Retailers Bring the Digital Experience In-Store

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and clicks to find what they want. Tablets can also turn into iBeacons, thanks to Apple's technology. A sales associate holding a clienteling iPad app, which he uses to assist with selling, might receive a notification when a client with the app approaches him, triggering a display of her customer information. The ability to seamlessly match a customer with her transactional data through iBeacon tips the interaction in favor of success. Nomi also offers analytics that use a combination of door counting, point-of-sale data, weather, and Wi-Fi information to measure how customers move through stores. Soon mobile app information will become a bigger part of that analytical picture. The information retailers can glean from customers who use apps is so valuable Ferrentino expects to see promotions driven around app downloads. "The app will become the new loyalty card. Like in the old days, when they give you discounts for getting a Banana Republic credit card, you're going to see the same thing with app downloads and registration," he says.

With the emphasis today on pull marketing over push marketing, retailers are already thinking of ways to engage customers without overwhelming them with notifications. One way Ferrentino thinks will be popular is through "tapping," which will allow users to tap their phone to get reviews about a product or enter a sweepstakes, ensuring customers only get information they want. But he says that ultimately, people won't even think about iBeacons, only the experience. "The iBeacons will start to blend into the fabric of the experience if there's convenience and utility in the app. It will not be something we're talking about separately."

Armed with iPads: Clienteling

The rise of the Internet has put a wealth of information in consumers' hands, from detailed product information to reviews to blogs that follow the latest trends. When consumers come to the store, they're bringing that information with them, which sometimes means they even know more than the people who are supposed to be helping them. "I had a specialty retailer CEO tell me, 'I'm sending my associates to a gunfight with a knife,' because the consumer had the mobile [device] and the sales associates didn't," Accenture's Scaff remembers. The CEO was left with a pressing question: "How do we [help] our associates in-store to serve this enabled, empowered consumer?" he says.

The consumers being served are more multichannel than the retailers. Research done on a product online with the help of an e-commerce store may not result in a sale until the consumer enters the store and makes a purchase. A customer may do research in the store but make the final decision to buy online. Still, there's a reason 95 percent of sales occur in stores. Customers can touch and experience the merchandise. They can try items on, and they can ask for advice from salespeople. Clienteling apps are arming sales associates with technology to keep them one step ahead of their customers.

At 2013's Shop.org conference, Matt Marcotte, the senior vice president of global retail for "affordable luxury" retailer Tory Burch, shared a clienteling success story. A male customer came into the store, looking for a gift for his wife because he' seen the Tory Burch logo on a pair of her shoes. Using the retailer's app, Client Book, the sales associate was able to look at her online and in-store purchases from the past two years, and helped the husband select a couple of items. The next day, the woman came into the store, exclaiming that "It's the first time in twenty years my husband has gotten it right!" Even better, a few hours later, her friend showed up, wanting to learn more about Client Book after her friend raved about it at lunch. "This is the kind of technology we want to use to enable an authentic relationship between our brand and our customer" Marcotte told the audience.

Currently, clienteling apps are most prevalent at high-end retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue or Tory Burch, but that's something that will change, according to Brian Girouard, Capgemini's vice president and leader of North America consumer products, retail and distribution. "We think where it's headed is a broader footprint in retail. We were in discussions with a grocery retailer, thinking about intercepting customers in aisles with their preferences, like a grocery advisor. There could be a video about the proper way to grill a steak, or the app could alert the deli that the customer is in the store."

The results of clienteling are measurable. "We've seen lifts in conversion rate, repeat customers, and sales for people who have been using clienteling apps," Girouard reports. Besides bringing in the omnichannel sales history for a salesperson to look at, it becomes another point in the sales cycle. "You have the opportunity to create a relationship with the customer in and outside the store. You can continue to serve customers through social media and email, so you create a relationship [with consumers] who were not ready to buy at the moment, make suggestions to them digitally, show them a new outfit in their virtual closet, or let them know of a new shipment of handbags," Girouard explains. "You understand who they are and what they've bought in the past."

When done right, clienteling apps don't just help the customer, they also help associates do their job. "One aspect we're missing is the employee productivity part," notes Vikrant Karnik, senior vice president and head of sales for enterprise cloud services at 

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