means to message customers directly. Finally, there are numerous ways KIT can be used as part of the shopping experience. It can help to locate particular products, both in the catalogue and the store. It can be used to compare products or help educate customers about products. And it can be used to close a sale when otherwise a customer would have a much longer process to follow and run the risk of not completing the purchase.
It is also worth noting that while the assisted selling features of KIT can rescue a retailer from putting too much thought into the frills and not enough into the nuts and bolts of selling stuff to all its customers, KIT can also help with a particular category of shopper, identified in a paper written in April 2018, titled: Selling the Extraordinary Experiential Retail Stores – who will feel particularly let down if she or he can’t make their purchase with a minimum of fuss.
That is to say, as important as it is for retail stores to think about the customer experience and how to make it rock, they must also understand that broadly speaking, shoppers come in two forms. The ones who do planned, task focussed shopping and those who are more spontaneous and open to being entertained. As well as helping immerse the spontaneous, entertainment-oriented shoppers in the brand and its products, KIT can be the perfect tool for a store associate who needs to help a task focussed shopper transcend the distraction of the entertainment, to simply execute their task. Thus, instead of leaving frustrated because they were not interested in trying a face mask made from Koala droppings, task focussed customers can be made grateful that your store understood and catered to their individual needs.
To learn more about how KIT can form part of your data-driven, digital marketing integrated, extraordinary customer experience, just contact the KIT team on +44 203 691 2936. They will be very happy to answer any questions and schedule a demonstration. 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.
If you have worked in retail today, for any length of time, you know about the importance of the customer experience. However, with so many different ideas floating around about what the customer experience is and how to provide it, you could be forgiven for not being very clear about either of those things. For some, designing the customer experience means a floor to ceiling refit of the store to create an entirely different space or ambience. For others, it is about offering an experience that is both appealing and not what you would traditionally expect from a retailer.
For example, this summer, Showfields, a retailer in New York, launched ‘an immersive theatre experience that bridges art and retail,’ which customers begin by going down a black-and-white striped slide. From there actors guide shoppers through a surreal combination of art gallery and product demonstrations, which concludes in a space called ‘The Lab’, where guests can buy the products they’ve seen on the tour.
As these kinds of examples are being set by peers, for too many retailers, focusing on the customer experience means missing the point. As Retail Prophet, Doug Stephens puts it in his blog post: ‘Why Retail Is Getting “Experience” Wrong‘ – “Most retailers assume customer experience is primarily an aesthetic concept and more about how stores look and feel. Other retailers assume that customer experience simply means better, friendlier or more personalised service. Thus they invest in recruiting and training, and work harder to capture data about their clientele.”
Understanding the customer experience
The efforts of retailers who think this way will almost inevitably fail because they haven’t understood the task at hand. Doug goes on to explain: “True customer experience design means deconstructing the entire customer journey into its smallest component parts and then reengineering each component to look, feel and most importantly, operate differently than before and distinctly from competitors.”
Why is it that retailers struggle to understand this? It is the same reason why most people couldn’t describe the dynamics that make one story good and another one bad, but they can tell when they hear a good story and when they hear a bad one. They haven’t thought about it for long enough or been taught by someone who truly understands it and therefore is probably no coincidence that when you do think about it, you can see very similar dynamics at work in both a great story and a great customer experience.
A great story engages all five senses of the world where it takes place – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. As the saying goes, people may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. The same is true of retail experience. A story worth listening to is one that transports you to another world. And because the characters who live there inhabit such a different world from yours, when you feel empathy for them they lift you out of the forest where you live and can no longer see the trees, and allow you see again. The products you are looking at in a store that has redesigned its customer experience may be similar to a thousand others you have seen, but when they are presented in a completely different light from every other store you’ve seen them in, you can see and feel them anew.
Some stories deliberately make it harder for their audience to relate to their heroes, and typically those stories develop a cult following from the few who love them. But most stories aim to tell stories about protagonists the audience can relate to fairly easily in a very deep way. You know when a story has succeeded in presenting you with such a protagonist because you enjoy and look forward to the time you spend with them. This is what a personalised store experience is all about – making a customer feel seen, happy to visit, glad they came and eager for the next chapter.
A great story surprises its audience, by knowing what they expect and delivering something different. A twist in the tale or a subversion of expectations at each turning point in a story is far more satisfying than a ‘jack-in-the-box’, which is a surprise with no particular logical or emotional connection to what led up to it. It also works in retail. Expectations are deeply ingrained in shoppers but there are many ways to deliver unexpected and delightful surprises all along the customer journey.
While amazing stories are not formulaic, great writers can bring us back to new episodes of stories and repeatedly deliver, with necessary variations, what we have come to expect from the world in which these stories are set. It is just as vital that a customer, returning to a store that has mastered its customer experience as described above, is offered a similar quality, though not a cookie-cutter copy of the experience they have had and loved before. So far so ideal, and in his blog, Doug Stephens makes a valid point that simply handing a retail associate a tablet and expecting the customer experience to hit new heights of excellence is naive at best.
