Clienteling: what it is, and why you need it on your retail POS

clienteling

 

You know the score. Customers are more demanding than ever. They are smart, they have high expectations, they know what they want, and they’re willing to shop around to get it. So how are you upping your game to give them the experience they want and expect?

For many, the answer lies in using technology to recreate the magic of a local boutique where the owner treats you like you are old friends, and can help you pick out the perfect outfit for a special occasion. It’s an approach also known as clienteling. 

Redefining customer service

Here’s a more detailed example of the power of clienteling in action. Imagine you are a shopper, entering a new electronics and homeware store. As soon as you step foot inside, you are greeted by friendly, knowledgable sales associates, all holding tablets or smartphones which allow them to access the information they need to help you. If you are looking for advice about a product, they can pull up the relevant information straight away and guide you through your options. If you have a question, they’ll be able to answer it – and if they can’t, they’ll look it up, or find someone else who knows. They can tell you about current deals and promotions. And when you’re ready to buy, you can check out anywhere in the store at any time.

What makes the experience great is the fact it feels so personalized and seamless. And if the store is part of a chain, you should be able to get the same level of service whichever store location you visit. That’s because the technology the staff has at their fingertips allows them to gain a 360-degree view of the customer, and the information is presented to them in such an intuitive manner that it doesn’t get in the way of allowing them to focus on their number one job – serving you. 

Why clienteling should matter to you

Clienteling puts the personal back into in-store shopping. It means that when your customers want a bit of hands-on assistance, your staff are in the best position to give it to them. It allows them to easily identify high-value, repeat customers. And it gives them the tools they need to be truly informed, not just about their customers, but also about your products as well.

According to the Boston Retail Partners’ Special Report on Mobile, 89% of retailers plan to put mobile solutions and apps in the hands of their store associates over the next three years, with specific aims to use them for customer identification, customer engagement, associate training and task management, point of sale (POS) and payments.

Customers want this technology too. A survey found that almost half of respondents would be encouraged to shop in-store if they could talk to knowledgeable store associates who could suggest products based on their purchase history. And almost three-quarters who have dealt with a store associate using technology to provide things like product information, credit card checkout, and inventory look-up said it resulted in a better shopping experience. 

It’s time to empower your staff

The problem many retailers face today is that most of their customers know more about their products than their staff does. That’s because they have the tools at their disposal to carry out the necessary research before they come into the store.

If your customers are looking to buy a new television, chances are they have already carried out comparisons online and read product reviews.  And if they haven’t, they want your associates to be able to provide that service and guide them to make the right decision. There’s nothing worse than them coming into your store and not getting the information they need. It’s likely to lead to dissatisfaction and lost sales.

So how can you get it right? You need to equip your staff with the same tools that your customers have. They need to be able to pull up product information on the POS and talk the customer through all the options available to them. They need to be able to compare products, look up specific features and carry out price matches. if they can do that, they’re most likely to close the sale and gain a valuable loyal client in the process.

Give your customers options

Even if you get all of this right, another big turn off for customers is having to deal with out of stocks – and, more in general, receiving unclear information about product availability. If a person has come into your store to buy a specific item, they’re likely to be annoyed if they end up having to leave without it.

Here’s where clienteling can help staff members turn disappointment into a positive experience. Take a fashion store, for example. A customer is trying on sunglasses, and a member of staff approaches to see how they can help. The customer says they are looking for a particular shape and color and want to see what options are available to them. The staff member takes the customer’s details and brings up their profile on the screen of the mobile POS. Now, using the clienteling view of the POS, they pull up the full range of sunglasses and filter by shape and color. The layout is very similar to the web store the customer used for browsing, and together with the store associate, they pick out some styles they like the look of. The store associate fetches the glasses for the customer to try on, and they refer back to the tablet to compare prices, look up product information, see which styles are trending right now, and read customer reviews.

