Published on in RetailDigital Transformation

Guest blog by Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider

Many years ago ‘clientelling’ was a term bandied around frequently, the idea being that store employees would use a ‘system’ to manage customer engagement in-store. The intention was that this type of service would keep tempting customers back into stores and so engender loyalty.

The problem was that the system didn’t really exist. Yes, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions were prevalent but the means with which to extend these solutions into the hands of store employees and customers was not available.

Today, the digital revolution has made such tools almost ubiquitous and retailers are forging ahead with utilising connected devices – chiefly tablets – to deliver clientelling solutions, which translates into giving a rich personalised service to the customer by utilising the shopping history and behavioural data held by the retailer on these individual shoppers.

The likes of Oasis, House of Fraser, Dixons Carphone, Arcadia, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are among a growing number of retailers implementing digital in-store solutions to drive engagement and, they hope, loyalty.

The beauty of these solutions is that they are very visible to many people – both the (hundreds of thousands) of retail employees and the customers – and as such the roll-out of tablets is casting a positive light on the sector.

It has undoubtedly contributed to the fact the ‘Digital Inside Out’ survey shows retail is the leading industry that is driving a digital-first Britain. As many as 32% of people surveyed believe the sector is the most improved digitally over the last two years, compared with second-placed financial services (26%), and the laggard telecoms and media (4%).

The reality is that it’s consumers who are very much leading the digital trend for retailers. Consider that online shopping and click & collect are the second and third most used and valued digital services – behind only internet banking.

But regardless of who is driving things, there is no doubt retailers are working hard to satisfy shoppers’ growing appetites for using in-store technology, which ultimately enables a seamless shopping experience across channels.

Good on them for grasping the nettle because this progressive thinking is resulting in retailers rolling out clientelling-type solutions via tablets in-store, which is leading to new levels of engagement that is prompting loyalty.

Monsoon/Accessorize launched tablets into its stores in October 2014 that enhance the customer experience by linking into the company’s reward card but the real loyalty-boosting aspect is tying it in with its sizing solution (Virtusize) that calculates the customers perfect measurements and sizes. By using this insight on the tablet the store assistant can recommend relevant, perfect-fitting, outfits to the customer in-store.

This is enhanced by it being possible for the device to have visibility of stock levels in-store as well as other nearby outlets and across all other parts of the supply chain. The ability to know the exact whereabouts of stock and potentially the ideal sizing of customers will no doubt be increasingly utilised by retailers when shoppers are trying garments on in the changing rooms.

The changing room is undoubtedly one of the areas that will be significantly affected by the digital transformation. Arcadia has been distributing iPads to employees in its US stores – where personal shopper services are a part of the culture – for delivering a high level of engagement and loyalty.

Using the devices enables the personal shoppers to select (recommended) goods for immediate delivery from the shop floor to the changing room suite for the customer to try on without delay of inconvenience – hence the higher chance of satisfaction for all parties.

This physical personal service when combined with technology, which is used to enhance the personal shopper’s capabilities, is where digital devices in-store (fuelled by rich data sources) can be at their most powerful and are likely to engender valuable loyalty from the customer. Clientelling really has come of age.


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