Clienteling: Redefining the future of the in-store customer brand experience

The customer journey is often looked at in rather stiff terms, as a chart moving from point to point in a sterile manner.

The customer journey is often looked at in rather stiff terms, as a chart moving from point to point in a sterile manner. But in reality, each individual customer journey actually tells an interesting story with stakes, goals, and ups and downs, hopefully resulting in a happy ever after for the loyal customer.

This is especially apparent when jumping in medias res to the most exciting central part of the story, the in-store experience with clienteling strategies.

Functioning as a tale of its own, the shopper’s quest to find what they’re seeking, and to walk out of a store with a smile, hangs in the balance. And, the hook this plot’s result largely hangs on, is the quality of the in-store customer experience.

In this Master Report, XGATE provides us with such a narrative of a shopper in a retail store and their hunt for an outfit. The twist being that the store staff have a clienteling portal on hand to facilitate the shopper’s experience, radically changing the story path at each step.

XGATE’s walkthrough demonstrates why it’s important to understand the implementation of new retail technology at the human level, and how it works in practice, rather than listing out a variety of functions. Only then can customer journeys be crafted in such a manner as to leave the shopper feeling like the brand is their hero.

Enabling the experience

Technology today is changing the very nature of relationships between brands and consumers. Marketers are constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency through automation and technology. Ultimately, every brand will develop its digital competency, which raises the question: “What sets you apart from your competitors?”

The answer lies in the connection between the customer experience and business profitability. Research from Temkin Group reports that a moderate improvement in the customer experience will impact the revenue of a typical US$1 billion company to an average of $775 million over three years.

Instead of discussing the customer experience in general, this article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of using clienteling as a retailing tool to recreate an exceptional in-store brand experience. Specifically, clienteling will enable your sales associates to deliver the kind of personalised customer experiences that consumers still crave.

To understand the concept of clienteling, imagine having a clienteling portal on an iPad and putting it in the hands of a sales associate to empower them with customer data to create a personalised in-store shopping experience.

Life of Patrick

Meet Patrick Lee, a store manager for an apparel brand.

Patrick starts his day accessing his clienteling portal to search for a list of VIP customers whom he had not been in contact for a while. He called and invited them to a special VIP promotion.

Michael Wong, a VIP on the list, was contacted and was interested to drop by for the VIP promotion.

At the store, Michael was greeted by Patrick with a friendly: “Welcome sir, you’re here for our VIP promotion? Do you have our member e-card?” Michael showed the e-card from his Apple Wallet. Patrick scanned the QR code using the clienteling portal and pulled out his profile details.

Instantaneously, on the clienteling portal, Patrick obtained a 360-view of Michael across channels, including order history, profile, and wish list.

Patrick said: “Mr Wong, we have several new arrivals and we do have them in your sizes for most of the pieces. Let me show you at the men’s section.”

Michael delightedly browsed the items and began trying them on. Eventually, he picked two jackets, three white shirts, and two pairs of jeans before asking Patrick to confirm the sizes again.

Patrick answered: “Mr Wong, you’re size 48 jacket, size 15 for the shirt and 33-inch waist for your jeans. Let me see what we have in stock.”

Minutes later, Patrick returned with the grey and black jackets, and the shirts: two in white and one in blue. But there was an issue.

Patrick explained: “Mr Wong, we have your size for the jackets and the two white shirts. However, for the third white shirt, I am sorry, but we actually only have that style of cut in your size, 15, in a baby blue.”

Patrick displayed an image on the clienteling portal of a co-ordinated brown jacket with the baby blue shirt.

Patrick said: “Mr Wong, I recommend the blue shirt because it matches well with the brown jacket you bought previously.”

Michael liked the matching outfit. Then he asked for one size larger for the denim jeans. Patrick checked the stocks on the portal and informed Michael that they had no stock for the 34-inch waist.

“Our new stocks arrive next week. I can see you’ve marked those jeans on your wish list on our online store. You must love denim,” Patrick said, adding: “Mr Wong, should I wrap up the jackets and shirts for you? Would you also want the blue shirt as well? You look charming in that.”

Michael replied yes to the baby blue shirt. He then signed on the iPad to pay for the items and informed Patrick to contact him when the jeans arrived.

