An All-Encompassing Approach to Cloud-Based Retail CRM

The retail industry has experienced rapid changes over the last couple of years as Covid-19 impacted both sides of the sector significantly. Where retailers had to act quickly to enhance — or in some instances, create entirely — their e-commerce capabilities, consumers quickly took advantage of heightened convenience when it came to purchasing through online channels.

With this increase in online shopping, many retailers responded by investing heavily in digital transformation all along their retail management ecosystems, deploying omnichannel solutions to remain competitive in what would become the new era of retail: a seamless blend between in-store and online sales channels.

This required the advancement of a range of areas: from mobile point-of-sale (POS), to order management systems, through to reporting analytics and secure CRM.

Consumers now demand a wide range of options and a completely personalized approach from retailers. Some want to buy online and pickup in store, others want to browse and purchase entirely from their mobile phones, and some still crave the complete in-store experience.

Retailers need to cater to all these preferences. Understanding customer expectations and feedback is important to ensure customer satisfaction. To achieve this, retailers need an all-in-one solution that integrates completely and logically with their cloud-based CRM and wider retail management system. POS systems that have in-built CRM solutions can be leveraged by retailers to streamline their operations.

The Necessity of CRM

The global CRM software market is projected to grow to $49.6 billion by 2025, according to Statista, an increase of nearly $4 billion from 2020. By leveraging CRM, retailers can classify a customer in several ways, including data led segmentation, customer behavior, purchase frequency, recency, and likelihood of purchase.

CRM plays an indispensable role in managing a retailer’s relationship with consumers. In a post-pandemic environment where customer expectations continue to grow, it has never been more important for a retailer to be in tune with consumer demands, and more importantly, have the ability to deliver on those requirements.

To meet these needs, retailers must ensure that their CRM integrates fully with their wider applications that complete an omnichannel offering, enabling an all-encompassing approach that remains flexible with changing consumer needs.

Creating a Holistic Strategy

The general aim of a CRM tool is to establish and strengthen the relationships between customers and the retailer. To build a successful relationship, a business must know their customers, understand their habits, and respect their values. With all these points combined, retailers should have the necessary information required to understand consumer demands as well as business needs.

A proper CRM system lets retailers create a single source of information around each customer, enabling consistent visibility of every shopper. A holistic customer view enables retailers to visualize customer purchasing habits across sales channels, allowing them to segment customers. The capability to access all customer data in one place gives retailers the ability to build meaningful relationships with shoppers and create customer loyalty.

The appropriate CRM also enables customers to use their earned loyalty benefits or stored value across any channel with customer data and assets centrally visible. In addition, the software should be user-friendly and allow businesses to integrate external applications and tools to maximize efficiency.

Meanwhile, with consumers becoming increasingly conscious about how their data is used, GDPR compliance is now a significant consideration to keep in mind as well.

Importance of GDPR-Compliant CRM

A CRM platform should not only fulfill business needs but also ensure the safety and security of both consumers and business.

Following the acceleration of digitalization, the retail sector has become a tempting target for hackers. Retailers without the right technologies can put themselves and their consumers at risk of becoming victims of a cyberattack. Hence, the security aspect of the CRM — which potentially holds highly sensitive data of each customer — should never be overlooked.

For any retailer, customers and their data are the most valuable assets. Compromising on the security of these assets can lead to huge fines from regulators. On top of that, retailers can lose consumer trust and business reputation, all due to a lack of the appropriate security measures in place.

The modern CRM should allow retailers to store customer data securely in a separate repository, which is accessed and referenced only when needed by associates, without ever revealing or importing customer data into a local system. This minimizes the risk of a breach, both externally and internally, and makes data security simple, easy, and compliant.

A Comprehensive Retail CRM

It is vital to have a strong POS system that is user-friendly and flexible when it comes to integration. To improve the CRM system, retailers should move toward all-in-one integrated retail solutions that satisfy business needs in sync with each other.

A solution that is compatible with the wider retail management system — from POS, to CRM, and order management — as well as reporting and analytics, can increase retailers’ productivity with while providing better integration and user experience.

Delivering a great user experience is the key to building positive customer relationships. However, to achieve this, retailers must not be restricted to relying exclusively on CRM tools. Instead, they should be able leverage the data gathered by the CRM to seamlessly adjust operations across the wider management ecosystem.

By integrating advanced POS software that are compatible with smartphones and tablets, retailers can also utilize the features in offline modes. In addition, modern POS solutions configured in smartphones and tablets can provide information and access to the entire customer history through profiles in the mobile POS app. This can enable retailers to attract and retain customers by providing personalized experiences, which research has found to be a priority among consumers.

While cloud-based CRM is important, it must be used as part of a wider, all-encompassing retail stack. This can allow retailers to remain competitive and flexible to changing consumer demands. Those using an all-in-one solution can gather all information in one place. This can further strengthen their position in an increasingly saturated landscape and provide retailers with an advantage over their competitors.

Jonathan Mauerer is VP of Operations at Teamwork Commerce.

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