In a world where e-commerce is booming, brick-and-mortar stores are decreasing, and home delivery is faster than ever, the retail landscape is noticeably changing by the day. In this environment of constant change, an outstanding customer experience (CX) can be a brand’s best competitive differentiator. One of the best trends I’ve seen to enhance the shopping experience leveraging the last mile is called clienteling.

According to Salesforce clienteling includes “processes or tools used to promote customer satisfaction through the personalization of the shopping experience.” In its most basic form, clienteling could be simple in-store assistance, but the concept has come a long way. For example, Gucci implements clienteling by broadcasting live streams from its Florence store, with staff featuring--worldwide, on screen, and in real-time--items requested by viewers across the world. Stitch Fix “gamifies” the shopping experience with its Style Shuffle, an app that allows users to give outfits a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” At the same time, the application learns their fashion preferences, enabling Stitch Fix to offer its customers more personalized fashion choices.

Periods of economic challenge have often led retailers to find fresh ways to connect with customers. During the Recession of 2007-2009, for example, retailers who pioneered new ways to enhance their customers’ experience saw returns three times higher than counterparts lagging in CX. To succeed in this tricky post-COVID retail environment, I’d like to recommend 3 ways brands can differentiate themselves with superior, personalized customer experience:

1.     Use the data right in front of you to personalize in-store shopping.

A successful clienteling strategy starts with a deep understanding of your target market, and this understanding begins with data. Luckily, this data is relatively easy to gather. When customers shop online, their purchase history, including past browsing behavior, is used to present them with personalized recommendations.

Another data gathering method called directed clienteling gives retailers’ staff access to similar information in-store through internal applications, empowering them to relate with in-person shoppers on a more human level. These apps help improve shopper satisfaction because associates can adapt recommendations based on items in stock not only in the customer’s size, but that also match the customers’ personal style and taste.

Finally, retailers can also meet shoppers where they are with self-directed clienteling. This method sends relevant information through geo-targeted app push notifications when customers are in-store.

Data-driven clienteling has real results. IHL Group projected that retailers using personalization could see growth rates triple than those of competitors. These days, when consumers have so many options, brands who do not offer tailored experiences may be left behind.

2.     Merge in-store and online experiences.

There are a variety of reasons a customer might choose to shop in-store over online, including being able to try on items and speak with associates for styling guidance. Through clienteling brands are bringing these services to customers’ screens, uniting strategies across each platform in an omnichannel approach. Jeweler Kendra Scott uses virtual reality technology to let online shoppers “try on” pieces. Nordstrom began offering online styling appointments during the pandemic, and Saks Fifth Avenue stylists can now conduct client consultations through Instagram direct messaging. With these services, customers can access the benefits of in-store shopping in their own homes, maximizing safety, saving time, and boosting satisfaction.

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3.     Don’t underestimate self-service options.

This past year introduced customers to contactless retail experiences, and many will not want to give them up once the virus is contained. Technologies like kiosk ordering and contactless returns increase efficiency, letting customers skip long lines and giving staff extra time to provide personal attention to customers. Plus, these services can provide a treasure trove of insight into customer behavior, including demographics, purchase history and frequency, pickup time of day, and more. Asking customers multiple choice CX questions at self-checkout is a way to contribute to the clienteling process without any face-to-face interaction. These questions quickly gather hundreds of consumer opinions that allow retailers to improve and further personalize their next shopping experience.

Let me show you how you can use clienteling and the last mile services it involves to set your brand apart. See how GEODIS City Delivery can help you craft a winning omnichannel strategy to increase customer satisfaction in-store and online.

Gina Anderson

Written by Gina Anderson

Vice President of Solutions & Growth. Gina Manis Anderson is an experienced entrepreneur, executive and logistics expert who’s spent more than 30 years helping Fortune 500 companies optimize their supply chains. A skilled leader and influencer, Gina has earned the respect of a large professional network through her businesses successes and passionate leadership.