The fact that retail is no longer just about product is not a secret, that it is all about engagement is not a surprise, that customers expect a unified experience is natural; but how retailers should pivot and aggregate all this data into one view remains a mystery and keeps many small and mid sized operators up at night. This has created a pressure on businesses to revisit their online strategies even those whose primary focus is their local market.
“It’s like watching an accident in slow motion, you know you got to do something but the question is what and how and for how much”
There are many sources of data to consider but let’s focus on a few simple yet meaningful places to start with. Before we get started, let’s talk a little bit about tracking or customer preferences; while no doubt most consumers do not want their every activity tracked and stored, they do not mind doing so if they can receive something of benefit and the data is stored securely. Think about how willingly we allow the cell providers to track our every movement so long as they know exactly where we are when we need directions.
To begin aggregating this data you need to start with a reliable CRM software. Ideally this is will be built into your POS application as that will solve the instore piece of it, assuming that it has the functionality of a CRM software.
In Store POS Activity
In Store POS sales activity is the easiest and simplest to do; does your POS provide robust segmentation so you can classify your products into departments and categories, as well as flexibility in creating item attributes (in apparel for example size, color, style, season, brand) and does it provide you with flexibility in creating customer groupings across all channels, so you can group customers based on initial channel of the relationship or other groupings. Remember that there has to be some benefit for a customer to provide you this detail and loyalty programs are the most common, however perhaps more effective has been club pricing (like in grocery stores) or access to premium experiences (like with airlines or hotels). As you design this pick the one that works best for you.
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Other benefits can be more lenient refund policy to know customers or a more restrictive return policy to anonymous transactions.
Getting your store online with insight to up to date product availability will provide you with a trove of data; encouraging customer to quickly register and login to get special pricing also rewards and encourages customers for sharing their data with you.
Customer expect to connect with their favorite retailers on their terms; when they are available and from the devices of their choice. As a result retailers are experiencing a lot of pressure to deploy online stores; unfortunately too many do this as a reactionary move and not part of a strategic move.
It is commonplace for customers to go to sites and get real time access to products and their availabilities from any device. Just think about the increase in “some product” stores near me searches in Google. Does your store appear with images that accurately represent the product and the quantities; as inventory is added or depleted from your POS system is your online store reflecting it. Does your Retail CRM aggregate customer and transactional data no matter where it happens? Does it make it available to online and offline stores easily.
Sounds complicated but it’s not, in fact any POS, Cart and CRM solution that you are using should be able to do this as a matter of fact, without much work on your end.
Forecasting and Purchasing
It’s true that most small and mid-sized operators are not doing future planning beyond the next order; however your retail CRM should be able to generate reports based on classification and attributes to not just determine what to buy buy for whom to buy it for.
In retailcloud for example our Grow and Pro users can filter product to 3 classifications and 5 attributes to determine with a fair amount of accuracy who is likely to buy new product; or to include a discount modeling to see who is likely to buy overstocked product. Your retail crm should help you minimize your investment in inventory at a product level which should free up investment in complementary inventory to increase units per transactions. Having a CRM that just stores the data is pointless, how can you utilize the crm to create personalized offers to customers, and to plan stock levels to meet your customer needs.
Retail CRM is a must have for retailers today, it does more than just give you a historical perspective of your transactional data; it should establish the relationships between the variables that affect sales and revenue; such as product mix, availability, trends etc.
Ideally it should provide tools to drive revenue growth, such as identifying tailored upsell opportunities or other methods to increase units per transaction, while helping identifying ideal product mix using overstocked and understocked algorithms.
Most crucially it should serve you all the information in a clear easy to digest and use manner , so all your operators have to do is act.