Retail & Distribution

Reaching Customers Via Today’s Complex Customer Journeys

19 March 2019

4 min
There have never been more ways to reach a customer to push them along the funnel. But not surprisingly, it has never been more complex, either.

Omnichannel has transformed neat, linear shopping journeys into a tangled web. Thanks to the explosion of marketing and shopping channels, a customer may be exposed to a product on social, check it out on mobile web, put the item in their cart on desktop, but then end up purchasing it at a local store – or any of the exponential variations of all that. The exciting part for retailers is that there have never been more ways to reach a customer to push them along the funnel. But not surprisingly, it has never been more complex, either.

On top of that, consumers increasingly expect brands to reach out to them not as part of a segment of similar customers, but as individuals. They want products, offers and special privileges based on their own habits and interests, and will walk away from even a long-established brand relationship if they’re not getting what they want. According to BRP’s 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, 51% of consumers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand.

Unfortunately, many retailers are struggling to serve up personalized experiences at every touchpoint, thanks to legacy, insufficiently integrated software infrastructure. According BRP, “Many retailers have started down the unified commerce path by offering services that emulate the expected seamless holistic shopping experience, but in many cases the methods were manual and involved complex integration across multiple systems and processes, and then they didn’t often work very well in real-time.”

For example, PwC found retailers’ ability to create offers in real time is failing to live up to consumers’ expectations. “The data on which customers tend to make what purchases in-store is certainly available, but rarely gets turned into an appropriate, personalized in-store offer sent as an email or a text.”

Wanted: Centralized CRM

The meandering nature of today’s shopping journeys plus the demand for personalization means retailers need a 21st Century approach to customer relationship management. Today’s CRM applications must be capable of far more than storing customers’ loyalty activity. They must:

  1. Be tightly integrated with all channels;
  2. Enable real-time updating, visibility and access across customer touchpoints;
  3. Generate and deliver personalized messaging and promotions to specific customers in real time via any touchpoint; and
  4. Capture detailed data on every interaction with the brand: customer purchases, preferences, channel activities, customer service interactions, and so on, to create a single, 360-degree view of that customer.

With feature-rich, omnichannel CRM capability in place, retailers can reach customers via their preferred channels no matter where they are in the shopping journey, and offer a recommendation or promotion at the time it’s most meaningful and valued.

For example, L’Occitane en Provence, a renowned brand specializing in pure and natural cosmetics and perfumes, has tapped omnichannel CRM to fuel its successful international expansion. The retailer customizes its use according to local market needs, such as supporting a complex points programs in Asia and generating personalized offers in Europe.

Other retailers in the beauty, cosmetics and luxury verticals know well the value of using omnichannel CRM data to meet customers’ expectations and preferences to fuel international expansion. Well-known brands such as L’Oréal, Sephora and Yves Rocher all have customized their CRM data to meet local market needs in Asia and Europe.

The Benefits Of A Personalized Experience

A powerful CRM enables a retailer to deliver a personal, relevant offer, invitation or recommendation to influence a customer at just the right moment across channels. That drives important benefits such as increased traffic, more efficient marketing spend, incremental revenue from upsells and cross-sells and happier, more satisfied and loyal customers, no matter where the actual transactions occur.

But the channel that is most transformed by omnichannel CRM is stores.

When a feature-rich CRM is tightly integrated with store technologies, retailers have the customer data and marketing promotional tools they need to dramatically customize the store visit. It starts as the customer nears or enters a store. Retailers are leveraging a range of technologies to finally achieve a long-sought capability: identifying customers on arrival; a sizeable 62% of retailers indicate customer identification is their top customer engagement priority, according to BRP. This in turn drives experience-enhancing activities, such as alerting store personnel to greet the customer by name. Then, via mobile devices, associates can offer a range of guided selling services and mobile checkout on the spot.

Stores can also leverage CRM data via in-store technologies such as apps, digital signage, kiosks, beacons, IoT, RFID, Wifi and more to tailor customer interactions with those devices to an individual customer’s needs. CRM also supports seamless, just-walk-out checkout, since customer identity is key to making that possible.

A shared, centralized platform that tightly integrates in-store POS with rest of the retail enterprise – including a single, 360-degree view of the customer online and offline — is key to making personalized, real-time omnichannel marketing messages a reality. According to Gartner, “POS is increasingly presented as part of a larger unified commerce platform offering that reaches all functions needed to support a meandering customer journey across a retailers’ ecosystem. Aside from POS, this includes e-commerce, mobile commerce, the physical store, social commerce and IoT functions. The result is a comprehensive, continuous customer experience that converges the digital and physical retail environments.”

With a strong unified commerce platform that includes strong CRM capabilities, retailers position themselves to serve customers just they way they want, with personalized messaging delivered at the right time and place to make their shopping experience fun and successful.

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