Are you looking to deliver consistently exceptional experiences?

CRM has given us the ability to keep track of every customer interaction. By understanding our customers more intimately we can provide them with a better experience. Not just a better experience once, but consistently. Yet why is it that brands find it so difficult to provide a truly personalised experience?

We acknowledge that retailers using leading CRM systems such as Salesforce are able to gather information about past purchases, spending frequency, store and delivery preferences however, it is evident that brands often either fail to remember the reason why they are collecting this data or fail to use it in a relevant way. Which is to enable the R in CRM, the relationship.

Technology can help us to focus on the intimacy that takes place whilst these relationships are being formed but it’s up to us to push what CRM can do for our businesses. Data needs to be surfaced, analysed and used in a way that is meaningful to the retailer and the customer. By putting human interaction at the heart of communication between on and offline communication we cultivate authentic relationships. CRM informs the relationship but doesn’t drive it. It is up to the business and sales associates to capitalise on the opportunity that understanding data has presented. To remain relevant to our customers we need to leverage customer data in the right way. We also need to clear the obstacles that block us from delivering relevant communications.

By surfacing data into the hands of the sales associate through a shop floor app we offer a new level of customer intimacy. This is increasingly important as customers have many ways in which they interact with a brand. For example, it could be in-store in London, or NYC or online in France. Yet the same level of experience is desired by the customer. This experience should be consistently exceptional regardless of geography or which particular sales associate a customer comes into contact with. This is where well-utilised CRM comes into its own. It provides an accurate, global view of each individual customer. Cloud-based CRM systems enable us to use any connected device in any location. This mobilises a marketing force from head office to shop floor.

We also find that great brands recognise that relationships take time to nurture and need two-way interaction to develop. Through personalised communication and marketing outreach each customer interaction is always relevant. This ensures customers are happy and helps retailers to benefit from an increase of up to 25% increase in repeat purchase. In addition, improvements in Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) can be achieved.

“By using behavioural data, such as mobile, desktop, app usage and cross-referencing that with the type of query and response we are able to build a comprehensive picture of how and when customers choose to interact. This depth of knowledge is impossible without CRM and clienteling and in our experience, it is augmented by human interaction”. Matt Lacey, co-founder Proximity Insight

To understand what customers want, we have to support them to be in control of their relationship. Without the choice of different ways to interact with us we will not be able to build a true picture of the preferred communication channel or purchase preference. Over time we build data and through analysis we build understanding. Clienteling platforms such as Proximity Insight leverage customer data to support valuable relationships. We need to make every interaction count to remain relevant.

So, looking forward it is important to consider that you need to find the right approach to communicate with your customer in a meaningful way and whilst you are working out your approach don’t forget to consider what communication will look like if the customer was in control of the relationship…….watch out for some interesting new product features from Proximity Insight in September 2018 which will truly shift the dynamic of customer relationships.


Is there a role for tradition in the store of the future?

The traditional fashion business model has seen fundamental changes over the past decade, because of the digital revolution. It is now, more than ever before, convenient and easier to shop anytime, anyplace and the choice of products and services continues to grow. Brands now have greater and quicker exposure to markets that previously would have taken years to enter which makes the market even more competitive.

Furthermore, the UK high street continues to see unprecedented levels of closures. Marks & Spencer recently revealed plans to close a total of 100 shops by 2022. Other UK high street retailers have planned closures: Mothercare 50 stores, New Look 60, and House of Fraser 31 stores.

It is no wonder that retailers are looking at new ways to make their stores relevant to customers.

The in-store experience is of great importance and tradition plays a key role, particularly getting back to the basics for exceptional service. A traditional retail experience relies on a direct, face-to-face connection with the customer, who are 60% more likely to return to the same store because they value that connection with the retailer and importantly the sales associate. Unfortunately, those brands that have been slow to change their in-store experience are typically the brands that we now see closing stores. 

A retail transformation is being seen across the whole fashion industry, at luxury and high street level. Brands are looking to connect with old and new customers in a more relevant, meaningful way. 

Gucci chief executive Marco Bizzarri said shoppers are equally bored by traditional stores and bland websites. “The younger generation isn't interested in the retail experience because the retail experience is not interesting." In Gucci’s new SoHo, New York store, “connectors” (store associates) are hired for their ability to tell Gucci’s story. The brand story and how it is told, and by whom is becoming increasingly important.

Zara’s new Westfield Stratford store is ‘designed with pioneering technology to transform the customer shopping experience at its heart. 

