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What is Clienteling and Why it Matters in 2021

What is clienteling and why does it matter in 2021? For years, retailers have established meaningful customer relationships by using data-driven tools. Find out why it remains important during shop closures and COVID-19.

Clienteling has dominated the luxury retail space for many years. It is also becoming more relevant in today’s digital transformation. At Confer With, we uncover the burning questions and answer them here today.

This article will cover…

What is Clienteling? 

Clienteling seeks to establish meaningful relationships between the retailer and the customer. This is achieved by empowering sales associates with real-time data, based on the customer profile which include: 

  • Past purchases 
  • Needs 
  • Wants 
  • Interests 

Often achieved using an in-store app, the retailer can aim to offer a truly personalised experience to the customer.  

There’s also virtual clienteling too…

There is also a new and rising tool which is virtual clientelingCustomers relate more to a holistic approach to eCommerce and although data is key to making informed decisions, having a human speak to a human drives successes in virtual clienteling. The technology-led approach is allowing retailers to meet their customers across all types of digital touchpoints in meaningful ways too. Be sure to check out our article on 5 reasons why virtual clienteling is important.

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What is the Difference Between Customer Service and Clienteling? 

Clienteling and customer service share a common goal. To identify the needs of the customer and deliver a solution, resulting in a closed sale. In short, customer service can help achieve KPIs, push promotions and increase the average value basket. 

However, retailers utilising customer service as their only tool can encounter barriers. In 2019, Boston Retail Partners suggests 63% of retailers struggled to identify their customers before approaching the till. A further 20% were unable to identify them at all. 

And that is the key difference. Customer service relies heavily on face-value information. Whereas clienteling can equip sales associates with powerful knowledge to enhance the customer journey.

A smiling woman with phone in hand after experiencing clienteling

Here’s a Quick Example

Nordstrom, Wish Lists and Reserved Dressing Rooms 

The large American store chain, Nordstrom, delivered exceptional clienteling by investing in retail technology. For example, customers can use the retailer’s mobile app to create wish lists and reserve a dress fitting appointment; a clever way to banish frustrating queue times.  

This is a strong case of clienteling being a two-way relationship between the retailer and the customer. Nordstrom understands consumers preferences and needs. The consumer praises the effortless experience.

What are the Benefits of Clienteling and is it Relevant During COVID-19? 

This article has placed a big emphasis on in-store relations meaning it’s time to address the elephant in the room: COVID-19. Lockdowns have transformed the retail landscape witnessing temporary and sometimes permanent closures of non-essentials stores.  

Independent of COVID-19 clienteling has the following benefits for retailers: 

  1. Repeat business 
  1. More customers 
  1. Opportunities to upsell 
  1. Deliver a personalised and enhanced experience 

This model enabled businesses to focus on high-value customers who cost less to target and buy more. Using clienteling data, data collection can increase by up to 300% and retention rates by 200%.  

With store closures in 2021, is clienteling relevant? 

The answer is yes. 

According to a recent study by Vista Retail in November 2020, 81% of UK consumers suggested visiting a physical store is an essential part of their shopping experience. A further 70% enjoy the whole experience which encapsulates browsing, discovering new items and seeing alternatives.

Despite the public undergoing a massive shift in online spending due to COVID-19 restrictions, when shops do reopen, albeit, for short periods, they still depend on that human interaction. 

Which begs the question – how can your business achieve clienteling in 2021? Below are some examples. 

Clienteling Examples

Ralph Lauren and Virtual Appointments 

Clienteling has dominated the luxury retail landscape for years. They know what high-value customers want and how to deliver. Ralph Lauren is a prime example of adapting to the shift in buying behaviour. 

For instance, they offer virtual appointments and live stream selling, achieving exceptional results. Patrice Louvet, CEO of Ralph Lauren said: 

“virtual appointments have driven double the spend versus our average consumer transaction” 

A woman live video streaming with another excitable woman to enhance clienteling experience.

L’Oréal’s Tap and Try and Signature Faces 

The beauty industry has been hit hard by COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, up to 85% of beauty-product purchases were made instore. The market then saw around 30% of their stores being closed.  

Firstly, L’Oréal’s Tap and Try enables consumers to browse a number of beauty and care products on the website. Using AR technology, it can recommend products to which consumers can have a ‘virtual try-on’. Online ambassadors are available to help with choosing a product, enhancing the customer journey and empowering ambassadors with preferences and interests. 

Secondly, in November 2020, an additional feature was added, ‘Signature Faces’, which integrates with platforms like Snapchat and Zoom and allows users to select predefined filters, escaping the ‘just got out of bed look’.  

Those two examples demonstrate the mission to humanise the virtual shopping experience. Humans thrive on social interaction and this behaviour filters down to the shopping experience.

However, despite efforts utilising video streaming, it can still often lead to basket abandonment.   

Which begs the final question – how can your business utilise enhanced video commerce to create meaningful customer relationships?  

Clienteling and Live Video Shopping

Digital transformation to video has happened at lightning speed and even though there will be a bounce back to in-store shopping experiences, the virtual space is here to stay.  

Confer With allows a shared virtual basket between the expert and customer, meaning familiar human interactions like ‘let me take this to the till for you’ can be achieved. Similar to streaming, one-to-one or one-to-many service is made available too.  

However what ties clienteling and the enhanced customer journey is the option to suggest alternatives, accessories and promotions, whilst having access to real-time data including stock levels. 

An influx of traffic going to a website’s chatbot results in limited personalisation to actual customer needs, meaning unhappy customers.

Using Confer With can enable your business to schedule appointments, suiting the customer’s preferences and increasing transparency. 

Above all, it is a way to empower your experts with knowledge, control and job satisfaction.  

You can see benefits which appear in clienteling:

  1. Repeat business from remote customers 
  1. More customers who can’t make it into the store 
  1. Opportunities to upsell 
  1. Deliver a personalised and enhanced experience 

Bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and the virtual space is a way to tap into consumer demand and if 4 in 5 consumers prefer in-store experiences, video commerce is the way forward. 

A women video streaming a pair of shoes to a delighted customer. Showing how clienteling improves customer service.


Clienteling offers a personalised service between the retailer and the customer. Often happening instore using mobile apps, the pandemic has encouraged business owners to think outside the box and take it online.

In contrast, Confer With takes it one step further by integrating a seamless shared virtual basket experience; humanising the missed social interaction between the expert and consumer.  

Interested in finding out more? Try it out by using our free demo and get in touch with our friendly team today! 

Confer With

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