While clienteling is associated with luxury brands, its usage is increasing among more mainstream fashion labels, and being delivered by messaging platforms including WhatsApp and Viber.
The pandemic has hit every industry hard, and none more so than fashion. The sector has seen its customers moving online — hardly an environment conducive to selecting and buying clothes — sidestepping one-to-one personal interactions with store staff who are so vital to creating great customer experiences and building loyalty.
And that personal touch matters: 80% of self-classified 'frequent shoppers' will only shop with brands who personalize their experience, according to SmarterHQ. However, the 'new normal' has effectively shelved opportunities for any kind of meaningful personalization. To counteract this, a handful of forward-thinking fashion outlets are turning to digital clienteling, offering personalized, scalable conversations between online shopping assistants and customers via popular chat apps such as WhatsApp and Viber.
These messaging-driven conversations create opportunities for securing the fashion world's commercial future in three key areas: increased customer engagement, higher conversation rates, and improved operational efficiency. That might all sound grand in theory — but what is the 'new normal' for brands who have already made the transition?
What fusing clienteling with chat apps means in real world terms
Fashion brands should look to other sectors to gain insights into how chat apps can transform operations. For instance, tyntec client GlobeAir, the private jet charter, rolled out the WhatsApp Business API solution last year, offering clients a personal, secure channel to directly chat with customer agents about flight availability, booking, and payments. Bernhard Fragner, CEO of GlobeAir, points out: “The interaction is so quick and so informal [on WhatsApp], you actually develop even more trust and even more bonding with your customer."
The switch to WhatsApp has seen GlobeAir's clients enjoy 225% faster customer service while the company itself has experienced 27% more sales leads plus a 20% higher booking conversion rate. Best of all, WhatsApp's functionality has been fully integrated with existing company systems to boost operational efficiency (see below). For instance, GlobeAir's chat channel is incorporated with its Slack teams. This allows for fast, seamless collaboration between departments, negating the need to switch between platforms when processing a client's booking.
Meet the fashion brands already acing conversational clienteling
Away from such a literal high flyer, there are also several fashion brands pioneering in the conversational clienteling space:
WhatsApp has become the real-time comms channel for connecting the company's customers to its team of personal shoppers. Many high-ticket items are bought through the app — in one case, an item worth over £80,000 — and while the company continues to innovate using other channels, WhatsApp remains the go-to channel for its most engaged customers.
A fashion social commerce company, Threads' service allows potential customers to swipe up on its Instagram offers. This immediately connects them with a personal shopper via WhatsApp who takes the customer through a personalized selection, ordering, and purchasing process. This approach has seen the company enjoy a five-fold increase in conversion rates compared to its other e-commerce solutions.
Describing itself as 'Zara on steroids,' this Indonesian fashion seller has deployed WhatsApp to deliver better customer experiences by providing instant order confirmations, updates, and shipping information as well as answering typical customer questions. “The delivery rate, engagement, and ease of integration offered by WhatsApp Business can't be compared to other channels," says Sorabel.
From top to (e)tail: How conversational clienteling serves the entire customer journey
See this infographic to learn how fashion brands can deliver personalized customer experiences and generate revenue:
Why integrating conversational channels is key to a successful clienteling rollout
As the use case demonstrates, such powerful functionality can only be delivered by seamlessly integrating the messaging platform with existing commerce systems and data sources. Such a technical challenge can understandably pose some questions about how quickly the rollout can happen.
The answer? There are easy-to-integrate APIs available such as tyntec's Conversations API that bring popular messaging channels into a single access point. Furthermore the API allows brands to quickly integrate it with their existing clienteling systems and other related CRM and commerce systems. Alternatively, tyntec also offers no-code/low-code options that can be deployed out-of-the-box.
Whichever integration option is chosen, such versatility and support means fashion brands can create intimate, private, and informed online conversations with customers that were previously only available in-store.
Critically, adopting an integrated digital approach offers opportunities for deeper digital learning that can be used to target other customer segments. In turn, this will enable fashion brands to build up successful personalized relationships with all of its customer base, no matter where they are on their buying journey.