Insights

Tech Guest Viewpoint: Optimize CRM with Omnichannel Approach

Now more than ever, today’s consumers want to be treated as individuals rather than a market. No matter which channel is used to interact with brands, some level of personalization is expected. Whether it’s online, mobile or in a brick-and-mortar store, customers want a shopping experience tailored to their specific needs and preferences.

With so many online commerce options, it’s getting easier to compare prices and order items straight to the doorstep, but many still prefer shopping in a physical store. What will truly set a retailer apart is its ability to offer an exceptional in-store experience that builds seamlessly off of its existing online platforms. Customer loyalty will grow as consistency across all channels works to serve individuals wherever they choose to shop.

Business is no longer campaign-centric, but customer-centric. You’ve probably heard the buzzword a few too many times, but “clienteling” really does point us in the right direction. It’s all about building customer loyalty and optimizing relationships for increased spending. So how do retailers help their clients feel valued and unique? Here are three effective strategies.

1. Sell them online.
Rather than using the old method of trying to fulfill pre-defined offers by blasting a broad audience, online sales are all about reaching specific target groups with personalized promotions. Take advantage of online tools to focus on one-to-one marketing via web and social media. The principle behind this “real-time retail” approach is to offer unique, timely deals that make sense for individuals. Today’s customers expect retailers to meet them where they are – and more often than not, that’s online or walking by your store

2. Serve them in-store.
When customers arrive at a store’s physical location, it’s vital for retailers to recognize they don’t exist in a bubble. People will continue to research items and compare prices online even as they browse the store. Many shoppers treat stores as a showroom: a place to experience products in person before checking online for the best deals. Others might take the opposite approach of using the store as a fulfillment center where they pick up products they previously ordered online.

Stores should learn to embrace the progression of technology by providing seamless integration between online and offline channels. Empower your customers and empower your associates! By offering the best prices across both channels and providing convenient options for pickup or delivery, retailers can lock in more sales and garner the trust of their customers.

Empowering your associates to enable them to engage with your customer right where they need it might just be what your customer is looking for by coming to the store. Every shopper has his or her own preferences and habits, so retailers should find ways to meet those needs by providing tailored customer service.

3. Seal the deal.
Of course, retailers will eventually have to convert customer relationships to actual business. In-store, this means making sales effortless with efficient customer-facing technology. Associates equipped with mobile smart technology can not only engage and help customers anywhere in the store but also offer a simplified and convenient check out option. Ideally, the interface should be consistent with online channels for an intuitive, integrative experience for both the associate and the customer.

Stores should also cement long-term customer relationships with a comprehensive loyalty program. By offering exclusive deals that are perfectly personalized for its clients, retailers can help shoppers feel unique and valued.

Customer expectations are evolving rapidly, therefore it’s time for retailers to adapt along with them to meet their needs. By setting aside the campaign mindset and focusing instead on serving individuals, stores will be able to offer exceptional customer service consistent across all channels. With this seamless omnichannel approach, customers are sure to return.



Don Briffett is manager and software specialist at Wincor Nixdorf.

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FINANCE

Books-A-Million OKs $21 million buyout

BY Marianne Wilson

Birmingham, Ala. — In a deal that may take it private again, Books-A-Million Inc. has given its OK to a buyout deal from the family of its original owners.

The chain reached an agreement to be acquired by a newly organized entity owned by the Anderson Family, which includes Books-A-Million executive chairman Clyde B. Anderson, for $21 million, or $3.25 a share in cash. (According to the most recent SEC filing, the Anderson family already owns 58.2% of the company).

In January 2015, the Anderson family made a smaller offer that was rejected.

The Anderson family started the company, which currently operates 255 stores, in 1917.

“We believe the transaction is a positive result for everyone, most importantly the company’s shareholders,” said Anderson. “The Special Committee and its advisors have done a thorough job to assure that all terms and conditions are arms’ length, and we are pleased to have come to a fair and balanced agreement.”

The deal is subject to shareholder approval.

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REAL ESTATE

Online beauty retailer Birchbox delving deeper into offline

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Online beauty subscription retailer Birchbox is plunging deeper into brick-and-mortar retailing — and it is seeking customer input to help guide its decision.

The company, approaching its five-year anniversary in September, said expanding its offline footprint is a strategic priority for the next phase of the business. With one physical store (opened in 2014, in Manhattan), Birchbox plans to open two additional permanent stores in 2016, including the first dedicated Birchbox Man location. It also has entered into a retail partnership with Gap to test summer beauty shops in select Gap stores, and is opening pop-ups in three U.S. cities, transforming two shipping containers (one for women, one for men) into full-service beauty and grooming shops that it will take on the road in August.

In an unusual twist, Birchbox is letting customers help decide the locations of both the pop-ups and permanent locations. The company is launching a voting campaign whereby customers can enter their ZIP code to submit a vote and help decide the locations of the summer pop-ups. The locations of the two permanent stores will be influenced by the performance of the shops in each city.

"We're obsessed with our subscribers and they're constantly asking for Birchbox to come to their cities, so we're listening and letting them guide the next phase of our offline retail strategy," said Katia Beauchamp, cofounder and CEO of Birchbox. "Our offline customers have a higher lifetime value with us online, so for us, this isn't just another cute pop-up –it's a serious step towards further retail expansion and a way for us to test the waters in new markets."

Customers can visit www.birchbox.com/roadtrip and vote for their city from today through July 17. They must be logged into their Birchbox account to vote and are limited to one vote per day. Those who share their votes on social media will receive 50 extra Birchbox points (equivalent to $5) to use when they spend $35 in the shop.

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