11.17.2016 By: Jan Kotowski

How to start doing clienteling like the pros

Why do clienteling?

Before you even start down the how path, you’ll need to firstly understand and define why clienteling is important to your business. Assess your customer’s path-to-purchase in its current state, and where you want it to be in its future state. Then, outline where the gaps exist from a cultural, behavioral, and technical point of view (for today’s discussion, I’ll focus on behavioral):

Firstly, determine what the current behaviors are of your store associates.

Are they already doing clienteling with pen and paper? If so, where does this customer information get stored? Are you losing this information once the store associate leaves?
Meet Angela - Associate bio

Secondly, determine what the key behaviors are in your customers.

Do customers ask for more information when shopping in-store? Do they browse in-store, then shop online? If so, why? Do they shop in the same store regularly, or go to various stores to access different inventory? How often do they shop? Do you capture any customer data at all?
Meet Alice - Customer bio

Thirdly, define what your business will look like in 1-5-10 years.

What state of the Business Maturity Cycle are you in? Would store associate enablement and clienteling help differentiate? What are the gaps you want to fill in the next 3-, 6-, and 12-months?

Business Maturity Model

So, how do you start doing clienteling?

Once you’ve identified the gaps in the customer journey and their typical challenges, it’s time to match it to the future state of store associate behavior, which will dictate the type of technology you will need to invest in. Below is a list of our top identified store associate behaviors, or drivers, as well a set of KPIs by which to measure. You’ll notice I don’t dive into tooling too much since it’s important to fully understand the behaviors and how to measure.

Behavior #1: To increase customer and employee engagement.

Store associates must be actively engaging with customers in store and building trust with the goal of acquiring more information each time they visit. Are store associates getting customers to opt-in or fill out more detailed profile information? Beyond the store, are associates actively nurturing relationship by sending personalized offers unique to their needs?

Store associate toolkit:

  • Blackbook manager
  • Customer profile
  • Customer preferences

Customer profile in the app

Tips: How to measure customer and employee engagement

  • What is the rate of customer opt-ins related to clienteling communication and does this demonstrate a successful engagement with a store associate?
  • Does the customer demonstrate a level of trust or camaraderie? I.e. do they share personal information or key life milestones (weddings, interviews, baby showers)?
  • What are the highest performing stores? Who are the highest performing associates?
  • How do you reward positive behavior?

Behavior #2: To drive a greater rate of frequency and recency customer traffic.

Once a customer completes a purchase and leaves the store, traditional store associates lose all visibility around when they’ll be in next, were they happy, or are they waiting for alternative products to come in.

Store associates should be able to perform regular outreach in their downtime to encourage shoppers to revisit by alerting them with items or offers that matter to them. For instance, sending a personalized note about the upcoming friends and family promotion on cocktail dresses. By learning about their customers’ specific wants and needs, store associates become more like personal shoppers.

Store associate toolkit:

  • Look building
  • Setting follow-up reminders
  • Email and SMS
  • Access to store communications (i.e. promos, look book)
  • Events and event management

Email composition in the Tulip app

Tips: How to measure the rate of frequency and recency traffic in stores

  • How often are store associates following up with customers? Are customers replying to these messages or clicking on relevant links? And does this engagement correlate to how often a customer visits a store?
  • What are the key drivers in getting a customer into a store? Ex. new stock, promotions, or new arrivals?

Behavior #3: To increase conversions.

When store associates lose all visibility into customer behavior, how can they be expected to increase conversions with little to no information about their target shopper? Including things like what their interests are, how often they shop, and when? On top of that, a store associate’s view of product inventory is often limited to what’s in their physical store.

Store associate toolkit:

  • 360-degree view of customer profiles in real-time
  • Past purchase history
  • Store associate notes
  • Wish list
  • Assembled looks
  • Communication history

Client and associate chat

Tips: How to measure in-store conversions

  • What is the rate of conversion from the moment a store associate engages with a customer to moment a transaction is completed?
  • Does the time to purchase lessen over time?
  • How many engagements does it take before a customer purchase?

Behavior #4: To increase transaction size

Being able to successfully up-sell a customer is more about building a trusted relationship than anything else. Some of retail’s best sellers are able to remember why the customer last came to the store, what their next, big life event was going to be, and what their favorite cut is. However, this is not sustainable.

To make it so, you’ll need to find out what the best store associates are doing and standardize this process across other top sellers, new associates, and struggling associates. Ask the top sellers how they identify ideal customers; what their process is in connecting with customers; how do they get customers into stores and; at what point are they able to up-sell. For instance, are store associates leveraging information, like manufacturer’s note to educate customers on differences between their $400 jacket that utilizes a higher grade and quality of fabric, versus the competitor’s identical $200 jacket, which utilizes a different fabric but has the same look.

Store associate toolkit:

  • Related products
  • Manufacturer’s information
  • Social mentions

Browsing through products in the app

Tips: How to measure transaction size increases:

  • To determine whether something like clienteling can contribute directly to increased transaction sizes, perform A/B testing between stores with and without it. Do you notice a lift in conversions? A lift in transaction size? An increase in returning customers?
  • How many times does a store associate engage with a customer before they purchase? How long does it take for a customer to increase their average transaction size in-store or online?
  • How long does a store associate typically maintain a rapport with a customer? Does the average transaction size increase over time?

Clienteling: Something old, something new.

Don’t forget, clienteling was a function of good retail before it wasn’t. In the early days of The Department Store, it was commonplace to offer customers a high degree of customer service from the moment they walked in the store, to the moment they left. It didn’t have to be the highest end retailer either. It was a cultural norm. An associate would greet her shopper by the name, ask her how she’s made out with her past purchase, and inquire whether she’s here to pick up some more items for the family.

The goal of technology is to make access to information ubiquitous–not to marginalize workers from their customers. Let’s use mobile technology to not only bring back, but amplify the power of brick-and-mortar retail.


Discover more on how to get started with Tulip Clienteling.

Article Written By