In the end, the customer decides they want to go for a pair which isn’t in stock right now. They’ve tried the glasses on and love the style, but they want a different color. No problem. The store associate arranges for the glasses to be delivered from the warehouse to the customer’s home the next day. They pay upfront and take advantage of their existing loyalty points to get a discount. Even though the customer walks away without the product in their hands, they’re happy. They’ve had a great experience in-store and they’ve purchased the exact sunglasses they want for a great price.

Get your hands on the technology you need

The good news is that it’s not hard or expensive to get hold of the technology you need to support your clienteling strategy. Indeed, our full retail management solution, LS Central has clienteling build in as a feature within the POS.

The store associate simply pushes a button to take the POS into clienteling mode, and straight away they can use it to guide the customer through the shopping process.

In a recent Forbes article, mobile commerce expert Nitin Mangtani described clienteling as the future of retail. We couldn’t agree more. It’s time to revamp your in-store experience and give your staff the tools they need to become more knowledgeable and allow them to establish personal, meaningful relationships that generate more sales and boost customer satisfaction. It’s a win-win situation, for both parties.

To find out more about how you can make clienteling work for your business, please get in touch with us on  info@allonline365.com or  +27 (21) 205 3650. We will show you how you can take advantage of the built-in clienteling functionality in LS Central.

www.allonline365.com

Resource Credit | LS Retail

 

POS Implementation in a Large Restaurant Chain

pos

Five top tips for managing a successful POS implementation in a large restaurant chain

LS Retail has shared some important insights on the POS transformation. What do you think of when you hear the words “new point of sale (POS) system implementation”? Does the idea fill you with dread or have you had a positive experience? As one of our customers CIO put it, there is your company’s reputation – and yours too – at stake with the selection and implementation decision.

Either way, we know that few businesses enter into technology upgrading lightly, especially when we’re talking about a system that will affect every facet of your business for years to come. When your existing technology still gets you by, it can feel like a huge risk making such a big change. And, let’s face it, it’s not like we all have the extra budget and resources going spare.

Technology is one of those things where the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, does not apply. There comes a time when you must consider upgrading your systems if you want your business to remain competitive. Perhaps you need to boost efficiency in your kitchens, or maybe you’re looking to improve guest satisfaction. Modern POS solutions can make all the difference when it comes to simplifying your operations, having better oversight of your inventory, keeping track of your customers and speeding up service.  Today, this technology is no longer nice to have; it’s a strategic imperative.

So where do you start? How do you choose the right technology, and ensure the implementation project runs as smoothly as possible and you get the most from your investment?

One of our customers, a large restaurant chain in the US, faced this exact challenge a couple of years ago. They faced an end-of-life situation with their 20-year-old POS system. No new versions were being built and it was no longer supported. It was time to choose a new platform, and embark on a company-wide implementation project.

Fast forward to today: they’re running their brand new unified POS and ERP system, LS First, in over 70 restaurants with many more to follow. Sales are up, efficiency is at an all-time high, and they’re able to open new outlets faster than ever thanks to their integrated platform.

Here are five tips they shared to help you manage a successful POS implementation too.

Tip #1: plan, plan, plan

From start to go live, our customer’s project took eight months. We would say this is a fairly typical timeframe for the implementation of this scale. And this includes periods where the system is on lockdown as a result of seasonal constraints.

To ensure the project progresses as smoothly as possible, don’t cut corners in your planning. Look at your business and understand how the project will impact it at every stage of the process. Make sure your milestone dates are sensible and won’t place unnecessary strain on your business during busy times.

Leave no stone unturned and break the project down into manageable chunks – from the pilot phase to initial implementation to company-wide rollout. Consider important factors such as how you’re going to train your staff effectively, and when you’re going to install new hardware.

Remember, the work doesn’t stop once you’ve completed the pilot. Be prepared for multiple pilots and a lot of learning before you rip off the band-aid. It’s all a learning process.