Focusing on ease of transaction Zara integrate physical stores and online through automated order collection points (serviced by a concealed area able to handle 2,400 orders simultaneously), self-checkout and mobile payment systems support by staff with iPads. 

In addition the customer experience is enhanced by interactive mirrors equipped with RFID which can detect the garment a customer is holding, enabling customers to see what a complete outfit will look like in the mirror. 

Having used the self checkout at Westfield London and being asked by security to return to a till point after the security alarm went off due to the tags on accessories (which you can’t see or take off), I’m yet to be convinced by the efficiency for all transactions. However one thing that is clear is that it’s a step in the right direction, giving the customer the option of the type of experience they want. Implementing technology in the right way as we know is not as easy as pressing a button, and everyone needs to be on board with the change. 

Connecting with store associates through human emotion, shared experiences and passion for a brand and it’s product must be supported by head office. Companies who are looking to remain relevant need to invest in their teams and the tools that the teams use to offer the best in-store experience possible. 

I recently attended a FashMash Event where Farfetch MD of Store of the Future, Sandrine Deveaux, discussed her team’s approach to keeping retail exciting. A big part of it for Farfetch is empowering their ‘Instore Influencers’ (store associates) with knowledge. They view the role of the Instore Influencer as a totally new profession. A profession that needs to be nurtured, invested in and supported. The store associate has the ability to not only connect with the customer but influence the sale. If they have the right information about the product, the knowledge of how the garment was made, the story of the collection, how the designer translated their experiences and research into the collection, that might just make the difference between making a sale or not. 

Valuing store associates is not a new concept. Traditional retailers know their customers intimately. Store associates often have a black book with preferences, phone numbers and past purchase history all noted. They genuinely care about their customer, and are often rewarded through sales commission. However, what is new, is the scale of new retail. 

Retailers and brands have easier access to increased global reach because of the digital revolution. Which means to serve a customer, who may live in many countries, buying online and in physical stores, the need for ‘The Store of The Future’ has arisen. Creating a seamless, single view of a particular customer has become something that store associates worldwide need to manage. The black book has to be digital, on brand, and accessible to all from head office to in-store teams. 

The key to the success of these tools is having the traditional drivers for relationship management at the core. It’s not about capturing data for the sake of customer capture metrics. It’s about using that information to cultivate a relationship, globally, on and offline. 

Image credit gucci.com

07.06.18 Article amended to update House of Fraser store closure figures to 31 following announcement.


Thank You

Always a retailer at heart...why physical retail is here to stay.

Having had some time to reflect on the the themes of various events I have attended in the first quarter of this year I thought I would like to focus on why I feel that physical retail is here to stay.

It comes as no surprise that the main messages that are being blasted through the expo halls and in various keynotes focus on the future of retail. Topics such as the era of AI with an emphasis on IoT, automation and innovation are followed hotly by numerous forums for “reinventing retail” and the prevailing need for retailers to digitally transform their customer experiences.

These are all thought provoking themes but the underlying message that continues to resonate with me is that this does not mean the end of the physical retail. It just means that our customers shop differently and therefore there is a need for retailers to adapt and evolve the purpose of the store and the overall store experience. And this is definitely not new news!

I am passionate about the role of the modern retail store and it’s place as the heart and soul of the brand – whether you are buying a coffee or a car, retail is essentially a service industry. It was 30 years ago when I started my career on the shop floor and my very first manager taught me the principles of great customer service (thank you Carol Hubbard!). The majority of those principles have not changed despite the deluge of digital disruption.

What has changed is the customer’s expectations and their path to purchase. Today’s customer has greater choice and convenience and has access to more information than ever before about the products he or she wishes to purchase – often more information than our store teams. In my day the sales associate was the font of all knowledge, or at least the good ones were, but today unless the sales associate is equipped with great in-store tech they are often left to use their own devices to find out information on behalf of the customer and that is not always a great experience.

In today’s Amazon age the store has to be the place for the customer to go and experience the brand, to feel part of a community and to connect emotionally. A great store experience has a blend of what our customer success teams call the aspirational “A*s” – ambience, assortment and associates.

A* Ambience is about the store as a destination, the store providing an experience beyond just browsing and touching, the store as a fulfilment centre, a place where you can test, explore, be inspired and also as a leisure destination delivering an ambience of fun, differentiation and a memorable experience.