An email receipt was sent to Michael for his records, and Patrick used the clienteling portal to set a reminder to contact Michael when the stock was in.

A week later, Patrick got an alert from the clienteling portal that the size 34-inch jeans were in-store and called Michael to arrange an appointment time to pick them up.

Michael arrived at the store and showed his VIP member e-card. Patrick used the clienteling portal to scan the QR code and pull out the order’s details.

Patrick said: “Welcome back Mr Wong. Do you want to try on the jeans once more?”

Michael tried them on and proceeded to pay by signing on the iPad. Patrick bid Michael farewell as he left the store: a satisfied customer with two new pairs of jeans.

Later that week, Michael used his social messaging app to text Patrick and thank him for the great customer service.

Patrick received the message on his clienteling portal and set a reminder to send a personalised birthday message to Michael in December.

Moral of the story

Clienteling strategies have ignited the magic of personalised retailing to enhance the in-store brand experience and customer loyalty. At XGATE, we believe such capabilities are possible with advances in CRM and loyalty marketing, integrating data across multiple systems, including CRM, loyalty,

POS, order management, eCommerce, and communication channels – mobile technology, and omni-channel services.

Ultimately, three essential factors – customer insights, personalisation and fulfilment – will drive the success for clienteling by offering a unique brand experience at different touch-points of a customer’s shopping journey.

Businesses looking to develop their own clienteling portal should consider the different functions (as illustrated in the graphic diagram) required by sales associates to deliver customer experiences distinctly crafted for a brand.

Empowering our sales associates with well-developed clienteling tools to target segments, create personalised services, and offer seamless fulfilment for shoppers will soon be the norm for retail marketing. This necessity allows brands to make technology feel more human and blend it with the most meaningful aspects of the customer experience. That’s the new future.

XGATE x CX Conference 2019

This September, XGATE participated in an insightful knowledge exchange session with over 150 senior marketers at the Customer Experience conference 2019 – Hong Kong.

This September, XGATE participated in an insightful knowledge exchange session with over 150 senior marketers at the Customer Experience conference 2019 – Hong Kong.

Some key points discussed included the importance for brands to create exceptional customer experiences based on their shopping journey. Making sense of complex data collected to understand consumer buying motivation or even predictive behaviours. The session provided a platform for CRM marketers to share case studies, discuss technical challenges and compare digital strategies.

Influencer Marketing | Effective KOL Marketing Strategy to Grow Business

No matter what business you are working for, Digital Marketing is essential for standing out from competitors in your field.

No matter what business you are working for, Digital Marketing is essential for standing out from competitors in your field. Especially in the era of Smartphones, capturing attention from ‘Smombies’ (Smartphone Zombies) has become the first step to success. Digital Platforms have become battlefields of marketers, no matter Social Networks like Facebook, Instagram, or Composite Messaging and Social Platforms like WeChat.

Brands can certainly buy ad spaces, (e.g. Ads on Facebook Timeline, WeChat Moments) directly from service providers to exp ose hard-sell content. On one hand, audience might be cautious in perceiving promotional messages. More importantly, repetitive exposure with the same hard-selling content might lead to advertisement fatigue. As a result, target audiences might not be inculcated with desired promotional messages and target business growth cannot be met.

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), a.k.a. Influencers, generate content themed with specific issues. They can hence attract fans with common habits or characteristics. This makes them one of the favorite choices of marketers recently. Subject matters and Writing Styles of KOLs are usually synchronized among posts and makes content binge-worthy and attract ive.

Basic Rule to Choose an Appropriate KOL

The key to absorb advantages from KOLs is to keep their genuine writing style. Yet, KOLs are numberless as sand. Not to mention you have to choose appropriate ones for different platforms. How can you choose an appropriate KOL to manipulate your budget more efficient? The following rules might inspire you!

1. Reliable Member Base

Number of fans would be one of the indicators. Yet, it cannot reflect the engagement of readers. Not to mention the influence of fake-fans. Thus, you should also refer to the engagement indicators reading, sharing and comment counts, which reflect more on the actual social influence of them.

2. Match with your product type

Your target audience might search information before taking the move. Comments from a product-relevant KOL might directly affect his/her purchasing decision. Hence, promoting or inviting them to comment on your product can be an effective way to inculcate your product message to the audience who have higher purchasing intention.

