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  • Writer's pictureKatie Tame

Enjoy of the Journey: The Power of Emotive Experiences in the Luxury Retail Sector

The human element and its emotional impact are often overlooked within retail. Within the luxury sector, however, there is increasingly high demand for it to be ingrained into the journey - with a purpose that extends far beyond the transaction and the product. Indeed, consumers are seeking an experience that encompasses the relationship they have with a retailer, spanning the association with the brand, the prestige behind it, the sense of exclusivity, service and more. Creating and maintaining this journey can be made simple, easy and accessible with clienteling. Providing consumers with the ultimate high-end experience will ultimately lead to transforming them into loyal brand advocates, with whom you have built strong relationships - an essential part of the retail cycle. 

 

In the luxury retail industry, clienteling strategies vary as widely as the array of brands available. A fundamental component of building an effective clienteling approach encompasses cultivating genuine, enduring relationships, crafting tailored shopping experiences across online and physical spheres, and providing a flawless, unforgettable service that resonates with the individual values, tastes, and aspirations of shoppers.

 

Establishing meaning and emotion in luxury retail and injecting the human element is key, a point established in conversation with McKinsey senior partner Anita Balchandanias, and Scott Malkin. Malkin, founder and chairman of Value Retail, emphasizes the enduring significance of the physical shopping experience and the infusion of emotion into each transaction.Value Retail's shopping centers, known as the Bicester Collection, stand as testaments to their philosophy, boasting some of the highest sales per square foot globally. These destinations, including iconic locations like Bicester Village near London and La Vallée Village near Paris, are meticulously curated to cater to the discerning tastes of the cosmopolitan luxury consumer.

 

Malkin highlights his viewpoint by stating “it’s about defending the soul of the experience … and creating joy for our guests.” As he underscores, the significance in infusing emotion into every interaction within retail spaces. Making a difference to your clients can be done in many ways, but ultimately hinges on sales teams and their ability to build relationships, personalize and tailor each experience and collect data. Clienteling is often lauded as sales teams best tactic to drive growth, and requires a proactive and engaging strategy that intersects the preferences of each customer. As outlined by Malkin, clienteling is a tool that “everyone in fashion recognizes and desires but doesn’t typically execute, because it’s extremely difficult to do.” Having an accessible and efficient clienteling platform can streamline the process and work to empower sales teams, opposed to creating more challenges. Each aspect of clienteling factors into creating a significant and memorable journey for the consumer, ensuring long term growth and success when applied correctly. Emotion, after all, is often the basis of decision making.

 

Authentic and Sustainable Relationships:

 

At the heart of clienteling lies the relationships. Retail success is synonymous with interaction and communication, and how you choose to develop and pursue those connections can have a monumental impact on customer experience. Striving for long-term relationships with your consumers will lead to long-term growth. Effective clienteling should result in your clients feeling recognised and understood, and ultimately cared for by the brand.

 

Building a Bespoke Journey:

 

If relationships form the foundations of brand strategy and clienteling, then developing a personalized and unique experience for each customer is the next stage. Sales teams who can create a memorable experience will not only cement their relationships with their clients, but will establish a strong rapport and a sense of trust that is essential to creating a loyal and invested following. If a sales associate is able to remember a preference, important date or special occasion, they have already allowed their customers to feel recognized, and their needs and desires understood, perhaps before the customer even realizes them. Communication, and its preferred method, is deeply personal and too can be adjusted to meet the needs of the individual. Malkin agrees, noting that ‘there has to be an omnichannel, all-embracing vision of distribution’, that meets each client in a unique way. Proactive outreach and a tailored experience both deepen relationships and ensure the retail journey is all encompassing.


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Data Insights:

 

Gathering data and information about your customers furthers your ability to establish a memorable experience. Within the luxury retail sector, where those key relationships are a fundamental part of clienteling, data is crucial to personalisation. Having a large consumer base can make it challenging to craft experiences for the individual, but if sales teams engage in proactive data collection with the help of clienteling platforms, the process becomes streamlined and scalable. With these key insights, knowing and connecting with all your customers is achievable.

 

Effective Clienteling with BSPK

 

Clienteling has seen a transformation in recent years, with the emergence of new technologies brought forth in a digitalised society. These advancements have transformed the way we live, interact and shop - but as this online presence grows, so does the value behind human interaction. Malkin underlines the symbiotic relationship between physical and digital realms, recognizing the role of technology in enhancing, rather than replacing, the physical retail experience. He discusses innovative initiatives, such as utilizing iPads to offer full-price collections in-store and integrating customer data to personalize interactions.

 

Malkin notes that “high-quality online shopping is about speed, quick delivery, and limited friction. It’s everything but the part that involves the soul and the human emotions.” This is where clienteling solutions like BSPK come in. Clienteling in the modern era of luxury retail witnesses the convergence of consumer data, personalization, omnichannel communication and relationships built on memorable experiences. Brands that invest in and leverage BSPK harness the ability to revolutionize the luxury retail experience from all outlooks. With the rise of technology comes the rise in expectations, and today’s consumers are, as Malkin notes,  “well informed and should never be underestimated.” Building loyalty with a plethora of alluring competitors is increasingly challenging, and brands and sales teams need to invest in clienteling to reframe transactional moments as treasured memories.


