CRM Optimization: Using The Latest Tools To Make Friends In Retail

By Stanton Kawer, CEO of Blue Chip

I don’t want another text message or Facebook update, I want a friend.

In the retail industry, our approach to CRM platforms has been extreme. Way back in 2008, the common refrain was “I don’t know what to do with all my data.” Retailers understood that data was significant. They had gotten much smarter about acquiring information; they just didn’t know the best way to utilize it.

Since 2009, the evolution of technology models and applications has invited a willingness to try almost anything.  From global brands to start-ups, the retail community has been testing and trying to be first to market with texting, mobile couponing, social media initiatives and sales incentives — anything and everything they could throw at the wall to engage consumers.


As we’ve moved from these two extremes of complacency to the “Wild West” of execution, we’ve forgotten the most important letter in the acronym CRM is the letter “R” for RELATIONSHIP.  We now have a handle on the tools with which to reach our shoppers more frequently and with razor-like focus.  However, we can’t allow ourselves to be lazy in how we use them to build our community of “friends” — shoppers who care about our stores and our brands more deeply than those that display a temporary affinity for the price promotion of the day.

Retail CRM is still an exercise to build differentiation and loyalty to help our retail banners when we are most vulnerable. Retail CRM promises to give our shoppers a reason to believe in us as merchants and friends. It is not enough to blast out emails, texts and twitters announcing last-minute savings. We need to bring all of our knowledge about individual customers that we have gained through database management tools and genuinely speak to them as we would our own friends. Remember that customers choose their favorite retail “friends” with filters such as:

  • How will this relationship make my life better?
  • Does shopping at this retailer provide me solutions?  Does it inspire me to feel better about myself?
  • Are they dependable?  Do they understand me?

From geo-targeting tools such as Foursquare to dynamic “listen and participation” software such as radian6 and scoutlabs, we have an invitation to disrupt (old-school), but we must now attract and ultimately participate with our shopper-friends. We must speak with them instead of to them.  We must accept that CRM lives through messaging and social media, but that it also lives along the entire path to purchase. If 63% of generations X & Y go online prior to their shopping trip, including 50% the day of their shopping trip, how do we get 50% to also go online two and three days prior to the trip?  We do it by caring.  We do it by being their friend.  We do it by concentrating on the “R.”

As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BlueChip, Stanton captains the strategic direction of the agency and plays an integral role in every facet of the organization. Under his leadership and direction, Blue Chip has been nationally recognized for its success in consumer brand advertising, retail shopper marketing, and promotions, and has been acknowledged with numerous industry awards for creative and results-oriented campaigns. Stanton has also directed the agency’s brand management on behalf of many of the world’s most recognized and trusted companies, including: Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers, Sunstar Butler, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and Miller Brewing.

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