3. Match with Demographics of your Target Customers

Different brands might have their own target audience with different targeted customer demographics. Finding an appropriate KOL to reach similar audience can nurture purchase intention of more potential customers!

4. Match with your Brand Image

Writing Style and subject matters are crucial in construct KOL’s image. You should also consider if their images suit your brand image and core values.

5. Genuine Content

KOLs with genuine content possess strong person style, which means they have got a strong persuasive power. Indeed, some KOLs or WeChat Public Accounts in China do share content from other sources. This information might be still useful for some followers. Yet, they do not possess the same power in calling forth their audiences to take purchasing moves.

Case Study, the world’s largest online beauty store, has been expanding their business aggressively in Asia. In one of our partnership projects, we were tasked to launch a campaign in Taiwan to grow StrawberryNet’s brand awareness and business.

We developed a brand strategy focusing on visibility and availability. To execute our strategy, we collaborated with Mini Tsai (a.k.a. DouHuaMei) and Candy Yang as the KOLs to promote the brand via their Facebook Pages.

The young and healthy KOLs are famous in Taiwan and possess genuine fan base. Plus, they are frequent users of cosmetic products which makes their recommendations more convincing. This brings positive impacts to the brand focusing on young female market.

We formulated a 3-step approach for our KOL strategy – Shop, Talk & Makeover. First, Mini and Candy would share their tips on make-ups followed by navigating the online store to order their favourite products on Second, they posted on their Facebook pages what they bought and shared how simple and quick products are delivered. Third, they shared video posts of their makeover session with a famous make-up artist. Confidence on buying cosmetic products on can thus be boosted.
We also set up designated landing page for each KOL to invite their fans to order cosmetic products using a unique promotional code that gave fans free delivery, free gifts and extra discount. Through sales conversion, the efficiency of the campaign and marketing ROI can be accurately measured.

The performance of the collaboration was excellent. The 3-month campaign has successfully brought additional 10% increase in sales revenue. Number of repeat buyers soared by 19%. Indeed, this KOL marketing campaign was awarded by Marketing Magazine with 2018 GOLD WINNER Asia Best Social Media Ecommerce Campaign, as well as 2018 SILVER WINNER, Best Use of Social Media.

Three Key Ingredients to a Successful Omni-Channel Retail Strategy

In today’s digital world, consumers no longer need to make a trip to the physical store to research products, browse or even buy. The informed customers are now driving the retail agenda.

In today’s digital world, consumers no longer need to make a trip to the physical store to research products, browse or even buy. The informed customers are now driving the retail agenda.

This phenomenon is a result of rising mobile technologies and social media adoption that allowed consumers to redefine how they want to engage brands, anytime, anywhere. Our online and offline experience will converge and brands need to adopt omni-channel strategy to advance their digital marketing practice. To achieve this goal, it depends on the sophistication level of your system integration, data management and campaign orchestration. Nevertheless, there are three important ingredients necessary to create your own omni-channel customer experience.

omni channel strategy

1. Design Your Omni-channel Buying Experience

Fulfilment for omni-channel marketing primarily aims to create an integrated buying experience. Whatever membership scheme (eg. tiers, points or hybrid) used, be sure to provide seamless experience for members to enjoy the benefits in online and offline channels. For instance, points earned should also be redeemable across online channels (like eShop app or Tmall) and retail stores.

A well-designed omni-channel buying experience can be a valuable tactic for prospect acquisition. Consider a lead who gave a positive comment on social media has just visited your website to browse the same product. This insights allow marketing automation engine to trigger an offer to entice him to complete his purchase decision. If the offer is not used after one week, an expiry reminder can be triggered allowing him to buy online and pick up the item at the retail store. When customers made purchases at retail store, new member welcome email can be automatically sent to ask for feedback about their shopping experience. Alternatively, customers may also share opinions to friends on social media. With this insight, we can auto-trigger an offer for their friends as referral campaign. In short, leverage on the data collected from different touchpoints to design your omni-channel experience that will lead to better customer loyalty and business profitability.

