opinion

How to Excel at Clienteling in Your Retail Store

How to Excel at Clienteling in Your Retail Store

One of the most valuable things I learned in my past retail life at Nike was “the art of clienteling,” or how to keep client books to drive incremental sales dollars. Retail foot traffic is impossible to predict and relying solely on it for revenue can be stressful and create inconsistencies store-wide.

Clienteling is just a fancy way of describing the collection of data on good customers. It is a program that can easily be implemented and customized to fit your store and associates. Handing a salesperson a customer notebook and asking them to start clienteling right away is a bit unrealistic. The steps below will help outline a strategy for implementing a strong program in your store, one that can help sustain sales dollars and increase event revenue.

Seeing the results captured in your own personal client book can be rewarding, and it's also fun to decorate and use for documenting your progress.

Where to start? One of the goals is to create a program that sales associates want to use. Depending on your store budget, you could order client books that come with all the important sections: contact info, customer notes, calendar, sales goal sheets, and possibly monthly sales totals. You could also create client binders from common office supplies.

Some people may prefer a digital version, but handwritten has always been my favorite. Why? Because not everyone has access to store computers. Plus, you must invest in the cost of programs to manage your data, and it just does not have the same feel as a self-created client book.

Supplies checklist to get a great program going in your store: Binders or tabbed notebooks, Sharpies, multi-color pens, stickers, colored Post-It notes, multi-color highlighters, and any other fun office supplies you can find that will help associates feel good and encourage them to customize their books. Amazon, Etsy and Pinterest all have client book supplies that are very affordable, and you can pick and choose what inserts and forms work the best for you.

My biggest tip that I can pass on is: Work with your team members to create a book that works for them. Mandating forms to use can be self-defeating and destructive to the program before it begins. Have fun with it and make it colorful and unique. Most of all, set a good example as store leadership and make sure you also create your own client book. You may not be on the sales floor as much, but you need to set the example on how clienteling works and utilize the clients you do have as a manager or store leader.

Create a “Customer Info” page that can include shoppers’ contact info if they are willing to give it, as well as their shopping preferences. Maybe the customer really likes pink wands. That is an excellent note to keep in their Customer Information sheet for when you inevitably get that pink wand in. This could also help create a special-order situation and generate extra revenue. Also include a monthly calendar to help track work shifts, store events, brand promos or spiffs, etc. — anything to help organize everything that is going on in the store for the month.

So, how do these client books work? They are a safe space for documenting all your customer info once you get to know good customers or have specific customer requests. This hopefully will include their email and address, to which you can send thank you notes for larger purchases. It should also include notes you learn about the customer as you get to know them. Birthdays, color preferences, toy types, how or when they like to be contacted, anniversaries and any other dates they may mention during their shopping experience. Do not be afraid to let them know you would love to add them to your client book to keep in touch, to say thank you and also to keep them updated on upcoming store events they may be interested in. I also like to save a copy of each customer receipt in their customer notes section so I can look back over their purchases. When you have events, these client books can drive so many sales by ensuring your top and VIP clients attend. Making a call or sending a handwritten invitation is a great way to make your store stand out.

These client books can also be great for setting goals. It could be monthly sales goals, event goals, shift goals, spiffs, or sales awards. This is a great way to stay organized on how you are doing on each of these activities. Seeing the results captured in your own personal client book can be rewarding, and it's also fun to decorate and use for documenting your progress. Keep track of spiff dollars you are winning to help stay motivated and on track!

Store leadership, create fun store boards to help track the progress of your team members in driving business through their client books. Set up sales contests around client book revenue, and work with your distributors and manufacturers for prizes. Finally, create a space in your store for everyone to store their books, one that makes them easily accessible for each transaction.

A store’s client program is exactly what you make of it — what you put in, you get out. I have seen small stores create a lot of business through clienteling, I have seen stores in the middle of construction save themselves through client books, and I have seen booming stores keep their status due to VIP customers continually spending money. Let your client books work for you and drive sales in our already booming post-pandemic economy. Now is the time to capture all that client info!

Danielle Seerley, aka “America’s Sex Toy Sweetheart” (AmericasSexToySweetheart.com), is the senior sales executive for Shibari Wands and Voodoo Toys.

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