INVENTORY

Five Ways Big Data is Changing CRM for Retailers

BY CSA STAFF

By Connor Marsden, U.S. Lead for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

The Retail industry is in the midst of unprecedented change, with multiple innovations in technology transforming the way business is conducted. Retail companies that are unable to keep pace will face diminished prospects for growth. But for those companies that can successfully navigate this changing landscape, there is enormous potential and the opportunity to create a sustainable competitive advantage within their business.

Many of these changes result from the emergence of the “Big Data” phenomenon — the ability to gather and analyze every piece of data from every customer to spot preferences and affinities that allow the retailer to sell smarter, anticipating the consumer’s next request. Accumulating from many sources and expressed in a number of channels, Big Data is responsible for the generation of five key Customer Relationship Management (CRM) trends that retailers must recognize and manage if they expect to remain competitive:

1. Omni-channel contacts. Consumers expect to be able to interact with retailers day or night from any location. Due to the growth of smartphones, consumers have access to large amounts of data right at their fingertips. Retailers need to ensure their CRM technology keeps them in contact with customers on any platform, meeting their expectations. They also need to be prepared to stay in touch with customers by phone, email, website self-service, real-time online chat, moderated product-centered online communities, and social media (Twitter, Facebook), all supported and accessed through smartphones and tablet computers.

2. Mobile devices. Consumers have become increasingly comfortable using their smartphone or tablet to browse retailer offerings, looking for discounts and comparing products whether they are on the go or on the couch. As consumers investigate, select, pay for, and take possession of their purchases, they typically use more than one “channel” to make a single purchase decision. The mobile channel is a powerful tool in providing content and community opinions to consumers while making their purchase decisions, even when they are in the store. Increasingly, in-store consumers know more than the sales staff about the store’s products, price points and competing offers. Therefore, retailers need to address the pressing need to help empower their employees to be at least as knowledgeable as consumers are about products, price, and availability. As retailers struggle to meet the demands of increasingly smarter shoppers, they are weighing the benefits of making a host of changes to the store and the role of the store associate. These changes include increasing education and training and adding technology tools like CRM to level the playing field. This is important because more informed store associates can influence a shoppers buying decisions.

3. Social Networks. Today’s retailers have recognized the need to integrate social networks into their CRM strategy. The wealth of information about consumer shopping behavior in social networks is currently untapped gold for many retailers. By using the right analytics tools within CRM technology, retailers can effectively mine this data to gain insights into what consumers want to buy and channel these insights into more effective merchandising plans. Conversely, retailers can leverage social networks to build relationships and influence what and how consumers buy.

4. Personalization. Personalizing the individual shopping experience has been complex and difficult to execute well. With today’s personalization CRM technologies, research shows that recommendation tools and omni-channel personalization positively drive key metrics including revenue, conversion, average transaction value, and time-on-site. Personalization makes it possible for retailers to measure and reward the behaviors of shoppers in a way that drives loyalty, builds trust, and enforces brand differentiation.

5. Gamification. Increasingly businesses are discovering that framing their marketing and customer relationship efforts in the form of online games — quizzes, sweepstakes, hunts and other entertaining ways to engage — keeps customers coming back to their websites and their stores. Gamification capitalizes on the individual’s natural competitive nature and can reward players with points, levels, achievement badges or virtual currency, any of which can be converted to discounts on the retailer’s products or entries in a drawing to win valuable prizes. At the same time, consumers entering these competitions provide the retailer with their email address and progressively more data that can be used to further personalize the retailer’s relationship with them.

With CRM technology that is both comprehensive and flexible, retailers can rely on this technology to turn insight into action, ultimately driving sales. From reducing the cost of dealing with customer issues to automating business processes that bolster customer satisfaction and loyalty, CRM technology is a key component of creating advocates out of customers who appreciate the retailer’s insight into the shopping experience they expect


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P&G appointment latest brand building move at Chobani

BY CSA STAFF

Greek Yogurt leader Chobani hired 18-year Procter & Gamble finance executive Dipak Golechha to serve at its CFO reporting to founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya.

Golechha replaces former Chobani CFO James McConeghy who stepped down in November, the company said. His successor Golechha spent the past 18 years in finance roles at P&G including CFO of the company’s global snacks division.

"Dipak’s vast leadership and management experience, combined with our shared vision for Chobani, will support our continued growth and our future plans for expansion," said Ulukaya said. “Dipak joins a strong leadership team and will play a critical role in ensuring Chobani maintains the financial strength and flexibility it needs to build on our momentum as we prepare for an even stronger year ahead."

Golechha is the latest of several executive appointments in recent months including the appointment of David Denholm as COO and Peter McGuinness as chief marketing and brand officer. Chobani also recently announced some additional key appointments in core areas such as Andreas Sokollek, who brings more than 24 years of operations excellence and project management experience as SVP of supply chain and operations and in October the company named Alejandro Mazzotta as vp of global quality, food safety and regulatory affairs.

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Logistics leader names new finance exec

BY CSA STAFF

Third party logistics provider Transplace named veteran finance executive Tony Cossentino as its new CFO reporting to CEO Tom Sanderson.

Cossentino replaces Steve Crowther, who joined Transplace in 2007 and helped guide the company through management-led private equity deals with CI Capital Partners and Greenbriar Equity Group, as well as strategic acquisitions of SCO Logistics, Torus Freight Systems and partnership with Celtic International.

“Steve was instrumental in building Transplace into a strong, stable company that is well positioned for continued growth. He created a solid foundation for Tony to bring in his deep experience and knowledge to help Transplace continue to grow and be successful both now and into the future,” said John Anderson, Transplace chairman and advisory director for Greenbriar.

According to Transplace CEO Sanderson, Cossentino’s well-established reputation for strategic planning and his broad experience with global accounting, finance and business operations make him an ideal fit for the growing organization.

“As part of our continued growth and advancement, it is important to have dynamic leaders who are able to direct and cultivate our internal financial planning and business strategy,” Sanderson said. “Tony brings the extensive experience and vision that Transplace needs as we continue to grow and expand our business.”

Cossentino is a CPA who has worked with both publicly-traded and private equity backed companies and served as CFO at AmeriCold Logistics, Arnold Logistics, and most recently, Environmental Logistics Services.

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