A* Assortment is of course essential as retail is all about having amazing products but in today’s world it is less about having the product in the right place as long as you can somehow exceed customer expectations and get the product to them quickly and conveniently.

A* Associates – friendly, knowledgeable associates that have information at their fingertips, are passionate about the products they sell and can humanise and inspire their customers – consistently delivering the “I in AI”.

Brick and mortar retailers have an opportunity to excel at what they do best – to create a great customer experience and build lifelong relationships. They have an innate advantage when it comes to making an emotional connection with their customers and let’s face it most non-commodity purchases we make as consumers involve an emotion and so today’s retail world definitely demands high EQ.

So we are now at a stage where these messages can no longer just be “thought provoking” and “interesting” – we cannot afford to be complacent – we have to take action – a little action is better than no action at all and so I would advocate trying three things:

1. Create that connection from the very first time a customer purchases with your brand and ensure that every interaction with your customer is focused on building that lifelong relationship.

2. Connect with your customers and don’t communicate at your customers; get to know them, what he or she likes and wow them with simple “messages and personalised follow ups.

3. Measure, analyse and continually adapt your customer journeys. Make customer success stories the most important agenda topic every Monday morning. Celebrate and reward examples of great customer service.

Regardless of how small or big your retail business is why not execute at least one of the above suggestions after the Easter break and measure the impact. Empower your store teams to make this happen and let us know how it works out for you!

Have a great, fun Easter! Let's hope the sun shines and the tills keep ringing!


proximity insight customer hub header

Cathy Interviewed On Empowering Your Sales Assistants

Cate Trotter of Insider Trends, recently interviewed our CEO, Cathy McCabe. In the interview they discussed how our Shop Floor Engagement platform is being used by our customers to democratize the customer experience:

It’s a really good time in retail. I think brands are suddenly waking up to how do they start to reimagine and reinvent the store and blend that with their online channels. There’s been a lot of talk around new tech and how can tech enable that in-store experience and connect those journeys between the digital experience and the physical experience. But I think people have been reluctant to really try to shift the power to the sales associates away from automated marketing. We’re really seeing a response to the fact that you can have a really simple front-end that acts as glue between all your disparate systems.

Read more at Insider Trends


How Matchesfashion is transforming consumer experience

A fantastic write up by Drapers of our session with Ines Lareo.

 

Speaking during a session at Drapers Fashion Forum on 12 October, held at London’s County Hall, Matchesfashion global customer experience director Ines Lareo said avoiding “silos” is critical in improving customer experience.

Challenges faced by retailers’ sales associates when trying to provide standout customer experiences included incomplete product knowledge, limited visibility of customer purchases and lack of intuitive tools, Matchesfashion’s marketing platform partner Proximity Insight has said.

1. Train staff to understand customer needs

A key aspect is providing teams with the information and tools they need to understand and meet individual customer expectations.

Lareo said: “We don’t work in silos. Everyone contributes to the experience that’s fundamental to the brand. The teams get a lot of training and the tools to realise this vision. It’s easy for us to say, ’yes, everyone wants experience’, but it’s about powering your teams to realise this. Information is key – how they can manage time and experience, and the training you provide to them in terms of expectations.

“More importantly, you can’t be customer-centric – you can’t expect every customer will get everything they need. One customer might want fast and furious 90-minute delivery on an item, but others might want to interact, or make an important purchase for a wedding or important presentation, so they want more time to try on more product. Your team needs to understand what each customer needs.”

2. Safeguard the business

Lareo also linked the importance of protecting customer data with the notion of shifting in-store engagement towards online, to build trust and interaction.

“Privacy is huge for us. Obviously we collect data from 100% of our online customers but customers also give us their contact details in stores. We work to the highest level of protection, and we’re now helping all our suppliers and partners achieve the same level of security.”

Lareo added that customers at Matchesfashion stores are increasingly engaging with the retailer online, estimating that 400 emails per week sent to customers making a purchase have gained a 27% engaged response rate, which “is growing”.

3. Provide one experience

Lareo emphasised the importance of providing a consistent customer experience by blurring physical and digital journeys.

She said that vitally, sales associates can access purchase histories from tills and communicate through the retailer’s app while on the shop floor through iPads, which has enhanced customer relationships.

“Multichannel is a word that’s banned in the office. We see it more as customers being able to buy from us through key access points. Customers want to interact with the brand, so we don’t want to direct them into just one single channel,” she said.

