CRM solutions should help retailers compete in 2016

March 8, 2016
March 8, 2016 Ken Jacobsen

CRM solutions should help retailers compete in 2016

Data from CRM solutions will be critical in 2016.

Traditional brick-and-mortar retail businesses need CRM solutions to adapt in if they want to keep up with online competition. Forbes explained how eCommerce is still a small percentage of overall consumer sales, but it has also seen consistent growth that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Specifically, small businesses need to find ways to emulate the personalized service offered by online stores. This may seem counterintuitive. How can a computer screen offer better consumer care than a human being? Here are a few things 2015 taught us about online service and how every company can use business software tools to stay competitive:

Watch competitors
Brick-and-mortar stores can’t win back their customers by just moving products online. Once a business starts selling merchandise through the Internet, it has to compete with other eCommerce organizations with more experience on the Web. GeekWire said businesses should search for innovations that distinguish them from the competition and investigate standards that make brands successful.

For one thing, eCommerce customers like self-service. Amazon dominates online retail partly due to how easy its site is to navigate. The company’s online channel offers full product descriptions, user reviews, a complete breakdown of shipping options and a variety of other features designed to provide online shoppers with the details they need to make informed buying decisions.

Traditional retail businesses need a CRM solution that captures their customers’ preferences and shopping history both online and in the traditional storefront. As a company creates an Internet marketplace and posts information about their products and services, the CRM software should monitor and store shopper activity.

Less physical space
If a business looks to expand in 2016, it should be cautious before adding more stores. USA Today examined a few retailers that struggle in the modern economy. They found that a common trend between them is that brands are forced to close locations because they can’t fill their spaces with high-demand products.

A small business should invest in merchandise, delivery and customer service before it thinks about purchasing real estate. Managers should double down on business infrastructure that can capitalize on technology innovation and big data. It’s important that as companies expand, they become smarter, rather than simply bigger. This way, times of prosperity create flexible organizations that can adapt to future economic slowdowns, as opposed to creating large operations unable to scale when demand changes.

Of course, every company is different. Managers should investigate their own data to determine what type of company their consumers want to work with. If past records indicate customers need better delivery, it doesn’t necessarily mean providing more supply chain vehicles, but maybe just restructuring warehouse operations. As new practices are put into place, accurate data collection procedures can track success of implementation.

If a company has a brick-and-mortar store, it may not make sense to simply abandon it for eCommerce solutions. In today’s economy, customers expect to be able to interact and transact with companies directly, online and using their mobile devices.

Mobile CRM solutions provide answers for everyone regardless of their physical location. Store clerks walking a space with a customer has the same information as an online shopper looking over a brand’s website. Cloud-deployed business software makes it easy to store data in a centralized source that everyone has access to. NetSuite is a solution specifically designed to support omni sales channels with CRM, eCommerce, and POS all available in one cloud-based solution.

The major theme in 2016 will be the transformation of retailing from a solely brick-and-mortar or eCommerce experience to a multi-channel marketplace according to Small Business Trends. When shoppers – online and in-store – have access to more relevant information, transparency helps a business stand out as a trusted resource, rather than just a provider of products.

The more relevant information displayed through online product descriptions, in-store signage, educational materials and marketing, the better. Advertising in 2016 should be built historical CRM data records to find what information customers’ want to hear. Managers should look for solutions that allow them to integrate business information that shoppers desire, with the data companies need to deliver.

Leave a Reply