He also points out that achieving this level of customer experience is not easy, and even when you get there, if you are armed with a tablet that gives you a live view of every product available in that store at that precise moment, you probably have the most valuable thing you need to delight a customer who neither has the time nor the patience to jump on a black and white slide before embarking on a 20-minute tour that ends in the gift shop. There’s every reason to use your imagination and creativity to make every one of your customer’s experiences compel them to return, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of some basic relationship management activities that foster an authentic connection between your retail associates and your customers. Furthermore, with the right app on that tablet, you can make that relationship management easier.
Arrange a free demo of KIT
KIT is the ideal solution for retailers looking to equip their store associates with a tool that makes it easier to personalise a customer’s experience so they look forward to returning again and again. The most helpful thing KIT can do in the first interaction may be to quickly connect a customer with the right product, but building on that success KIT can help store associates to accumulate data that helps them and the brand build a relationship with that customer. The longer and stronger that relationship, the better the chances of increasing the lifetime value of that customer.
KIT includes a range of assisted selling tools to help customers find, evaluate and compare products, then complete the sale – taking the pain out of shopping for even the most retail-unfriendly of customers. After that, records of the customer kept automatically through sales and interactions with the brand on other channels can be added to manually, which means a store associate doesn’t have to memorise the granular details of a multitude of customers who only visit the store once a month or less. Being able to easily access this information helps a store associate make a customer feel far more cared for than they would otherwise be able to.
As part of a conscious revolution in your thinking about what customers expect from their experience on the high street, introducing KIT should not be the only change you make, but it can be a powerful performance enhancer. And the challenge of igniting and leading your customer experience revolution should not be underestimated, but by way of contrast, it takes very little effort to arrange a demonstration of KIT. Simply contact the KIT team on +44 203 691 2936 and they will be happy to assist. You can also email email@example.com with any questions or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.
Long before the advent of the computer, the trick to outperforming your competition in retail sales was to keep a notebook in which you would record information about clients, including but not limited to their purchasing history. Armed with a repository of information bigger than anyone could be expected to simply remember, you could improve your interactions with customers, making them feel well known and understood, and thus provide a more personal and satisfying shopping experience. While the art itself predates the term Clienteling by a considerable margin – this is the art of Clienteling.
Today, with technological innovations, the state of the art has moved forward – paper notebooks have been replaced by apps that make information about customers even easier to record, organise and recall. But new technology like this always raises a question about the need for it. The argument goes that if we have survived without it so far, why do we need it now? Is it essential or would it just be nice to have?
The answer is that your store associates can manage without it, but there’s obviously a difference between managing and prospering. Do you want your store associates to just survive or do you want them to thrive?
More than a mark in a little black book
Furthermore, if you don’t provide your store associates with cutting edge Clienteling tools, and if you’ve hired the right people, they will improvise their own approach using their own devices. The result of that is losing both useful data and brand-building opportunities. Instead of capturing information that could help you target customers more successfully, it will be inaccessible to you. And when a customer receives communication from a store associate on one of their personal channels, that is likely to strengthen their connection to the store associate’s personal brand, more than it strengthens their connection to the brand of your store.
Before the days of internet shopping, when a high streets’ biggest competition was other high streets, and you could expect more people to be walking past and walking into your store, the average store associate was under less pressure to go beyond asking a customer: “Do you need any help?” Indeed, there was a time for some store associates when it was advantageous to minimise the time they spent with any single customer, to push as many customers over the line of a sale as possible.
However, today the high street is in fierce competition with the internet, and store associates have a much more critical role to play – they are the best weapon a retailer has to entice customers out of their homes and to maintain a connection with them when they are not visiting the store. And that’s one of the ways in which a simple notebook is not enough anymore, which is why store associates looking to succeed need something more powerful and more dynamic and they’ll be compelled to build their own solution if they have to. Fortunately, they don’t have to. Thanks to some clever people at Keytree who developed KIT to usher in a new era of Clienteling excellence.
KIT is a product catalogue, notebook, communications centre, personal assistant and style consultant rolled into one, easy to use application. It not only helps a store associate record information and history about customers, enhancing their ability to connect with them – it helps store associates identify and present customers with suggestions for products that might also be of interest plus promotions which they are likely to find appealing.
KIT facilitates communication with customers when they are not actually in the store, which is recorded in the customer’s profile to support excellent customer relationship management. It helps new store associates hit the ground running and takes the Clienteling of experienced retail professionals to the next level.
For a detailed tour of KIT and the ways it can assist your store associates in elevating the experience they offer your customers 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.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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.