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Clienteling and the In-Store Retail Renaissance
Eliminate fragmented customer data for a superior in-store experience.
Posted Aug 22, 2014
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With my brother's wedding coming up, I and other members of the wedding party wanted to take advantage of a buy one, get one free offer on suits from a well-known men's clothing retailer. What should have been a seamless transaction turned out to be a time-consuming and frustrating chore.

Over the years, I'd bought many items of clothing from this national chain of stores, online and over the phone. You'd expect they'd have a record of my past purchases and my measurements, which haven't changed in five years (thank goodness). They did not. Rather than order online or over the phone, I had to carve out several hours from my busy schedule and drive 25 miles to the nearest store that had the suits we wanted in stock.

At the store, I had to be refitted all over again while a simple record of my chest, waist, neck, inseam, and other measurements would have saved me hours. To be fair, the retailer did have some records on me. When I provided my phone number, they had it associated with an address from years earlier, even though I had provided my current address in a previous interaction.

I'll continue patronizing this chain, but not everyone would. Customers today expect retailers to deliver personalized services across all channels based on a detailed knowledge of purchase history and other specifics. If a retailer can't meet those expectations, shoppers will take their business elsewhere.

The challenge is especially pronounced for brick-and-mortar retailers. The problem is that most chains run multiple, disparate systems—one for physical point of sales (POS), one for e-commerce, one for order management, and one for customer relationship management. As a result, like my men's clothing retailer example, they don't have a single unified record of customer interactions across all touch points.

Fragmented customer data is costing retailers a huge opportunity at the store level. The typical store associate has little to no insight on a given customer at his or her disposal, compromising the ability to deliver the personalized service that shoppers expect. But the emergence of "clienteling" is beginning to change all that.

Enriching the In-Store Experience

Clienteling enriches traditional in-store service by equipping tablet-toting associates and devices with CRM insights into individual customers to differentiate the in-store experience. In effect, clienteling blends the digital and physical worlds to offer customers shopping in a brick-and-mortar store the personalized experiences they have come to expect when they shop online.

Clienteling is a key element for an in-store retail renaissance beginning to take shape among leading retailers. By modernizing the brick-and-mortar experience with CRM and mobile technology, retailers can combat declining store sales and showrooming shoppers who use mobile devices to browse competing products and prices. Global consulting firm PwC believes clienteling will be a 

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