2. Create a 360 Customer View and Turn your data to Dialogue Opportunities

To build a successful omni-channel strategy, it is imperative to get all your data in one place. Connecting different sets of data like profile, online clicks, retail POS, social behaviours and eCommerce channels so that you can build seamless, personal, customer experiences across platforms and devices. In the process of choosing your solution, be sure to involve key stakeholders (IT, Sales, Marketing, Support etc.) in the organisation. You want to ensure requirements are carefully assessed to prepare the company with a future-proof architecture that will meet long term business goals.

3. Applying Layers of Business Intelligence logic to create your Customer Segments

With the data sources connected and mapped to create a single customer view, brands can begin to build valuable insights by segmenting the customer base for targeted marketing campaigns. One segmentation approach is using Recency, Frequency & Monetary (RFM) analysis to cluster customers into segments with different values and attributes. Similarly, you can also segment your customer base using the loyalty tiers of your CRM program to build data insights and design new touchpoints for enhancing customer experience. The ability to combine customer data to derive business intelligence will be fundamental in empowering all your omni-channel fulfilment and personalization strategies.

The resulting improvements of omni-channel experience ultimately come from a holistic view of customers made possible with data integration and delivered through solutions such as CRM & loyalty management, marketing automation and business intelligence. Ultimately, brands need to take an omni-channel approach towards planning fulfilment and personalisation strategies aided by technology to deliver an integrated experience that will achieve business goals.

The Four Building Blocks to Marketing Automation

While CRM and marketing automation have a lot to offer on their own, integrating the two systems provide companies with a powerful suite of tools that are essential for sales and marketing to gain competitive edge dramatically.

While CRM and marketing automation have a lot to offer on their own, integrating the two systems provide companies with a powerful suite of tools that are essential for sales and marketing to gain competitive edge dramatically.

With so many news in the last two years talking about how marketing automation will change the world drastically (in a digital marketing aspect), it is probably no longer news today since the phenomenon has already taken effect with automation software generating US$3.64 billion worldwide in 2014 according to MarketsandMarkets research; and projected to reach US$5.5 billion by 2019. It’s easy to see why CRM marketing automation is popular. Essentially, it enables brand managers to attract new leads, convert leads to customers, and build loyalty with better business results. Technically, this implies a tight integration of CRM system with marketing automation platform to allow transfer of lead information seamlessly between marketing and sales, and ensuring the right messages are delivered at the right time based on data insights. Ultimately, better alignment across organizational functions (such as customer care, marketing and sales) will improve the effectiveness of CRM marketing.

However, like any marketing tool, you need to know how to use it effectively. To build stronger customer relationship with personalized messages, targeting customers at the right time and place using the right communication channel is not a simple task. You’ll need a step approach starting with Unified Customer Data, Segmentation Filter, Customer Lifecycle and Marketing Automation to deliver digital marketing precision.

1. Unified Customer Data

Building a centralized customer database is a foundational element of the marketing technology stack. Many brands still struggle to connect the data-dots between systems. Only when the data are integrated to provide meaningful information, then can CRM managers build a consistent understanding of customers’ past events, behavior or preference for better targeting and personalization of future interactions. Essentially, joining CRM, transactional, behavioral and social data in a single environment would require strong technical capabilities and integration of systems to support marketing needs for customer insights.

2. Segmentation Filter

Having a powerful filter to connect the unified customer data and create smart customer segments based on cross-data analysis is essential for brands to deal with the constantly changing digital consumers. By applying different filtering criteria based on specific rules, you can create dynamic segments that can align with the right marketing actions.

3. Customer Lifecycle

Mapping the customer segments to a lifecycle process allows you to clearly design the right CRM marketing campaigns to target your customer segments effectively. The following diagram shows how different segments are mapped to a customer lifecycle approach. At each stage of the lifecycle, different marketing programs or plays will then be implemented with the aim to evolve the target segment from one phase to the next.

4. Marketing Automation

Seemingly simple task like uploading CRM data into email marketing platform, personalized the message before launching a campaign can be challenging in many ways. Many marketers still do this manually today. Increasingly, they also need better ways to qualify leads / customers for selling / up-selling opportunities, run programs across multiple channels, personalizing communication messages based on behavior and tracking campaign performances real-time. To tackle these complex challenges, companies turn to marketing automation to simplify their workflows and make their teams more effective. With marketing automation, you can easily design multichannel campaigns with time, rules and events based trigger. By targeting your digital campaigns at the right person, at the right time, you improve campaign response rate, thereby leading to better customer experience and business profitability.

