Posts tagged CRM Tools
In a column for the July 2010 issue of STORES, I wrote about a dual challenge facing retailers post-recession: the need to extend their capabilities while improving efficiencies to control costs.
A third and equally important requirement is customer centricity: the proactive alignment of your offering and operations with consumer trends in general and your customers’ preferences and needs in particular.
To achieve the former, you must consider the macro economic, social and technology factors driving change in your markets. Satisfying the latter means gaining and leveraging knowledge of the people you actually do business with to meet their expectations on personalized terms.
Properly executed, customer-centric strategies can transform service into engagement, information into excitement, satisfaction into inspiration and otherwise passive shoppers into ambassadors for your brand. This may sound like a tall order, but four key enablers will help you fulfill it: cross-channel integration, mobile POS, assortment planning and advanced CRM.
Unify channels to boost sales
No matter where or when customers access your business — and no matter how many channels you have — they expect to be dealing with one enterprise. Impediments caused by siloed policies, systems or inventories will no longer be tolerated, especially when your competitors are so close at hand.
Integrated cross-channel solutions meet this challenge by enabling seamless shopping across all channels. They permit products to be researched and purchased online, then picked up in stores; and they can locate and order products quickly from the best possible location, enterprise-wide. This expands customers’ options while preventing frustrations and delays. For the retailer, it prevents stock-outs from becoming walk-outs or click-aways, streamlines order management and strengthens the brand.
In-store mobile solutions deliver comparable benefits. By allowing your associates to deliver inventory and product information, CRM, transaction services and a range of other functionality while the customer is engaged, handhelds increase productivity, efficiency, satisfaction and sales. Fully equipped, they can eliminate second stops at a central POS. The very presence of handhelds in your store — with associates trained to use them — makes a dramatic statement about your commitment to providing an outstanding customer experience.
Make your merchandise make sense
Another expectation common to most shoppers is the ability to find a fresh selection of relevant merchandise, in-store and online. This is where merchandise and assortment planning solutions truly shine by allowing you to establish ideal merchandise profiles for each market and class of store, and to keep pace with ever-shortened seasons, cycles and trends.
This complex process can only be managed through automation, both for merchandise planning at the chain and store levels across all channels of operation, and for assortment planning, which should leverage visual tools linked to your merchandising data to help you build and view offerings in step with your financials.
Few retailers can compete without using CRM tools to better understand and engage their customers as distinctive groups and individuals. By analyzing customer data and transaction histories, marketers can segment the client base in detail for more effective, targeted promotions; associates can engage customers more personally and professionally to enrich the shopping experience; and customers themselves can benefit from compelling incentives and rewards.
The payoffs can be huge. We know of a national specialty retailer that recently undertook deep-dive customer analyses based on dozens of criteria. Using revised segments, they developed a campaign to re-engage inactive customers that tripled their return on investment relative to previous efforts, as well as a new model for reaching top-tier shoppers that generated their highest campaign returns in years.
Fulfill your brand promise
In today’s economy, your customers’ expectations have been elevated to a higher level than ever before, and meeting those expectations is more critical to your success than ever before. To hit the mark, virtually all of your operations must be planned, developed and executed with your customers in mind. In doing so, you will deliver a retail experience that will consistently delight your customers, distinguish you from your competitors and strengthen your foundation for long-term growth.