And when you think you’re ready to roll the system out, take a breather. Don’t steamroll ahead; take a moment to see how the system is working and identify any issues that you couldn’t have planned for in your testing environment. Companies that are successful in projects like these take a considered approach.

TIP #2: set realistic expectations and ensure your key stakeholders are onboard

Get the buy-in from all stakeholders right from the beginning, and make it very clear what the goals and objectives of the project will be. Everybody needs to fully understand the desired end results. Don’t sell them a dream you can’t deliver on.

It may sound extreme, but sometimes businesses have likened a POS implementation to a heart transplant. It’s a big deal. POS data drives so many of your business decisions, and you don’t want to get anything wrong. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the decision-makers in this project are available to answer the critical questions when you need them to.

Equally, you must understand how much time should be devoted to a project like this for it to be a success. And then you need to give your project teams sufficient time to carry out the work. Make sure everybody knows what’s required of them, and ensure your IT and operations stakeholders communicate with one another.

And don’t rush. Set sensible, realistic timeframes from the start, and put the effort in to make sure you’re getting everything right, at every stage of the process.

Tip #3: be prepared for changes along the way

Even the best-prepared projects still encounter hurdles along the way. Know that when you’re dealing with an implementation of this nature and scale, it’s hard to plan for every eventuality. So be willing to adapt.

For example, our customer’s plans for staff training ended up being revised several times. At first, they intended to spread out their pilot restaurants across multiple districts. But then they realized this would make matters unnecessarily complicated for their district managers. In the end, they decided to roll out the new POS to all stores in one district at a time. This way the managers were fully invested in the project, and the organization was able to focus their training resources in one place at a time.

Ultimately, you need to accept that what you thought was the best approach initially may, in fact, need to change for the good of the project and the company.

Tip #4: Choose a trusted partner

The importance of selecting the right partner should not be underestimated. When deciding on a solution, ask yourself who your long-term partners will be. Once the pilot and system rollout are complete, who are you going to be left working with? At first, you may be dealing with resellers. Take the time to figure out who you’ll be dealing with directly once they’re out of the picture. Will they provide the ongoing support that you need? Do they fully understand your business needs?

For our large US customer, it was important that they found an IT partner which had a deep knowledge of both the retail and hospitality industries. They needed someone who could relate to their business needs, appreciate the unique intricacies of both sectors, and be open to making a positive change in the product. Success comes down to establishing a mutually beneficial partnership based on trust and gained through transparency.

Tip #5: Make sure you look at the bigger picture

In some ways, installing a new POS is like putting a new roof on your house. It will prepare you for the storms ahead.

So while it’s important to focus on the immediate benefits your new solution will bring to your business, it’s just as critical to consider the longer-term impacts too. For example, our customer has seen a significant rise in efficiency on the restaurant floor as staff can take orders much faster using mobile POS. But the benefits reach far beyond this. Equipped with a modern POS, the business is now able to grow. With a modern platform to rely on, it’s far easier to open new stores. Leaders can now explore how to expand the business in different ways.

Keep an eye on how you’re going to achieve a return on investment, but make sure you’re constantly re-evaluating what those returns will be, and keep your perspective open: in some ways, you cannot really put a price on a platform which will future-proof your business, scale with your needs and adapt to your unique requirements.

But don’t just take our word for it. Starfleet Research’s latest survey on Restaurant Management and POS Systems found that almost three-quarters of fast food and fast-casual restaurant owners saw a significant or dramatic improvement to their overall performance and financial results when they upgraded their restaurant management and POS system within the last three years. The response was even more positive from full-service restaurants. More than eight out of ten said their POS implementation had a dramatic effect on their business.

Want to find out how we can help you with your new POS implementation journey? We are a proud LS Central partner and can offer advice and guidance on how to fast track your business into the digital age. You can contact us on  info@allonline365.com or  +27 (21) 205 3650

www.allonline365.com 

Resource Credit | LS Retail 

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