The world has undergone a host of important changes in the last decade: the advance of technology and the recent pandemic have shifted a lot of attention to the digital world and the digital world has changed a lot of our habits.
These changes have affected many aspects of life and business, and one of these is certainly shopping. Yes, we’ve already noticed that more people shop online and more often. But the change is bigger than that.
If people were simply stopping buying in retail stores to only buy online, we would see all retail stores getting closed all over the world and more e-commerce websites being born every day. And yet, people are still going shopping at physical retailers, especially for luxury goods. How come?
It’s because retail shopping has changed. And, if you want your luxury retail store to be and keep being successful, you need to understand the nature of this change. In this article, we’ll explore how the luxury shopping experience is changing and the top trends for 2023. We’ll also discuss what strategies luxury retailers can implement to ride these waves to make sure their business can remain profitable no matter the profound changes that our industry, society and consumer behavior is facing.
Importance of in-store experience will increase
With online shopping becoming more common, if in-store shopping wants to survive, it needs to play on its strengths.
Online shopping has many advantages over retail shopping: people don’t need to leave the house, products are delivered directly to their home, a higher number of options are often available (endless aisle), and prices are often lower. But what is the one thing that online shopping can’t give to their customers? Experience.
Luxury retail seems to have understood this important strength and is focusing on it: the future of the luxury shopping experience is a lot less about products and a lot more about the experience itself.
Customers visiting physical stores are more interested in the immersive shopping experience more than in the products themselves. If they were merely interested in the product, they’d have bought it online: it would’ve been quicker and less expensive. This reminds me of a Clubhouse chat with Darshan Mehta of Reliance Brands Limited (RBL) that was hosted by StyleSend.io founder Saksham Karwal where Darshan says “offline retail is not dead, it is boring retail that is dead.”
When customers spend time visiting a store, especially a luxury store, they are expecting a personalized and technology-driven experience. It’s important for luxury retailers to provide an engaging, interesting and memorable experience if they want to stand out in this competitive retail world.
Omnichannel shopping will be the norm
Luxury retailers can’t do without technology if they have to provide a seamless omnichannel experience for customers today. Among other things, retail software tools can help customers test and try products even when they are not physically present. Furthermore, digital 1:! communication channels and payment methods must be available for clients.
Customers should no longer need to choose between physical or online shopping: they have at their disposal an omnichannel shopping experience that blurs the line between online shopping and in-store shopping. The distinction disappears, leaving space for an immersive omnichannel shopping journey.
Personalization will be expected by customers
The shopping experience of the future – the very immediate future – is personalized. Especially when it comes to luxury retail, clients expect to feel welcomed with the communication and services being tailored to their preferences.
Let’s take payment preferences as an example. Millennials and Gen Z expect to pay with digital payment methods: they would utilize their devices to pay, instead of their cards, so they want processes to be quick and free of technical issues. Older clients would expect different payment methods such as card or cash and they may even want a paper invoice instead of an email or SMS invoice. Either way, preferences are individual and as a retailer you must know your customers’s preferences so you can personalize the experience for them.
As the shopping experience is becoming more and more personalized for each specific client, an entire new industry has cropped up within the retail software space: clienteling tools. These are tools today that can help you and your store associates to provide the most customized shopping experience to your key clients. These apps help a retail associate pull up the most important customer data and product data when interacting with a client in-store or remotely. This customer information helps the associate offer a personalized experience for their client and they end up building a trustworthy relationship with them.
In 2023, the shopping experience in luxury retail is going the clienteling way.
How clienteling can help your business provide the shopping experience customers want in 2023
If you want your luxury retail store to grow in 2023 and not be crushed by online competitors, you must address the trends we’ve analyzed, and make strategies for your business that can help it offer a customer experience abreast with the times.
You need a strategy that allows your business to implement the three major changes we’ve discussed: shopping experience over product, seamless omnichannel flows, and personalization at an individual level. There is one practice that can help you achieve these and that is clienteling.
What is clienteling?
Clienteling is a technique that helps retail store associates to establish long term meaningful relationships with their most important clients by offering a genuinely personal experience each time they interact with them.
Clienteling strategies are always based on data: data is gathered about clients’ preferences, purchases, and more. With clienteling, you are able to retrieve clients’ data quickly to offer the best shopping experience possible (and the best shopping experience possible, as we’ve seen, is personalized and omnichannel).
The main aim of any clienteling strategy is to build trust with your clients and ensure their shopping experience with your brand is always as fine and memorable as possible.
How clienteling works today
Clienteling is not a new practice. It is centuries old. The most exclusive stores kept notes on their most important customers using handwritten diaries. Store associates still use blackbooks to remember things about their clients. Today, the table stakes for clienteling are very high though.
The best way of understanding clienteling is this: you need to consider two parts to successful clienteling:
- On one hand, you need a tool that allows you to collect data; this is often a software tool used together with marketing and other strategies that allows you to get to know your clients and collect specific and objective data about them from across sources;
- On the other hand, you need to access this data and use it in an efficient way. In simple terms, you need a software tool that provides you with the data you need just when you need it.
This is the basis of clienteling, but clienteling goes even beyond that: premium customer services, omnichannel, 1:1 communication, event invites, appointment booking and engagement strategies are all part of clienteling. Retailers rely on clienteling apps to elevate their relationship with clients and increase their ability to make shopping more personal and relevant.
