May 19, 2020

Why clienteling is no longer a luxury

Customer Experience
Manhattan Associates
Henry Seroux
3 min
Why clienteling is no longer a luxury

Advancements in digital commerce have taken the idea of personalized customer experiences and expanded it well beyond the domain of luxury brands. This is especially true online where tailored product recommendations, promotional emails, retargeted ads and location-based mobile notifications are the norm. But in the typical brick-and-mortar store— the place where personalised selling began—digital personalization has yet to expand beyond high-touch, luxury retailers.

That’s now changing.

What is clienteling?

Clienteling solutions improve in-store personalization by making a broad array of customer information and customer-focused capabilities available to the store associate. Clienteling benefits from interoperability with an enterprise order management system to provide real-time access to customer transactions, network inventory and full lifecycle fulfilment. Retailers with high-service experiences are headed toward associate enablement vs. self-service; Thus the interest in assisted selling and clienteling.

  1. MYTH ONE - “It’s too expensive to implement.”

The popularization of mPOS solutions has opened the door to arming store associates in a wider variety of retail categories with affordable mobile devices. A few years ago, clienteling solutions were often sold as standalone modules that required separate software procurement processes, separate integration and separate hardware. That has now changed. A recent survey found that 69 percent of all retailers plan to invest in mPOS technologies by 2018. Meanwhile, a handful of mPOS vendors now offer solutions that are fully integrated with clienteling and order management systems. Therefore, the cost of implementing mPOS is now likely not that different from the cost of implementing mPOS and clienteling together.

  1. MYTH TWO - “Customers don’t want it.”

Early clienteling technology was defined by purpose-built applications for the needs of luxury retail customers who make high-value purchases and have high service demands. As a result, technology-driven clienteling experiences were only exposed to a limited subset of consumers. Because digital commerce has now normalised the idea of personalized shopping among consumers, non-luxury stores are increasingly seen as lagging behind shopper expectations with regard to service and convenience.

Today, consumers expect associates to know their past purchases and preferences, they expect recommendations based on their purchase/browsing history and therefore expectequipped store associates to be able to engage, inform and transact with the customer anywhere on the store floor. In sight of this, consumers are then more likely to recommend or pay more for a brand that provides a personalised service or experience.

  1. MYTH THREE - “Personalization doesn’t fit our brand.”

Because one digital personalization is the product of automation and sophisticated algorithms, the idea of bringing clienteling capabilities to your stores may seem unintuitive and inconsistent with your brand at first blush. However, recent advancements in clienteling technology now allow for select capabilities to be adopted by a greater variety of retail categories. By taking a closer look at what subset of clienteling capabilities make the most sense for a brand, nearly any retailer can leverage the technology to drive larger purchases, higher customer retention and more frequent visits. Further, clienteling capabilities offer a more consistent experience with what nearly any retailer’s e-commerce site already offers.

Henri Seroux, SVP EMEA at Manhattan Associates


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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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