To reach customers where they live, so to speak, traditional retailers should take a peek at what their pure-play e-commerce brethren are doing – incorporating analytics into their CRM (customer relationship management) strategies to ensure profitable relationships with their customers.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, big data analytics solutions are not just “nice-to-have” – they’re absolutely critical to the success of their CRM operations, according to an article in Direct Marketing News.
“CRM at tier-one retailers has not been about managing the customer relationship, it has been about offers,” says Bob Hetu, research director for retail at Gartner Inc. “They have to get beyond their prejudices, one channel over another. What paths to purchase customers take doesn’t matter. You have [to] support them in whatever way they choose to shop with you.”
The problem is these retailers really can’t rely on their CRM vendors for help because they don’t have all the answers when it comes to retail analytics, either, according to the “CRM Vendor Landscape Report” written, in part, by Hetu.
“Traditional CRM vendors tend not to be strong in the analytics aspect,” Hetu tells Directing Marketing News. “Other players are very strong in analytics and real-time marketing, but not so much in the way of CRM and campaign management.”
That means retailers have to lead the charge when it comes to customer analytics.
Here are three steps Hetu says traditional retailers can take to improve their CRM systems and their relationships with their customers:
1. Bulk Up the Analytics. Retailers should use analytics to determine customers’ buying habits, where they research various products and which customers are more profitable. Then they can use that information to pay special attention to their best customers and target them with special offers, while continuing to use regular push marketing for customers that are not as profitable.
“This is the critical foundation of the CRM program,” Hetu says. “How many segments do I have and what moves the needle for them? What behaviors are indicative of a customer that can grow with you?”
2. Real Time is the Right Time. More customers than ever are responding to real-time offers. After retailers identify their best customers – using analytics, of course – they should ensure those consumers download their apps and/or join their loyalty programs. Once they know the products their customers typically purchase, retailers can use Wi-Fi technology to know when their top customers are in their stores then push out real-time offers to them.
3. Self-Service Rewards Programs. Retailers should enable the members of their loyalty programs to service their own accounts via their mobile devices or the Internet.
“[Consumers] want to be able to track and manage their points across all the channels they shop in,” Hetu notes.
An added benefit – enhanced behavioral data grist for the analytics mill.