CRM in Retail

What does it mean and how should we do it?

If you are an Online only business, CRM or Customer Relationship Management, is all about ‘data’. They use data analytic engines to basically drive marketing. Sadly most of them are so obvious, that you don’t really need complex analytics to see the recommendations they make.

At the other end, their idea of CRM is having a call centre in India and taking customer calls remotely and facelessly. Or having chat boxes.

Well both of those might have something to do with the Customer, but neither of them comes close to ‘RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT’.

Relationship Management is a human attribute, it comes with aspects, like sympathy, empathy, service, human contact, a sense of caring, etc, etc.

If you have VIP customers who account for 40% of your revenue and 60% of your profit, then its ridiculous to think that data driven analytics comes close to the idea of Relationship Management.

OMNI-CHANNEL retailers have a unique advantage over their Online only competitors.

They have stores staffed with colleagues, who are based 15 mins from most of their customers.

HELLO! Is that not a unique opportunity to create a competitive advantage.

Sadly we are failing to do so. Mainly because of Central Merchandising, Retailers have for many years been paying store staff less and less, on the principle that if we ‘Merchandise Well’, the customer will come, and they will typically self-serve themselves.

In fact by 2000, the service in most retail stores was so appalling that customers voted with their feet and went Online. ‘Why go to a store where there is no service – I might as well self-serve myself online’.

Retailers had for years thought we need to get the ‘right stock to the right store at the right time’ so that we do not lose a sale. Instead the customers said, we dislike the service so much that we don’t mind waiting 2-3 days for the product to be delivered to us at home rather than visiting a store.

For OMNI-CHANNEL retailing to succeed, we need to start reversing the service decline in Stores.

That means we need to re-introduce CRM back in stores. We need to start making HUMAN CONTACT COUNT.

Many years ago in Retailing, store staff use to be excellent sales people. They all had little black books of their regular customers who they would call and engage with.

Well with mobile Apps, social media and internet communications, we are re-creating that world, but digitally.

Well CRM in retail is all about bringing that back. We have shown, that in an OMNI-CHANNEL world it becomes a real driver of sales growth.

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