Many have seen the Future, and it is History

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. — Winston Churchill 

Social, Local, Mobile, Payments and CRM are all converging to blur the line between online and offline transactions in retail. A much overlooked part of this retail pentagram is CRM.history

There is no doubt that retailers have to adapt and evolve to better engage consumers and transform the retail experience, but how do you even begin to understand the customer without having the tools to really get to know the customer, and having sufficient data to analyze the past and recognize where and how to adapt and evolve?

CRM are not overpriced sales tool for the big guys, with cloud solutions. Retailers of all shapes have access to tools that can help attract customers and promote MSIB.  The right CRM solution should be non intrusive and secondary to the customer interaction. It should be able to monitor and observe without detracting from the customer experience, and by monitor and observe I am not talking PRISM but more like starting to type a word in a search engine and search suggestions appear in a drop down. Subtle, helpful and non intrusive.

Just as the cart and browsers combine to enhance the user experience and are the key to the online experience, payments and service are combining to transform the point of sale to the point of interaction and becoming key to the offline experience.  Add companies like Tranzlogic and other big data to the mix and the access to relevant data that can be used to predict in store trends is mind boggling.

There is no need for small and mid size retailers to rush out to the bleeding edge, but there are proven solutions that can be adopted that leverage the existing merchant ecosystem that they can and should adopt. Any effective CRM solution should be integrated into the online and offline Points of Sale.

Ever see those eHarmony ads that seem to be everyplace, they apparently have an algorithm that predicts agreeableness.   I am not going to weigh in on their controversies; but I am going to talk about iHarmony, it’s what I call that perfect balance between customer and inventory.

To find out if you are achieving iHarmony, ask yourself if your CRM interacts and “plays nice” with your POS system. It is not enough that it only recommends upsell items (that work) or gives you customer history, but is it collecting and analyzing data and assisting in reordering and marketing?

Does it help you create targeted promotions to customers based on their histories, does it have the ability for sales associates on the floor to create shopping carts based on what the customer is interested in? And does it allow you to analyze in-store abandoned carts. Does your POS take your customer for granted, or does it help you achieve iHarmony.

To paraphrase Alexis de Tocqueville; does it use history to illuminate the future or keeps your spirit walking in darkness.

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About Kevin

1001 opinions on how retailers leverage data to manage their inventory, employees, supply chain and optimize their customers' experiences. Have equally as many about red liquid in wine bottles, especially those from Napa Valley and the Santa Rita Hills.

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