Tapping CRM for custom experience

Retail and customer relations marketing are closer than ever, thanks, in part, to technological advances, the ubiquity of retail loyalty programs and the burgeoning power of consumers.

Just last month, Sears appointed Louis Ramery SVP of customer relationship management for the company’s Sears and Kmart stores. In another push to join CRM with retail, Loyalty Lab partnered with Harte-Hanks to expand CRM capabilities for both companies’ retail clients.

Retailers, trying to get or maintain a foothold in an increasingly crowded market, have shifted focus to building relationships with consumers.

“Harte-Hanks has seen a tremendous uptake in interest and loyalty from a retail perspective this year,” said Wendy Lynes, retail vertical practice leader at Harte-Hanks. “We have a very large base of retail customers, and the percent of customers not talking to us about loyalty is very small right now.”

Retailers have been collecting customer data for some time but, Lynes said, the data hasn’t been used to its full potential until recently. With the new focus on the customer, personalization and individual service are keys for retail success.

“This data has been collected for a while — loyalty programs are not new,” said Alexi Sarnevitz, senior director of retail strategy for SAS Global Retail Practice. “What technology is allowing you to do now is personalize the marketing and the shopping experience.”

Data mining is used to look at different customer segments. It shows what customers are buying and what offers they are responding to.

  Advances in technology have not only improved knowledge of the consumer, they’ve also provided new ways to make contact. With consumers connected to Internet, mobile and traditional media, retailers must create a cohesive message across all channels and then send that message through the media each consumer prefers.

“It used to be discrete channels with cross-channel customers in 2004,” explained Sarnevitz. “Today, retail is a single channel with multiple interaction points.”

Once a retailer figures out how to interact with the customer, it is essential to then figure out how the customer will react. Traditionally, retailers would launch a campaign and then measure results but, Lynes pointed out, “We’re seeing a big push in the retail marketplace to develop predictive models.

Retailers are hedging their bets now by using advanced CRM technologies to create a 360-degree view of the consumer. By knowing who the customer is, how he or she shops and what he or she wants, a retailer is better able to woo the modern consumer.


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