How to implement clienteling strategies in 2023
Now that you know what clienteling is, and why you need it, it’s time to discuss how to successfully execute the right clienteling strategies.
Clienteling relies on different skills: communication, creativity, knowledge, and more but the foundation of clienteling is always technology – or, better, is always software, clienteling software.
How does retail clienteling software work?
A retail clienteling software is a comprehensive platform that allows you to manage different processes, but first of all, collects and stores data in an efficient way. The tool needs to provide you with clients’ data exactly when you need it, hence an optimized database is a must. The best luxury retail clienteling softwares allows you to collect data easily, without letting your associates feel the burden of having to record every data field; in other words, they pull in the right data automatically, without you needing to lift a finger.
Second, the clienteling platform must allow you to use and get access to data just as easily as you recorded it. This data then needs to be displayed in an easy to read user interface for you or your associates. Which is why a top clienteling tool will have native iOS and Android mobile and iPad apps.
Furthermore, a clienteling software provides you with a bunch of other features aimed at improving the shopping experience for key clients:
- omnichannel features: product browsing, try-ons, appointment scheduling, customer service, payment options, for example, need to be omnichannel experiences.
- automation features: automation can’t be limited to data collection. There must be other types of automation to make the clienteling strategies and processes more efficient: for example, automated creation of audience segments with ability to broadcast communication with personalized messaging.
- integration features: when you are running a luxury retail business, your focus should be on what you do best. Technology and software is always a black hole. A clienteling software won’t be the only software you use in your retail operations. Almost certainly, you’re using multiple software SaaS tools, so you want a clienteling app to be easy to integrate so that all your retail softwares can sync their data, talk to each other and work as one.
Top 5 recommended clienteling platforms for luxury retail
Not all clienteling software tools are the same, that’s why it is important to recommend the best ones. The best clienteling platforms for luxury retail are those that allow you to enhance and personalize the shopping experience for your clients and make it omnichannel.
Let’s take a look at the 5 best clienteling apps for luxury retailers.
StyleSend is the only clienteling platform specifically built for luxury retailers.
With its features, StyleSend can help you enhance the experience that clients have inside your store and outside of it. The StyleSend mobile app can be used by your retail associates to have the right information at their fingertips when serving customers.
StyleSend provides associates with features that enable them to offer a seamless omnichannel experience. Some of the features include:
- Secret Assistant: an assistant that nudges you with important client data and preferences at the most opportune moments
- Shoppable Look Creator: allows you to floor your customers by creating shoppable looks from your product catalog, obviously tailored to their style
- AI Recommendations: using customer data about preferences, behavior, and past purchases, the StyleSend recommendation engine gives associates individualized recommendations to share with their clients
Importantly, the team at StyleSend has figured out and built no-code integrations for popular platforms such as Shopify, SAP, Oracle, Wix, WooCommerce, Magento etc. This makes getting started with clienteling extremely easy (takes literally 2 minutes!) and you can avail a free 14-day trial.
Tulip isn’t strictly aimed at luxury retailers but it is focused on providing sellers with a suite of omnichannel retail tools. As per their site, the Tulip tool can create customer profiles that you can use to personalize their shopping experience.
It provides a user-friendly dashboard through which you can take all the different aspects under control. The omnichannel features are many: omnichannel communication, omnichannel data tracking, omnichannel client book management, and the possibility of having real-time access to performance data.
Endear provides clienteling digital solutions for retailers. This is an app that you can use to manage different aspects of your relationship with your clients and your marketing strategies: from clienteling to segmentation, from automation to personalization of every interaction with your clients, this app provides anything you need to enhance your retail business and meet the shopping experience expectations in 2023.
If this is your first-ever approach to clienteling, however, the Endear software tool could be a bit complex: beginners can find it overwhelming.
More than a simple app, Red Ant is an ecosystem. You can think of it as an operating system where you can install all the different apps that you might need. With this mechanism, the platform is, yes, complex, but it provides a familiar system that is easy to manage.
The apps in the Red And system allow you to use all the different channels at your disposal to communicate with your clients, show products, and process payments. They are also focused on personalization, collecting and retrieving data automatically to help you identify each client’s needs and preferences.
Mercaux provides in-store and online solutions to bring your clients’ shopping experience to another level. The features available are: a digital fitting room, assisted selling & omnichannel, appointment scheduling, remote selling, self-service kiosks, and more.
The uniqueness of this platform is that it is composable: you can combine the different solutions you need and scale up the features with time, as your business or needs grow.
In this article, we’ve seen how the shopping experience in luxury retail is evolving in 2023. The customer experience (CX) is becoming central in luxury retail sales. To keep pace with these changes, retailers must to implement strategies that help them win in an era of personalization and omnichannel journeys.
If you’re unsure about your clienteling strategy, you can schedule a demo with our clienteling experts or if you want to read more check out our article titled 6 Ways to Improve Your Clienteling Strategy.
If you’ve done your research and are ready to implement clienteling for your business, you can visit the appropriate page to get started: Clienteling App for Small Retailers or Clienteling App for Enterprise Retailers.
Some of the images used are from Unsplash – we love you!