“Our strategy looked at how we could personalise online and make it more physical; and the physical more digital. [Physical] stores are fundamental as the DNA and physical representation of the brand. It’s about bringing physicality into the customer experience, and how the learnings of these stores are passed to our digital [offering].”

 

Full article here 


Retail CIO Feature 1

Top Retail CRM Provider 2017 - Retail CIO Outlook Magazine

Proximity Insight are delighted to be recognized by Retail CIO Outlook as one of the top 10 retail CRM solution providers for 2017!
Retail CIO Outlook

To be considered for inclusion, companies had to “showcase in-depth expertise in delivering innovative CRM solutions that boost operational efficiency for retailers”. At Proximity Insight, this's what we are all about. We understand the importance of enabling in-store touch points and view this as a significant opportunity for the retail sector. In-store transactions account for 80-90 percent of all retail sales and that figure is projected to remain consistent for the next decade. We help our clients produce dynamic clienteling business tools that help sales associates navigate the entire customer lifecycle, and drive sales by providing the best customers to contact, along with the right channel, messaging and timing that will resonate.

Read more


NYC

NYC NRF 2017 Wrap Up

NRF 2017 in New York City was bigger and better than ever, with over 35,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors. All the usual technology vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM and Intel were there to demo the latest offerings to retailers from all over the world. After the acquisition of Demandware (now Commerce Cloud), Salesforce is quickly becoming a serious player in the retail space, and their presence increased dramatically at this year’s show.

The theme this year was a typical one: the future of retail and how the environment needs to shift to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving consumer.

In his keynote, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich described how customer insight will transform retail by creating opportunities to predict customer behavior. This will reinvent the store experience and transform how retailers utilize analytics.

"Data is at the heart of the customer relationship, and it’s driving transformation."
Read more


cartier mansion

Cartier Mansion

Proximity Insight is about to launch at the long-awaited grand re-opening of the flagship Cartier Mansion on 5th Avenue, following redevelopment which commenced in 2014. The redevelopment facilitated this year's most advanced roll-out of brick-and-mortar retail technology, as well as producing the most epic party of NYFW SS17 (cc Sienna Miller, Rooney Mara, Katie Holmes, Lewis Hamilton, Uma Thurman, Ellie Goulding).

 

We utilise an interactive map, with location-based discovery, to create an immersive experience for staff as they learn about the brand and products. For Cartier we've tailored our platform to include directory-style lookup for products and content, location-content aggregated from social channels, and intuitive layout including a magazine view. Our objective with is to deliver information by engaging users to increase retention, something that is imperative for a retail space the size of Cartier Mansion. The experience is fun and fluid - something suited to not only staff, but also customers.

 

You can read more about the mansion project here:
The Cartier Mansion, Earth's Fanciest Store, Just Got Even Fancier | GQ
Renovation Restores the Luster to Cartier Flagship | New York Times

 
 
 


Craig

All About Me: The Value of Customer-Centric Focus

By Craig Crawford
First Published by AATCC News

 

Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, shopping has become a 24/7 experience. Digitally-savvy consumers research before purchase, and share their experiences—good or bad—socially. Consumers expect to shop frictionlessly anytime, anywhere, and on any device with free shipping, free returns, and receive assistance in real time online or on the phone. They also expect to order online and pick up in store.

As brands align behavior in the physical and digital spaces, it makes sense that they become “customer centric”—putting the customer at the center of everything they do to create the best customer experience.

“Most brands struggle today to deliver a positive experience from sale through service,” explains Billy Loizou, Chief Marketing Technologist at Digital Logic Marketing Solutions, an Australian-based digital marketing agency that specializes in online and offline campaigns for medium to large-sized companies. According to Loizou, “89% of customers are leaving brands due to a bad customer experience.”

“Organizations are no longer just focused on the ‘increase in ROI.’ They are now also conscious of two other metrics: ‘Customer Satisfaction’ and the ‘Willingness to Recommend.’ The close link between service and marketing is now apparent,” he explains.

Kester Dobson, Head of Technology for London based Harris + Hoole, a specialty coffee chain aiming to “Bring Better Coffee to the High Street,” agrees.

“Brick and mortar retailing and hospitality brands have historically been focused on sales/labor ratios, product margins, and operational efficiency,” Dobson says. “While many brands talk about customer-centric experiences, it’s only lip service until you accept that all this ‘customer experience stuff’ could have a detrimental impact on some of these finance KPIs. The brands that succeed here accept the long term benefit of investing in the customer as part of a relationship, not just a series of transactions.”