Five practical ways to improve your email marketing performance

Research has shown that the biggest challenge for marketers is the deliverability rate for email marketing campaigns. While it is important to maintain your reputation as a sender in order to get your email delivered.

Research has shown that the biggest challenge for marketers is the deliverability rate for email marketing campaigns. While it is important to maintain your reputation as a sender in order to get your email delivered, there are other good practices in email marketing that you can adopt to increase email response rate and improve your digital marketing performances. 

1. Improve Email Deliverability

  • Perform email client testing to avoid spam filters
  • Always ask for permission to be included in mailing lists
  • Build a permission based list using web forms
  • Remove hard bounces and request inactive customers to unsubscribe from mailing list
  • At XGATE, our technical team monitors IP reputation, routes good traffic around blocked IPs, and manages bounce logs from spam filters and email servers.

2. Use Responsive Email Design

  • Improve email marketing performance as responsive design can adapt to different devices, download faster and offers better user experience
  • 61 percent of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience (Smart Insights, 2014)
  • Use our email designer tool to create your email layout with built-in photo & text editor or simply contact our design team to do it for instantly

3. Design Email Campaign With Automation

  • Email can be triggered based on rules, alarms or events. For instance, you can design a promotional email campaign to automatically resend a reminder email 10 days before the actual offer expires. Trigger an SMS confirmation or mobile coupon when a customer subscribed to an email offer
  • One of the most important reasons for email marketing campaign to have automation is the responsiveness to customer needs. They are timely and highly targeted
  • Through campaign design and automation, auto-triggered email can reach as high as 47% open rate (XGATE Insights, July 2018)

4. Track Email Performance

  • Know who and how many people open your email on desktop or mobile
  • Track which offer did they click or download onto their devices
  • Monitor using unique code to see whether they make a redemption
  • Track the conversion rate at different stages of your Leads to Sales cycle

5. Target Customers Using Data Insights

  • Use of customer data such as language, age, gender, birth date, and location to personalize marketing messages
  • Use of transactional data to create new offers for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
  • Message personalization can increase open rate by almost 14% (XGATE Insights, July 2018)
  • At XGATE, we provide CRM data and transactional analysis using our statistical software to produce reports with insights for your marketing decisions and improve business results

XGATE Takes Gold At AOTY 2018 For Second Year Running

At Marketing Magazine’s Agency of the Year 2018, XGATE for the second year running has won Gold and Local Hero for CRM & Loyalty Agency Award; and Silver for Direct Marketing Agency Award.

At Marketing Magazine’s Agency of the Year 2018, XGATE for the second year running has won Gold and Local Hero for CRM & Loyalty Agency Award; and Silver for Direct Marketing Agency Award.

The awards, judged by a panel of marketing professionals from CSL Mobile, Hong Kong Tourism Board, KFC and Lane Crawford to name a few, demonstrate XGATE’s excellence for strategy, innovation and execution in CRM digital marketing.

“We are thrilled to win gold for the second year running. The awards serve as a prestigious honour to recognise XGATE among the best in the CRM and loyalty marketing industry. Importantly, the company is grateful to have a team of exceptional talents committed to support every one of our clients succeed in their digital transformation journey,” said Xen Chia, Strategic Marketing Director of XGATE.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, brands are seeking for more advanced personalization and automation solutions to improve customer loyalty. The ability to track marketing performance using data insights and adjust your digital strategy promptly are critical to stay ahead of your business. XGATE understands those needs and build them into the Digital Marketing Services (DMS) platform to help brands achieve the idealistic outcome. Our platform capabilities continue to grow from strength to strength and our expansion into Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai and Singapore is viewed as a long term strategic investment to establish our leadership in CRM & loyalty marketing for this region.

CRM Metrics For Continuous Business Improvement

The industry has come a long way since social media started making waves in the marketing world, and while many maintain – with good reason – that social media is a valuable tool in the box.

The industry has come a long way since social media started making waves in the marketing world, and while many maintain – with good reason – that social media is a valuable tool in the box, many have come to realise it’s not the be-all and end-all of modern marketing.

Instead, marketers are starting to look beyond what insiders are calling “vanity metrics” – metrics that make you feel great about your work, but that don’t actually contribute meaningful data about the success (or lack thereof) of a campaign.

