Image source: TheBlueDiamondGallery
Retail businesses are facing increasing challenges these days. The growth of the internet, driven in recent years by the proliferation of mobile devices, has been a boon to business in terms of giving companies innovative ways to reach potential customers. It has also, however, increased the magnitude of competition that every retail business must face.
This is especially true for companies that sell products that can also be obtained online. Now, instead of merely competing with the other retail stores down the street or across town, you have to compete with anyone who has an internet connection, an eBay account, some product stock, and the technical and marketing savvy to create and promote a decent looking website.
You need an edge to survive in the retail marketplace today. Part of this is supplied by the old adage that “knowledge is power.” An important part of this is learning how to get and stay organized. There are helpful articles online that touch on this, which can give many useful insights. That said, there are also actual tools needed to help you stay organized, and a big one of these is CRM software.
You’re Flying Blind Without Good CRM Software
Retail businesses, like any other, succeed by earning a profit from selling their goods or services. The trick is to earn each of those sales for as little money spent as possible. That enables you to charge a lower price than your competition and still earn a tidy profit, which is the key to beating the competition.
Having a good marketing campaign that utilizes tracking and analytics to follow your return on investment from ads is extremely helpful in this regard. However, tracking and monitoring your interactions with each contact after they’ve seen your ads is also critical. This is where good customer relationship management software enters the picture.
Enjoy a Birds-Eye View of Your Customers’ Contacts with Your Company
Any leading CRM software will have certain core features in common. The first of these will be contact management. Typically, when you are dealing with a customer on the phone or through chat or e-mail, there will be a screen open in front of you that will quickly summarize when this customer has contacted the company previously and how far along they are in the sales process. This is extremely helpful in enabling the team member in contact with them to know what they should be told now to help seal the deal in order to convert this lead into a customer or this customer into a repeat customer.
Improve Your Marketing Efforts
The importance of a marketing campaign that tracks the successful conversion rate of various ads has been mentioned. Good CRM software can actually help with this.
Your immediate ad tracking may only inform you of which ads yield an initial customer from a given ad. However, only the long-term monitoring that CRM software provides will tell you if certain ads do better at getting people who end up becoming repeat customers.
Sell More to the Same Customers
In addition to previous communications, you will be able to see what an existing customer has already bought from your company. Perhaps you sell similar related products that now you may wish to offer them to complement their original purchase.
Some CRM systems can gather information and posts from a customer through social media, which enables you to see their likes, dislikes and preferences as well. This, together with any existing buying patterns, can help you market far more efficiently to the best prospects for any business; those who have already bought from you in the past.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Attention to customer service is one of the most critical aspects of any business. It can, unfortunately, also be one of the most overlooked. A recent report has actually indicated that 76 percent of customers consider customer service to be the true test of whether a company values them.
Many CRM software packages include or can integrate with third-party platforms and apps that can assist you with customer service. This is the key to keeping customers that you have spent hard-earned advertising dollars to obtain in the first place.
These include chat or help desk type features that make it easy for customers to report a problem or ask questions about their purchase. Take care of your customers, and they may be around for the life of your company. As mentioned in a recent article in Forbes, “acquiring new customers is important, but retaining them accelerates profitable growth.”
Stay on Top of Projects and Tasks
There are constantly tasks that need to be done to stay on top of things in any company. Many good customer relationship management systems incorporate task management as well. Easily assign team members to particular jobs, and then see where they are with regard to their completion. Being efficient with your time is one of the most critical things in business. This type of task management lets you see where you should be spending your time in terms of what needs to get done on a daily and weekly basis.
Meeting Customer Expectations
It is important to realize that, regardless of whether you use CRM software to stay on top of interactions with contacts and customers, most of your competition will be using it. When potential customers have had the experience of smooth customer service and relevant product recommendations from other retailers, they will come to expect the same from you. By not doing so, you are automatically putting yourself at a disadvantage. The more competitive your specific industry or field is the more likely that this oversight could be fatal to your company.
Part of a Critical Three-Tier Structure to Business Success
There are certain basic things that any business needs to do in order to succeed. Of course, the first thing is having a product or service to sell that is in demand. However, here I will simply be dealing with those things that enable a business to acquire customers, track their progress and grow more efficiently. These things are financial tracking software, marketing campaign management and tracking, and a customer relationship management system.
Tracking your finances is basic and doesn’t need to be explored in any detail for the purposes of this article. You have no way of knowing how you are doing if you’re not keeping track of all your financial receipts and expenditures. This can relate to CRM software because some of them can integrate with financial tracking software.
Coming up with a marketing campaign and running it and tracking your results is critical as well. You may be doing search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, content marketing through a blog, video marketing through YouTube or preferably, for optimal outreach success, a mixture of marketing techniques. Every business has to connect with potential customers, and establishing this connection is the purview of marketing.
Once your marketing has done its job and the customer contacts you, this is where the organizational structure provided by your CRM software takes over. It helps you to glean information on that contact through social media, their communications with the company and any other means possible. It does all of this with the intention of moving them along in the process of converting them from a lead into a customer and then into a loyal, repeat customer.
Avoid Becoming a Statistic
It is a sad but sobering statistic that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. One of the leading reasons is that those businesses are not really in touch with their customers. They make a sale, and this is immediately followed by them simply moving on to the next customer. They don’t go the extra mile to find out what their customers likes, dislikes and buying habits are.
For those companies that do wish to put in the effort to follow up on and establish life-long relationships with their customers, good CRM software is the tool that makes that possible. When it comes to your business succeeding, you are like a person wearing a blindfold who is throwing darts and hoping he hits something when you leave CRM software out of the mix.
Your task is made even more difficult if you sell goods that people can also obtain online. In such a situation, you may be facing people who do not have your expense of a retail store and or warehouse location in addition to employees and other potential overhead. Also, considering how challenging it is to keep a store open 24/7, visitors are constrained by certain opening and closing hours. The competition may just have a storage unit containing some product stock and an eBay or Amazon account. In such a situation, operating more efficiently in terms of maximizing every lead and customer you get may be your only hope for survival.
If you wish to ensure your personal success and a future job for your employees, don’t put these important things in the hands of random chance. To survive as a retail business in today’s marketplace, you need to be more efficient than your competition. A leading CRM software package will give you and your team the insight into your customers that is necessary for you to beat the competition in town and online.