BSPK Clienteling application

 

Using an effective and well-developed clienteling solution will give sales teams a 360-degree view on their consumers. BSPK empowers sales associates to elevate their clienteling strategy and establish significant moments and memories for each customer. Having an integratable resource that can connect you directly with your customers whilst providing important insights is what really allows you to get to know each client at every touch point. A seamless and bespoke retail journey is often what distinguishes luxury brands, and being able to recognize and connect with your customers across every touch point underscores this value. Whether they are in-store or online, BSPK elevates each interaction to help craft these value driven experiences.

 

Sales Teams:

 

Empowering your sales team to provide the best possible luxury experience requires investment, in both technology and training. Offering constructive training provides agency for sales associates to create luxury experiences. Being able to effectively harness the tools they have whilst maintaining the importance of a human touch is the key to strengthening customer relations and brand advocacy.

Hence, operating in a luxury arena requires skills that are constantly being honed and evaluated. Having a comprehensive grasp on the platforms you are using and a nuanced understanding of product knowledge forms the basics of building a client base.

 

A comprehensive view of the consumer journey allows sales associates to approach each experience from their customers perspective. It is the soft skills such as empathy, compassion and emotional intelligence - which are not just important, but required - that make a luxury experience. These skills invoke the human element into retail, and are key to creating emotional connections with your customers. Malkin highlights that the fashion industry captures ‘extraordinary creativity and capacity for reinvention drive everything we do’ and it is with this approach that sales teams can reassess their emotional connection with their clients. Creative solutions and close attention to detail can be the defining feature in a shoppers memory, sometimes more so than product. Malkin reaffirms this important approach for sales associates with the need for “agility” and “resilience,” ... those are the natural definition of entrepreneurial or responsive behavior.” Malkin challenges the notion of retail solely as a transactional exchange, advocating for the preservation of brand identity and the elevation of the shopping journey to a transformative experience. He even goes to emphasize the role of music and sensory engagement in creating immersive environments that resonate with customers on a deeper level.

 

All aspects of clienteling require continuous and ongoing focus that recognizes that as consumer needs evolve, so must the approach of the sales team. Malkin agrees with the notion, stating that “unreasonable hospitality starts, of course, with facing inward”. Central to Malkin's vision is the concept of "unreasonable hospitality," a commitment to exceeding expectations and creating memorable experiences for guests. From personalized concierge services to curated visual merchandising, every aspect of the shopping environment is crafted to evoke emotion and foster connection.

 

The retail environment offers a myriad of opportunities for growth and review. Shoppers are human, thus the connections we make with them must resonate in a personal, emotive way. Elevating the experience with the right retail technology is ultimately investing in your sales team’s success. As Malkin outlines, the purpose behind luxury retail has ‘always been to find ways that add value for those brands’. This underscores the fundamental idea that expansion takes work and time, and often a creative human-driven methodology. Clienteling platforms like BSPK are poised at the epicenter of this strategy, providing an all-in-one tool to revolutionize retail without diminishing the power of the human touch.

 

Building a Brand Experience:

 

The luxury retail market demands an experience that is both believable and compelling. Malkin re-emphasises this point, stating luxury retailers stand as the “great “carriage trade” … —the grands magasins' ' and should “strive, every year, to do better”. Sales teams who can craft this approach into a seamless journey will be at the cornerstone of success, and can mark a call to action for uncertain customers, essentially working to develop motivation and trust in purchasing. A positive brand experience isn’t enough - sales associates need to create memories and value behind each interaction and establish relevance for consumers.

 

The most successful luxury retail brands will harness the power of emotional experience and connection to make their consumers' retail journey more memorable, easier to share and will elicit the desire to return. Sales teams who utilize the benefits of clienteling platforms will be able to build layers of experience, memories and stories that ultimately flourish into unshakable relationships. Malkin outlines this with a final point that “organizations always need to be raising the bar, so that guarantees difference. Technology is constantly evolving—that guarantees difference.” All this rotates around the brands ability to create a sense of belonging for each client. Clienteling is, according to Malkin, “about defending the soul of the experience and the human qualities of experience.” At BSPK, our innovation is rooted in technology and our commitment to people, as we meet dynamic industry needs, recognizing the importance of understanding why and how consumers seek seamless shopping experiences across all channels and interactions.


Listen to BSPK's podcadst Clienteling Unveiled here:



The key for sales associates lies not only in understanding the products themselves, but also in the understanding of customer behavior and the vitality of real relationships. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, Malkin remains steadfast in his commitment to innovation and reinvention. While the future may be uncertain, one thing is clear: the enduring appeal of emotion-driven retail experiences will continue to shape the industry, with BSPK at the forefront of this transformative journey.


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