Additionally, with the proliferation of e-commerce, an online presence and omnichannel marketing, marketers are swimming in data.

So much data, in fact, that many marketers have no clue where to even begin dissecting and analysing the wealth of information they have hoarded from different touch-points, nor any clue how to consolidate and unify the data.

Ninety two per cent of marketers agree that data management is an integral part of their business, but a staggering 40% of marketers admit to not having the right expertise or knowhow to make sense of the data they have, let alone how to automate it, according to the 2017 data-driven marketing report by Jaywing, and only one in fi ve are using advanced attribution models to measure marketing effectiveness.

It’s a classic case of being unable to see the forest through the trees.

This Master Report will dig into how to turn your information into insights; how to turn your data swamp into a gold mine; and how to make your CRM work for you, rather than the other way around.

XGATE Score Big at TopDigital Awards 2018, Shanghai China

XGATE was presented with the prestigious Innovation Keywords in WeChat Marketing Automation Award at TopDigital Awards 2018 event held in Shanghai.

XGATE was presented with the prestigious Innovation 100 – Innovation Case Award at TopDigital Awards 2018 event held in Shanghai.

Winners are selected by a panel of judges comprising professionals from academic institutions, veteran media, founders of international brands and digital marketing experts. This award recognized XGATE’s contribution in ideas, insights, innovation towards digital marketing practice in China.

“WeChat Marketing Automation is a big step for brands to target their customers at a one to one personalised level and we are enthusiastic to bring more innovative solutions to improve CRM marketing using different social media platforms in China,” said Coy Qiu, GM of XGATE in China.

XGATE is pleased to announce the opening of a new office in Chengdu, as part of a corporate strategy to increase its presence in the China market. Strategically located at New Century Global Center, the world’s largest building in the central China city of Chengdu, the new office will bring together a dedicated team of highly trained technical experts, sales and marketing professionals to meet the growing demand of digital marketing services in South West China. “Chengdu has an extremely strong talent pool with some of the best universities located in this region. The opening of our new office will provide new jobs and career opportunities for graduates and professionals based here,” said Coy Qiu, GM of XGATE in Chengdu.

One key factor for XGATE winning this award involves bringing XGATE Digital Marketing Services (DMS) platform and CRM marketing experience to help brands transform their business. We implement WeChat marketing strategy that can be measured with clear metrics to calculate business ROI. “Our clients welcome the fresh approach and experience we bring to the table beyond the already mature market of social media and eCommerce in China,” Qiu added.

XGATE Scores a hat-trick at Agency Of The Year 2017

XGATE walked away with three awards at the Agency of the Year Awards 2017 night. Winning gold for CRM & Loyalty Agency of the Year, Silver for Direct Marketing Agency Of The Year and Local Hero Awards 2017.

XGATE walked away with three awards at the Agency of the Year Awards 2017 night. Winning gold for CRM & Loyalty Agency of the Year, Silver for Direct Marketing Agency Of The Year and Local Hero Awards 2017.

The list of judges includes senior marketing professionals from leading consumer brands and industry experts. The awards recognized XGATE’s contribution in terms of ideas, insights and innovation towards the digital marketing practice. Winning the Gold and Local Hero further reinforce XGATE’s leadership position in Hong Kong market.

“We feel very honored to be recognized in Hong Kong digital marketing industry and we want to express our gratitude towards our clients who trust and support us all these years. Winning this award also would not have been possible without the inspiration and dedication of our colleagues working tirelessly to ensure the company delivers the best technical solutions and services to our clients,” says Patrick Tam, XGATE Director of Strategy.

The qualities that brought XGATE to where it is today are the same values the company instill at work. They are called PRIDE which stands for Professionalism, Respect, Innovation, Dedication and Excellence. In a digital era where brands are spending more budget on digital marketing year on year, marketers continuously seek more innovative ways to improve their bottom line. Central to the needs of modern marketers, XGATE has been developing their Digital Marketing Services (DMS) platform to deliver multichannel services (SMS, Email, Web & Social), marketing automation and data analytics. “We believe predictive analytics and using AI for business intelligence will be a key milestone in the advancement of marketing technology industry and I am confident that our company is ready to help brand managers achieve that,” says Tam.