As it becomes increasingly inconvenient and costly for consumers to shop in the store, more and more of them are turning to online stores to make their purchases. Unfortunately for small and mid-sized retailers, many consumers don't step outside of comfortable eCommerce sites like Amazon and Google Shopping to make their purchases.
How can modern retailers compete?
1. Options – The modern consumer expects more options than ever before, and not just in terms of the products to choose from. They want to be able to make purchases and access information not just from your site, but through Facebook, eBay, Amazon, catalogs, call centers, and individual product sites.
Being able to operate through that many channels in a consistent manner is almost impossible without flexible and near-ubiquitous internal CRM solutions.
2. Social Media – Social media is all about building relationships, so it naturally goes together with CRM. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to realize this and use sites like Facebook and Twitter purely as a direct sales channel. It's important to recognize that these channels are also important for customer service and reputation building. Focus on using these technologies to build long-lasting relationships with customers, often one-on-one, in order to boost customer retention.
3. Mobile – Increasingly, users surf the web not from a PC (or Mac) but from a smartphone or tablet. It's extremely important to design your site to be easily used from one of these devices, and it can be helpful to capitalize on the app marketplaces as well. Once again, flexible CRM software is necessary in order to track and perform activity from these devices through the same interface as other transactions and communications.
4. Local – While we tend to think of eCommerce as being the opposite of “local” retail, it is actually moving in an increasingly local direction. Consumers increasingly want the option to pick up or return products from local stores after paying for them online. Online marketing through channels like FourSquare, Google+ Local, and Yelp is also growing in importance for local retail stores.
5. Analytics – This is where CRM really comes into play. With so many channels and so many methods of engagement, it becomes almost impossible to monitor what is happening and what strategies are working without CRM technologies. It's important to identify the channel history of each customer in order to understand which strategies are genuinely paying off. All too often, companies make the error of believing that the channel used at the bottom of the funnel is the only one worth investing in. In reality, a lot of reputation and relationship building is happening higher up the funnel, often through different channels. Much of this is impossible to monitor without CRM.
By CAL Business Solutions –