“It’s no surprise that companies who invest in a ‘customer-centric’ strategy are seeing amazing results in their overall business KPI’s,” Loizou says. “The best brands in the world provide their customers with a memorable experience. That experience creates an emotional connection which will stay with the customer for life.”

“The CEO of ao.com [London-based Appliances Online] spends two hours a day responding to customers, signing letters,” says Will Dymott, Head of Data and CRM at Practicology, a London-based consultancy focused on eCommerce and multi-channel retailing. “Their whole business was reinvented when they put their focus on the customer,” he explains. “Instead of figuring out the best offer, now they work on giving the best service. Case in point, the call center staff have the ability to send flowers without approval if an order is messed up.”

“On every project, we build out from the customer,” explains Jeremy Wilson, Practicology’s Chief Commercial Officer.

In 2011, Burberry was considered an early adopter of ‘click to chat’ (the ability to have real time chat messaging with a sales associate) and ‘click to call’ (the ability to schedule a call back from a sales associate when it is convenient for you) technologies. Today, brands that don’t offer these plug ins as well as ‘click and collect’ services are viewed as laggards. (‘Click and collect’ allows a customer to purchase online and pick up in-store instead of being charged for shipping).

“Click and Collect is a convenience our customers want,” explains Cathy McCabe, CIO Jaeger, a London-based fashion brand and retailer of menswear and womenswear. McCabe also looks after customer strategy for Jaeger, since technology touches every part of the brand vision.

“Buying online and trying on in-store gives the customer the confidence she needs when shopping for clothes online,” McCabe explains. “And it gives us the opportunity to learn more about our online customer in-store.”

Jaeger has recently launched an in store clienteling iPad app. Shortlisted this year for three Drapers Digital Awards and two Retail Week Customer Experience Awards, the app allows sales associates to see a customer’s purchase history and ecommerce wish list, make recommendations for purchase, and send personalized emails to customers.

“The real shift here is that brands now have the ability to create and maintain relationships with their customers through digital tools like clienteling,” says Steve Orell, Partner-Operations of New York-based Proximity Insight, creators of the clienteling app used by Jaeger.

Fifteen marketing industry insiders in the Direct Marketing News 2016 Marketing Outlook eBook (Part 1) cite personalization, customer insight, and technology as pivotal to successful customer relationship management.

“To remain competitive, brands must be proactive in their understanding of their customers and reach out to them in personal meaningful ways,” Orell says.

“Personalization can take so many forms—everything from a clustering algorithm picking the product it thinks you’ve missed in your shopping journey and sending you a pic, to a sales associate saying ‘Hey, it was great to see you last week, those new Valentino flats just arrived and look amazing—let me know if you want us to hold on to a pair for you!’” he explains.

“For the higher tiers of engaged customers, we’ve shown the second type of personalization is at least 20 times more effective than the first. The downside is that it utilizes more resources. There’s a lot of value to be captured for brands that get the math right and have a combined strategy. I think the most powerful examples of personalization will always be humanistic—but that doesn’t mean an unsystematic approach. Proximity Insight is making some pretty big bets based on that premise.”

Providing in-store sales teams and customer service representatives in call centers with “one single view of the customer” is well beyond the traditional boundaries of CRM databases and loyalty programs, Orell says.

In this years Drapers and RetailWeek Personalization Report, a survey of retail executives highlighting how retailers are embracing personalization to drive sales and loyalty, 37% said they still cannot synchronize the customer experience across channels and devices. Inflexible ecommerce platforms were the number one barrier to success (followed closely by budget and human resource to implement).

The Proximity Insight app leverages thesalesforce.com CRM platform.

“Platforms as a service, software as a service, and apps that make use of APIs to surface data allow everyone in the brand to take action. These actionable insights allow for personalized communications,” Orell explains. “Dialogue is what relationships are built on.”

 
 


iPad Email

Check out our new retail clienteling video

Proximity Insight takes the flood of corporate data and puts it into the hands of those on the ground in an intelligent, easily understandable, and instantly actionable way. From our mobile clienteling platform:

1) retail sales associates can manage all client contact through email, text, and social media, see all client interactions with brand across every channel, and review sales goals;
2) managers can assign tasks to associates, see how each associate is performing, and see how their store is performing;
3) Corporate can communicate information on new products and press, review store performance, and see the customer journey and sales attribution from micro to macro.