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Andrea Hill

Here’s How Enhanced Clienteling Can Reinforce the Benefits of Brick-and-Mortar Retail

The right CRM platform will grow not just immediate sales, but client loyalty as well.

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THE JEWELRY INDUSTRY has rapidly adopted digital tools in the past year, which is a very positive trend. Digital marketing and business automation can make you more efficient and effective. But it’s important that jewelry retailers learn how to use those tools to become more of what a great jewelry retailer is — not to become a facsimile of an online pureplay.

And the big difference between online business and retail business is personal relationships.

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That means clienteling, which seems to be suffering as a practice. Some of that is due to the crazy year we’ve just had, but we were seeing declines in good retail clienteling behavior even before the pandemic. And that will hurt a jewelry store’s bridal business.

The good news? You can combine clienteling with a strong online prospecting game to find those engagement ring buyers earlier in their consideration phase and hold onto them for each of their big anniversaries and life events thereafter.

We all know the disappointment of meeting a bride-and-groom-to-be shopping for wedding bands, with the elsewhere-purchased engagement ring already on the bride’s finger. We register surprise when we hear about the child of a longtime client’s recent wedding — but we never saw them in the store. The challenge of attracting and keeping attention is more difficult than ever. But the right clienteling strategy can leverage strong local or regional awareness of your store and turn it into a get-them-into-the-store-and-turn-them-into-devoted-fans machine.

The trick is to know how to use your digital toolset to quickly transform your search, social, and advertising traffic into one-on-one personalized relationships. While the online pureplays are trying to move prospective buyers to the shopping cart, you should be moving prospective buyers onto a Zoom call, a one-on-one text conversation, or into the store for an appointment. When I see jewelry retailers fixated on tracking shopping cart conversions in their Google Analytics, I worry. How are they tracking conversions into store traffic? Because you can. How are they tracking conversions into sales at the physical cash register? Because you can. Sure, monitor your shopping cart sales, but I’ll wager that your online transactions are less than half the average order value of your in-store sales, and that the online buyers are less than half as loyal. It is essential that you sell the difference between you and the online pureplays, and that means selling more than just the jewelry.

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The tool I am referring to is CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management. Oh, you have that, you say? A feature of your POS or ERP system that tracks customer contact information, transactions, birthdays and anniversary dates? Yes, that’s called CRM, but I prefer to call it CRM 1.0. Over the past decade, CRM has changed a lot. I don’t know of any POS or ERP systems (and I work with dozens of them) that offer an integrated CRM that does what a modern CRM can do.

So, what should your CRM do for you? Wow – I could write several articles on this, but let’s just focus on how your CRM system can help you with clienteling. Here’s a short list:

  • Go beyond capturing an email address and sending an occasional email blast. Instead, turn every email subscription into a personalized, entertaining, enduring marketing outreach. Offer different marketing messages based on customer responses to each email they receive. You set goals — Store appointment? Zoom appointment? Purchase? — and use your automated marketing to gently nudge the customer to your goals.
  • Make it easy for customers to request instant video meetings or self-book a store or online appointment with you or anyone on your sales team.
  • Capture customer data across all channels: your website, social channels, personal email activity, marketing email activity. Follow what your customers like, respond to, and indicate interest in.
  • Understand customer buying patterns and behaviors, and use that to make more relevant and meaningful suggestions and more timely contact.
  • Facilitate individualized, personalized, one-to-one (yes, I am being redundant here to make a point) automated marketing campaigns.
  • Keep the thread of relationship alive throughout the customer’s lifecycle — even if they don’t step into the store or visit your website — so you don’t miss out on important sales opportunities.
  • Save products the customer is interested in and share via text or email with the click of a button – all of which is stored in their profile for future reference.
  • Make it easy for any salesperson or manager to pick up with the customer, knowing everything that has transpired already. Never drop the baton again.
  • Dramatically increase your sales efficiency and make it easy to market, engage, and sell from anywhere, using a tablet or mobile device.
  • Use automation tools to reduce rote tasks and data entry so you don’t have to waste customer or sales staff time on administrative things that don’t close sales.
  • Collect and analyze metrics about your customer behaviors and your team’s clienteling activities.
  • Use all these insights to help you train and develop your sales team.

There are dozens of CRM systems available, and each of them do slightly different things. Some of them, like Clientbook, only do clienteling, but do not do marketing automation. Others, like Keap, Hubspot, or Greenrope offer marketing automation and clienteling features. They can start as low as $99/month (Hubspot’s “free” version doesn’t count – it’s too limited). There is no such thing as a perfect software program, and all programs have pros and cons. The important thing is to select the one that works for your business and your budget, so carefully analyze what each system can do well and compare them to your business goals.

A CRM system can help you integrate and automate your business systems (POS, ERP), accounting, website, and social technologies to provide superbly personal retail customer service. And when you integrate it into your business practices and culture, a CRM turns your sales force into the ultimate customer loyalty program.

Andrea Hill is owner of Hill Management Group, with three brands serving the jewelry industry. Learn more at hill-management.com.

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