Why clienteling is future of in-store retail

14 November 2013

Barry Moles

Barry Moles


Today, consumers can shop with their smartphones, do product reviews, check competitor’s prices in-store and on the bus. The retailer online is able to, with online customer interaction, capture information easily. However, in-store can be more different because unless the customer is a regular, the shopper can remain totally anonymous until presenting a card for payment. That is where clienteling begins. 

Clienteling provides a 360° view of the customer across all selling channels including a virtual closet of past purchases, as well as customer style and brand preferences.

The retailer’s POS infrastructure is the most important asset a retailer has to reach consumers within the store. However, most retailers don’t exploit it. With insight, retailers and their employees are able to identify and influence consumer behavior favorably to encourage purchases. Identifying and interacting with customers using I-Pads - or similar tablet devices - before they exit the store sales associates can make personalised recommendations that result in selling more.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Using mobile devices connected to a point of sale system, retailers can meet and exceed customer expectations.

How clienteling applications work

The clienteling applications run on a handheld tablet, enabling the tracking of individual customer shopping preferences.  This allows the sales associates in-store to look at the customer’s purchasing history and preferences.  This, in turn, permits sales associates to offer personalised recommendations.

There are a number of mobile applications claiming to be Clienteling solutions. However, they tend to fall short because their focus is limited, offering only product information or order taking. Clienteling is not just a CRM database, although it needs to be tightly integrated with an all-channel commerce platform. Store associates armed with customer history information can assist customers better and offer appropriate products.

Clienteling enables effective one-to-one selling techniques that provide a retailing experience that is convenient, entertaining and value-focused.  Though the tactics will vary from retailer to retailer, the overriding strategic aims will remains consistent.  To build stronger personalised customer relationships that delivers profitability through increased customer loyalty by utilising technology and customer data.

A clienteling solution facilitates targeted outreach at both corporate and store levels. Corporate level automation helps reinforce best customer engagement practices throughout all stores and to all sales associates. Store level outreach may be driven by individual store managers and / or sales associates.  At store level it’s based around identifying customers before they head for the exit. This allows the sales associates to access their purchasing records and make truly personalised recommendations. 

Benefits of clienteling

  1. Record, track and analyse customer sales history, needs and preferences using in-store clientele tools
  2. Carry out customer segmentation based on Recency – Frequency - Monetary (RFM) values or similar.
  3. Identification of your best customers using in-store 1:1 interaction and data warehouse analysis tools.
  4. Leverage this information gathered to provide personalised value propositions and value-added services to your best customers by predicting and suggesting future purchases.
  5. Identify customers before they head for the exit so sales associates can access their purchasing records and make truly personalised recommendations.
  6. Delivery of a personalised shopping experience to drive customer loyalty by transforming customer data into sales opportunities. 


The business impact of an effectively implemented clienteling strategy can be considerable on most high value retailers. It competes with the internet by offering a real point of difference which delivers a high valued personal service to customers. Clienteling can improve top-line revenue, increase the number of big-basket customers, slow customer defection rates and increase the number of customer visits.  At the same time, mobile clienteling solutions on I-Pads, or similar tablets, can improve sales associate productivity and provides a mechanism to monitor and improve associate selling behaviour in real time.

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About the author

Barry Moles


I am a retail expert, having spent more than 20 years in numerous managerial and operational roles including merchandise, supply chain, finance and marketing.

I bring a unique hands-on perspective to advising clients having worked in every retail category (food, electrical, clothing, telecoms, pharmacy, charity) across all consumer channels (out of town, online, shopping centres, department stores, concessions and outlet villages) for major retailers in the United Kingdom.

My passion, amongst many hot topics facing retailers, is helping senior executives and their teams plan and run omni-channel retail strategies.

When I am not with a client, I can either be found on the high street or travelling the world with my family.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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