CRM strategy in the retail sector? It is almost unnecessary to underline how the moment in which we are all immersed is difficult, but also decisive. The pandemic triggered by the spread of COVID-19 has had an enormous impact globally and locally on all sectors; retail is certainly no exception.
In fact, we’re talking about one of the most affected industries and one that most needs to reinvent itself.
So, what to do?
First, you must not stand still, stuck in fear or discouragement. This is the biggest mistake. But it is not the only one. The other big mistake is to repeat the dynamics of the past by doing what you’ve always done.
Reality has changed; in some respects even drastically. But there is more than just the crisis, as dramatic as it has been. This complicated period has brought new opportunities, new occasions to the fore, and these all have to do, in one way or another, with Digital Transformation.
For the retail world in particular, we have summarized these possibilities into three themes: Proximity, reservation, and personalization.
Now it’s time to move on to the second area, that of reservations.
Let’s say it now: this is not just a necessity that helps us save time and safeguards the health of individuals and the community. In the reservation process, there are many opportunities to be exploited for improving loyalty and the dialog with customers.
These opportunities are mainly concerned with enterprise CRM systems and cloud CRM systems in particular. We’ll look at each of these in this post.
Reservations: A necessity
Reserving a table in a restaurant was a common habit long before the pandemic, certainly. While this used to be done over the telephone, increasingly, it’s something that is done digitally, using dedicated apps and in an increasingly rapid and customizable way.
The same can be said for hotels and everything related to Travel & Tourism (here, the use of dedicated platforms was already widely used).
Then, the first possibilities of booking a whole series of other services in advance appeared, making it possible to avoid waiting in line (think, for example, of the possibilities offered by Poste Italiane, with its app).
In short, all of this was already “normal” even before the pandemic. And it was becoming more and more so.
The difference, however, is that, compared to what was convenient and optional “yesterday,” today, certain actions have almost become a necessity.
It’s no longer just about convenience and saving time; today it’s about health itself, but also about increasingly stringent regulations (from the maximum number of visitors to a museum, to the maximum number of patrons at a restaurant table, just two of many real-world examples that we have all witnessed).
We’ve already said it above, though: it’s about looking ahead. It’s about not limiting ourselves to necessity or enforcement.
Above all, it’s about leveraging the new opportunities offered by the reservation function linked to enterprise retail CRM strategy. And that’s what we want to focus on now.
Beyond needs and obligations: The opportunities of reservations
We’re confident that digital reservations will be a trend that won’t end with the end of the emergency. People are getting used to it, and they will be pushing retailers more and more in this direction. For a very simple reason: Because, above all else, it’s useful and convenient.
So, here’s the first advantage for retailers: This allows them to give the public what it expects while improving loyalty and – at the same time – its reputation and attractiveness. But this is only the first aspect and the tip of the iceberg. There is a much wider world of opportunity underneath that is completely digital. And they all start with something very simple: data.
If you use intelligent and customizable systems, the touchpoint of the reservation becomes a valuable point for collecting information about your customers: Who are they? Where do they live? How old are they? What are their buying habits? How do they change over time? What are their preferences, more generally? And so on.
With this information in hand, the retailer has a very detailed “snapshot” of its customer base. And it can break it down into increasingly precise segments in order to put targeted marketing operations on track.
Above all, however, it also has the possibility of getting to know individuals and of starting a true one-to-one digital dialog, aiming at personalization. Warning: when it comes to Customer Care strategies, none are more effective than this one!
Addressing individuals in a targeted and differentiated manner is the true path to loyalty.
But that’s not all.
Retailers can establish upselling and cross-selling initiatives right at the moment of reservation. Once again, not by aiming at a general target but by harnessing the power of data. This allows them to build offers and promotions that are tailored to the individual.
The effectiveness of this type of operation is enormous (and we’ll come back to it in the final article of this series, the one on personalization).
There are specialized companies such as Doxee that deal precisely with personalization with solutions such as Doxee Pvideo personalized videos. This allows companies to communicate with their customers in a digital, interactive, and one-to-one way, using the power of the video tool. Then there are Doxee Pweb personalized micro-sites, which maximize conversions, offering customers browsing experiences designed based on their tastes and needs.
All of this, however, is built from solid, high-performance, customizable cloud CRM systems.
It all starts with a good cloud-based enterprise CRM strategy
Let’s start this last section with a key data point, which concerns the present.
According to a study by Gartner, by 2021, CRM technology will be the main item of expenditure for everything related to enterprise software (source).
So this data tells us something very clear: CRM strategy, today more than ever, is at the heart of customer value marketing. It’s the starting point for establishing a close, active and highly loyal relationship with one’s customers; consequently, it’s the first step in winning new customers.
But what does a good corporate CRM system do?
First of all, CRM software records the contact information of customers: From the simple email address, to the phone number, up to synchronizations with social profiles (the latter, as you can guess, brings with it a treasure trove of valuable data).
Then there’s everything that concerns the history of contact between the company and the client; even this “snapshot” is fundamental for making the dialog more fluid and efficient (to give a basic example, think about the importance of identifying a customer’s preferred communication channel out of the many options–email, phone, dedicated apps–and their schedules, frequency of communication, feedback they’ve given, etc.).
Of course, a good corporate CRM strategy is one that knows how to organize all this information in the most functional, automatic, and appropriate way for the purposes at hand.
We’ve already underlined the final objective: To get to know your audience in an increasingly intimate manner, with a “magnifying glass” pointed at the individual (this is fundamental for retailers).
But that’s not all: Investing in a good CRM strategy and a solid CRM strategy allows the company to keep its own processes under control, setting the right metrics and implementing the most advanced analytics systems. Starting from this analysis of the past, you can improve the dynamics of the immediate future.
The moment of making the reservation, therefore, is connected to all of this in two complementary ways:
- First, this touchpoint is transformed into a source of “deep” and personalized data on individuals, to be included in the company CRM strategy.
- On the other hand, thanks to the data collection that comes from CRM systems, the moment of booking becomes even more personalized. Also in this case, no longer a one-to-many flow, but a real one-to-one dialog, is fundamental for early upselling or cross-selling actions, but also for particular engagement and loyalty programs.
In short, we’re talking about a true virtuous circle: the new digital reservation brings advantages for both customers and retailers… advantages that reinforce each other.