How will retailers use the past year’s CRM trends to adapt their customer retention strategies for a successful 2018?
From technologies that enhance data collection to lifestyle and behavioral shifts that demand new customer engagement strategies, a new crop of innovative CRM tools and trends emerged (or expanded) in 2017. This month, CCG President and CEO Sandra Gudat shares her reaction to four surprising — and enduring — CRM trends from 2017. She discusses the impact these current CRM trends continue to have on the retail industry, along with ways retailers can leverage these CRM industry trends to improve retention, enhance the customer experience — and ultimately increase profits.
2017 CRM Industry Trend #1: From mobile first to mobile only.
More consumers are ditching their PCs and using their mobile devices to manage nearly all their daily activities, giving retailers an even greater opportunity to engage customers in real time. Mobile retail transactions rose nearly 10 percent in the third quarter of 2017 compared to a year ago, with U.S. advertisers reporting 68 percent of sales taking place on mobile devices.1 Retailers can take advantage of this growing trend by ensuring that their websites and apps are optimized for a seamless mobile experience and that products, reviews and content are easy to find online.
Additionally, more consumers are leaving their physical wallets at home and paying with their phones. While many retailers are eager to leverage this convenience trend by creating incentives for customers to pay with mobile wallets, it’s often easier said than done.
“Retailers are still playing catch-up with consumer expectations,” explains Gudat. “While shoppers expect a seamless experience, they aren’t aware of how complicated mobile payments can be to support on the backend. The leaders in mobile wallet have been the QSRs, with Starbucks taking the lead.”
Gudat also encourages retailers to make the process even more seamless for customers by displaying all payment options prominently in-store.
When retailers accept mobile payments, they gain more access to data, with the ability to track purchases and even link customer loyalty programs into their payment system. “Tying a loyalty program to the mobile wallet will help push adoption by your customers,” says Gudat. “Companies like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have been able to leverage their loyalty programs to acquire mobile wallet users, which, in turn, has driven traffic and conversion rates.”
2017 CRM Industry Trend #2: Welcome to the “Menaissance.”
Men are outspending women by 13 percent, with the menswear market on track to grow more than eight percent this year to $110.3 billion, outpacing the womenswear market, according to a report from Boutique@Ogilvy.2 The report also showed that 40 percent of men look for inspiration from others when it comes to wardrobe style, with retail stores being top of mind.
Millennials seem to be driving this trend as menswear sales for millennial men increased by 64 percent.3 Factors supporting this demand include changing fashion trends, popularity of luxury brands and improved shopping experiences.
“Struggling retailers can leverage this new CRM trend by expanding their focus on menswear, making displays more prominent and even rethinking their marketing campaigns,” says Gudat. “Customize your messaging by looking at your data and specifically target your male shoppers.”
2017 CRM Industry Trend #3: AI takes center stage.
Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), predictive personalization and data analytics mean customers are leaving longer and more extensive digital footprints, giving retailers more opportunity to manage customer interactions at every touchpoint. “A deeper integration of predictive analytics into CRM tools is making it easier to calculate customer value scores, which can help guide retailers on how to best spend their marketing dollars,” says Gudat.
Retailers who embrace AI to enhance the way they collect and analyze their data have the opportunity to differentiate their brand even further by delivering more personalized messaging and offers — to the right customers and at the right time.
Gudat explains that AI is helping retailers boost their ability to predict customer behaviors and anticipate needs, even going so far as to guide product and marketing strategies. For example, making better recommendations for follow-up products after a consumer browses or buys.
“Interpreting data in a way that guides an organization to an understanding of its customers and their needs is crucial,” she adds. “The challenge is not so much in collecting the data but in managing, analyzing and using it to drive customers to action.”
2017 CRM Industry Trend #4: Brick and mortar gets a makeover.
While 75 percent of customers still want to see a product in a store, according to Alliance Data’s Now, Now, Next report, they’re also seeking out shopping experiences and interactive activities. Whether that means downsizing for a more personalized impact or connecting online and physical stores for a more unified customer experience, this trend is leading retailers to rethink and redefine the physical store to adapt to customer needs.
“Understanding where and why customers want to interact with your brand provides new opportunities to engage and provide a more personalized and enhanced shopping experience,” says Gudat. “Retailers can leverage this trend by going beyond their product to give shoppers more reasons to visit their physical store.”
For example, Nordstrom’s concept store, known as Nordstrom Local, offers tailoring, manicures and even a beverage bar for shoppers picking up an online purchase.
What’s next for retail CRM trends?
As customer expectations continue to pave the way toward more personal and customized retail experiences, brands will look for ways to elevate their products and services to increase customer retention and stay top of mind.
“One of the best ways to anticipate customer needs is to track customer journeys and incorporate actual customer feedback into the process to understand the points of friction and how they would prefer to interact with your brand,” explains Gudat.
Emerging CRM trends to watch for in 2018 include more interactive, connected and sharable experiences. That may include augmented reality (AR) experiences that complement a brand (think Pokémon Go) and pop-up-experiences that reinvent the ways consumers interact with their brands on an emotional level. “Retailers can leverage these emerging CRM trends that enable them to be more efficient and relevant as they adapt to their customers’ ever-changing needs and expectations,” she adds.
Future CRM Trends and the Race to Stay Relevant
As customer expectations continue to evolve, brands looking to stay ahead of the curve will need to leverage their treasure trove of data and implement strategies that meet customer needs. By examining how the CRM trends of the past year can help your retail marketing objectives, you’ll be on track to create a strategic action plan and set yourself up for success in 2018 and beyond.
Do you have the tools in your retail marketing toolbox to turn these CRM trends into profits next year? CCG’s retail CRM and loyalty marketing experts have four decades of hands-on experience helping top retailers develop and maintain long-lasting and profitable customer relationships. Find out how our full suite of retail marketing services and capabilities can help you reach your CRM goals. Call us at 800.525.0313 or email us today for a complimentary one-on-one discussion.
1 “U.S. Retail: 68% of Sales Take Place on Mobile,” Laurie Sullivan, Search Marketing Daily, posted Nov. 10, 2017, https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/310057/us-retail-68-of-sales-take-place-on-mobile.html
2 Boutique@Ogilvy 2016 Men’s Shopping Report, https://www.ogilvy.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Boutique-at-Ogilvy-2016-Men27s-Shopping-Report.pdf
3 “Millennial Men Increase Sales Revenues for Menswear Apparel by 64%,” Jeanel Alvarado, LinkedIn, posted Jan. 20, 2017 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/millennial-men-increase-sales-revenues-menswear-apparel-alvarado