By now most of us are aware that personalization is a retail trend that's here to stay. Promotions and loyalty programs aside, there many thoughtful ways you can harness the data you collect in your retail CRM to personalize your customers' experiences – both while they are in-store and through your marketing efforts. The reality is, this is the new normal. Today's competitive landscape and data-centric world has raised the overall expectations and to thrive, retailers must rise to the challenge.
Customer relationship marketing implies that you are invested in your customer and are willing to put the time and effort into building a long-term, personalized relationship. There's no doubt that this takes both time and a commitment to tailor your marketing, customer service and sales process accordingly.
First a bit on the Personalization Trend.
Personalization has a couple of dimensions to it, namely overall store experience, customer service experience and marketing experience. When these three work in tandem you're golden, you become top of mind for customers. They will find that engaging with your brand is exciting and worth the effort. Often one of these three pillars is missing.
Store experience. No longer is it adequate just to provide a clean, well-lit, merchandised and beautifully designed store. Today it's easier than ever to provide a top notch environment - it's become almost ubiquitous in small to mid-size retail businesses. Customers are now looking for experiences that rise above the ordinary. Take the cosmetics retailer that offers free makeovers anytime or the bookstore that invites you to a special event with an author you love.
Customer service experience. Again, just having a person ring you up in a timely and friendly manner is the low end of the spectrum. The norm is becoming sales associates who are consultants or customer service agents empowered with data to serve their customers on-the-fly with a mobile POS device. This includes access to inventory across locations (including ecommerce), the ability to see a customer's orders across channels and access to CRM data that includes as many touch points the customer has with a brand as possible.
Marketing experience. Mass emails are out, personalized communications are in. Whether that be a promotion, event or informational email, the best retail marketers create their marketing experiences based upon a customer's individual preferences, prior purchases and shopping habits. Don't assume all customers are equal, instead make each communication targeted and relevant. Did your customer buy a beautiful silk scarf last month? Why not tailor a communication targeted at all customers who bought a scarf in the past 3 months. Send them an email that links to a video tutorial sharing 10 ways to tie their scarf along with pictures of the new shipment of scarves that just arrived.
Check out our report on Apparel Stores called "Personalization and the Customer Experience".
POS software and retail CRM functionality.
Here's where the rubber meets the road. In order to provide a personalized experience, you need a robust CRM for retail tool that is flexible, customizable and easy to use. You need to determine what data you want to collect, set up your POS and Retail Management software accordingly and train your staff to incorporate collecting this data into their sales process. Not only that, if your POS system has customizable reporting, you can create reports on-the-fly that help you improve the customer experience from staffing correctly during peak hours to ensuring stock on hand meets customer demand to creating lists of customers who purchased a particular book. The key;
- a robust, customizable CRM built in to your POS software
- custom field set-up that dovetails with your overall customer relationship management strategy
- sales process training to ensure diligent data collection
- use of a cloud-based mobile POS so sales has immediate real-time access anywhere in the store
Harness the data you collect.
First a quick note. Asking people for personal data like their birthday or favorite color can be tricky even for experienced sales people. However, if done with tact and incorporated into the sales process you will tend to find that customers don't mind giving up some data provided they get a tailored, personalized and valuable experience in exchange.
1. Decide on what custom CRM fields you'll create and strategize on how you might use that data. Here are some ideas:
- Ask for birthday month - send a personalized email with a special promotion
- Ask for favorite color - send them an email with new arrivals in their favorite hue
- Ask for their favorite brands - invite them to a trunk show
- Create a wishlist for them in the notes field
2. Remember to check a customer's sales history while they are in-store so you can make smart recommendations
3. Pull custom reports to asses trends and customer preferences and create events and marketing promotions that are targeted towards groups of customers.
You get the picture. Now that you're actively collecting data, the fun part begins. You can mix and match it in creative ways to enhance store, customer and marketing experience.
The benefits in a nutshell.
Happy customers who keep coming back and become evangelists which translates into more sales. And, a more productive and profitable retail business that will thrive!
To learn more about harnessing your POS data to boost customer acquisition and retention, download our free CRM Report!