CRM or Customer Relationship Management software has been around for a long time. From identifying sales opportunities to storing customer information, CRM systems have always played a pivotal role for enterprises in streamlining important operations in the areas of sales, marketing and customer services. The history of CRM dates back to the 1970s when the Farley File was designed to keep track of people whom the politicians had met.
But it wasn’t until 1997 when companies like IBM and Siebel enriched this potent technology with extended capabilities including marketing and shipping. However, owing to the limited resources of the computing technologies, owning a CRM became a costly affair. Then came the Y2K era, the era of rapid technological development and this is when the CRM became affordable and started penetrating other industries including the retail industry.
In 2004, SugarCRM introduced an open-source CRM system to the world and made it an accessible technological asset. By this time, the CRM systems were packed with extra features and could handle other tasks like sales and shipping management. Today, CRM software has become an integral part of retail IT solutions and is far more advanced than its predecessors.
The modern CRMs work as business intelligence systems as well as communication channels that not only make for better retail management but also improve the experience of the end users. This article illuminates the ways in which CRMs are taking retail management to a whole new level and attempt to help entrepreneurs make informed decisions about having one for their business.
A Quick Intro
A CRM system is a software that helps organizations manage information, interactions, and relationships with their customer and prospects. But figuratively, a CRM is a mix of technology, business operations. And processes that allow companies to find and keep their customers by establishing long-lasting relationships with them.
Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are two robust CRM tools that come with advanced mechanisms like analytics and marketing automation. Most modern CRMs are cloud-based and highly customizable too. This enables enterprises to structure the system according to their needs. The modern tools support mobile integration too which makes for easy accessibility and seamless connectivity with customers.
CRM and Retail Management
The retail industry has to deal with hundreds of customers per day. Be it a bookstore or a grocery store or an eCommerce site, the traffic is crucial to any retail outlet, both physical and virtual. But the growing competition on both fronts has made it increasingly difficult for owners to handle and manage customers among other things.
Owners have to look after store maintenance, get the latest products, acquire skilled manpower, pay the electricity bills. And on top of all that they have to ensure customer satisfaction with quick response, and impactful marketing, not to forget lead generation and maximize ROI. At times, it can become too intense and lead to frustration.
Thankfully, the CRMs can take care of the customer part. And with the right one, a retail owner will not only be able to reach out to their customers. But will also be able to streamline their sales tasks thereby allowing them to better utilization of resources along with cost optimization. In short, your retail management can become better, more efficient and result-driven. Let’s see how.
Sales Force Automation
Sales force automation is an important part of every competent CRM. Modern CRMs are integrated with sales force management systems that provide the facility to automatically record. All the phases of a sales process including sales training, and performance evaluation of sales representatives. An in-built contact management system helps to track the record of contacts. Which have been made with the customers and the necessary follow-ups as well.
This eliminates the need to manually monitor and enter the records for the same. The automated systems also ensure that sales actions are not duplicated thereby bringing down the risk of making repetitive calls to customers and avoiding annoying them. Effective field sales management allows sales representatives to focus more on customers.
Customer Segmentation and Personalization
A Mailchimp survey report of 2017 showed that segmented email marketing campaigns were more effective than the non-segmented counterparts. And that the segmented emails showed 14.3% more opens than the non-segmented ones. In short, segmentation plays a key role in designing effective marketing campaigns and CRMs help the retail industry with that.
Since the CRM serves as a storehouse for customer information. It becomes easy for retailers to put that information to good use. It helps them to put customers under different categories. Which is based on their profile, purchase history, most viewed items and so on. The segmentation helps them to target a specific set of customers with précised product pitching.
Tie the Loose Ends
By tying up loose ends we mean spotting the problem areas. And identifying communication gaps, and acting and improving products and services. Good thing is that CRM can help retailers with that too. One of the perks of modern CRM is that it is integrated with AI/ML algorithms. And has the capability to gather information from various sources. (including social media networking, web apps and mobile app usage) Through which retailers can get valuable insights on the performance of products and services.
This can help them detect any inconvenience caused to the customers through their services like customer support. Any unpleasant experience with products, product delivery, payment issues, exchange policy, etc. With a robust CRM, retailers can spot and address all these issues and increase customer satisfaction.
Improved Customer Service
A CRM might offer plenty of benefits to users but its primary objective is good customer service. The modern CRMs have notched up retail management with their enhanced features leading to improved customer services. For instance, the process of gathering customer feedback through forms. Then calling them to know and address their issues was an ordeal in itself.
Thanks to the modern CRM, retailers do not always have to address issues through calls. Through chatbots, messaging systems, or emailing facilities built right into the CRMs. Customer care representatives can establish immediate contact with the customers.
Another best part of having a CRM is that it is easy to establish communication between different teams. Sales, marketing, customer care – all the team members can perfectly communicate with each other and coordinate their tasks.
CRMs have become an integral part of retail IT solutions. Besides assisting with customer management, they can simplify the daily activities via automated operations. Which helps with field sales management and reporting, and can provide valuable marketing insights via analytics. Thereby resulting in better and more efficient retail management. It won’t be wrong to say that for retailers, a CRM has become a mandatory resource.