By - Limesh Parekh, CEO of Enjay IT Solutions
E-commerce has become the preferred choice of consumers today for purchase of a wide range of products, including consumer electronics, computers and hardware products. Like other industries, the IT and computer hardware retail sector too faces tough competition from the e-marketplace.As per industry reports, the IT retailers today operate at a meager profit margin of 0.03% vs the 30% profits they enjoyed a decade ago.
With rising costs for managing a brick and mortar retail set up, lower margins and a struggle to retain the ever experimental consumer base, traditional IT retailers are forced to re-think their existing business models. With its versatile potential to drive business growth, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be instrumental to turn around the IT retail business model and make it sustainable, while offering insights into potential growth areas. Some of the key areas where CRM can help the IT retail segment include:
1. Organized customer database
The significance of maintaining a record of customers walking into a retail outlet for purchase or enquiry has largely been undermined in the IT Retail sector. As a result, there has been limited scope of connecting, engaging and understanding the customers, who form the very basis of the retail business.
A well planned and strategic CRM module can help build an accurate and updated customer database, while offering robust insights into store walk-in patterns, purchase interests and enquiry subjects. It also provides valuable information into the specific customer demographics – average age, spending power, occupation and socio-economic background, all of these been key factors to predict the preferred products and services these customers would be looking for.
2. Driving sales
Driving sales is the key backbone for any business to grow. This has been significantly impacted in the IT retail segment, with tough competition from the e-marketplace. Combating heavily discounted pricing, vast range of products across Indian and International brands and advance tools like consumer reviews and comparison of similar products offered by the e-marketplace, IT retailers have been at a loss of ideas to drive sales in the real marketplace.
Equipped with a CRM software that has a well-organized consumer database in place can be a starting point to create a well thought out sales and marketing strategy. With valuable insights into customer demographics, a more customized range of products can be displayed to meet the product features, budget and aesthetic preferences of your customer base. Further, with insights into buying patterns, frequency, potential enquiries that can be converted to sales and an enthusiastic sales force can all help to drive sales in an organized form.
3. Enhanced customer experience
Having an accurate and updated database and a relevant marketing strategy can lead up to good sales and thus a corresponding growth in business. However, in order to maintain a long term momentum of success, an effective customer engagement strategy is imperative. Further, the scope of face to face interactions and a customized service delivery are the key differentiators for the IT retail segment – something that is lacking in the e-marketplace model. It thus needs to be effectively capitalized by creating enhanced customer experience at every interaction. Be it interactions at the initial level of enquiry, a process of closing a lead and making a purchase or during the set up/ after sales service, customer experience is crucial.
Aided with insights and managed through intelligent processes, CRM can help generate effective modules to engage with the customers at every step of the interaction. Further, with insights into customer behavior and demographics, CRM can be helpful in predicting the customer feedback to specific services or product offerings, thus assisting in ‘intuitive’ marketing and customer service strategies. What’s more, CRM can also help monitor the performance of your sales staff and provide timely guidance to ensure there is a consistent focus on enhancing consumer experience.
4. Reinventing offerings
Often retailers assume that the most popular, most modern or most cost effective product or service is what will be highly preferred by their customers – a notion that is not always true. While reinventing ones offerings from time to time is crucial to maintain customer interest and to attract new buyers, selection of the right set of products is vital.
Here is again where CRM can offer valuable insights into the success and popularity of a new range of products or services.Gaining insights from customer demographics, purchase patterns, enquiry formats and feedback from customers during engagement sessions, CRM can be effective to drive the course of the business module in the direction with highest growth potential.
While there are widely accepted benefits to online marketplace, one of the key differentiators for traditional IT retail remains personalization of customer interactions. With CRM being explored to its full potential, customers can be effectively engaged so as to create enhanced consumer experience leading to customer loyalty and ultimately business growth.