Knowledge is power, especially for retailers who not only want to know, but need to know about their customers.

Traditionally, a good local shop keeper would have all of this information to hand, stored in his head or the accounts ledger under the counter. He would understand their buying habits, how frequently they use the store and how much they spend. He would be able anticipate their needs, buying stock and suggesting suitable products accordingly to drive business activity.

This essential  knowledge, if cultivated and used intelligently by modern independent retailers, will drive effective buying decisions, targeted marketing and promotional activity and help deliver that all important customer service and after sales care which underpins customer retention and preference for the retailer.

This valuable information exists, for many independent retailers, as scribbles on sales invoices, post-it notes on sales desk screens or as impenetrable web statistics which are not then attributed to resulting web sales, store visits or phone orders. Rather than being collated and stored in a customer relationship management system this valuable information languishes as unconnected dots, which could be joined together to provide the business with customer knowledge and insight.

In simple terms customer contact management should help you achieve a ‘single view’ of each customer or customer segment, no matter how they make contact with you – web, store, mail or telephone.

There are many tools to assist in making contact with your customers such as loyalty schemes, traceable promotions, vouchers, gift cards and newsletters all of which can associate purchases with a named customer. You can offer incentives to capture customer information to get your CRM system off the ground or to provide that vital piece of the jigsaw – their email address or mobile number

Get a system in place, ask the right questions and the data you can extract will help improve the profitability of your business. You can start to plan and devise targeted contact strategies based on questions such as:

  • Who bought what when –was this sale driven by store visit, social media, email marketing response, Google Adwords click or natural search visit to the website?
  • Show me all my loyalty card customers in the following postcode area, what is their average spend and frequency of store visit/web use?
  • Did they response to my sales promotion and what was my conversion ratio?
  • Who are my best customers, what do they buy, do they use the site or the store, when did they last buy, what are they likely to buy in the future, what is the best way to engage with them?

This information is then used for effective and targeted marketing via email, SMS, social media and of course traditional mailed material. Sales can be monitored and feedback provided on the success of each campaign and how your customers respond to these tailored promotions.

After all, your best audience are the customers who have already experience your retail brand. Keep them informed and they will also past your messages on and tell their friends.

Take a leaf out of the local shop owner’s book – customer service, reputation and personalised incentives to deliver repeat business, a loyal customer base and increased sales