Making CRM the key to unlocking unrivalled customer understanding

BY Australian Retailers Association
20 April 2020

Led by tech-savvy shoppers with digital baskets and a thirst for 24-7 online consumerism, the retail industry has changed dramatically in recent years.

In Australia, online retail shopping is booming, with eight out of ten consumers shopping online, according to recent research from Australia Post. That’s a lot of customers to manage, understand, and engage with. Whether it’s offline, online, or both, these customers want unique, personalised experiences that are both convenient and memorable. 

One of the best ways retail businesses can provide these tailored experiences and develop a holistic understanding of - and engagement with - their customers is by implementing Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). CRM software is an in-depth system that manages business interactions and relationships with both current and potential customers. Businesses can gain great competitive advantages through the use of CRM if they understand and capitalise on its evolving trends and capabilities. 

So here are a few tips to help your business develop a winning CRM strategy:

Personalise and scale for the future 

As a retail business owner, it’s necessary to identify an integrated CRM system that is more industry-specific and offers personalisation for your business. This means a dynamic system that is tailored specifically to your retail business, rather than a rigid system that forces you to change. As CRM software becomes more sophisticated, personalisation is growing in importance in everyday business relationships. In retail, specifically, a CRM system provides the potential to do anything from offering personalised messages for your customers to suggesting products based on their shopping history. It's It’s personalisation like this, empowered by a CRM, that helps you elevate customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty. 

Automate processes

Automation, and the potential it has to make running a retail operation that little bit easier, could be key to the future of your business. After all, by streamlining your more mundane operations - like data entry and email marketing - you can spend more time creating beautiful products and providing great experiences for your customers.

In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 25% of customer service operations will be managed by virtual customer assistants. With hyper-personalisation and AI/Machine learning, your CRM can gather rich data about your prospects and customers. And, the more you automate, the more your CRM understands your customers and your business, and how the two can interact. When your business leverages CRM automation to intimately understand who your ideal customers are and what products or services they desire, you will be in a much better position to attract and retain them.

Mobile-first platforms

Mobile CRM software has evolved from being an add-on to become a piece of core functionality. This represents a shift to a more mobile-enabled industry. In retail, it’s imperative to have CRM systems that enable sales teams to track and update their complete sales cycle from their phones or tablets. If your retail business demands you and your sales team travel often to meet new or potential customers or you use an iPad, for example, as your primary in-store technology, then mobile CRM is an ideal solution for you to access all your customer, supplier, and stakeholder data through one app, on-the-go. 

Deeper voice control

One of the prominent objectives of AI and machine learning is to streamline businesses by cutting down on manual, repetitive work like, for instance, customer data entry. In 2020, this will become possible with deeper voice processing, where sales reps can guide a virtual assistant to collect customer information and perform crucial actions. Just like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant have become an omnipresent part of everyday life; ; voice control will become a big part of CRMs in 2020, freeing your retail business’ employees to spend more time doing the important stuff. 

Taking your retail business to the next level is about providing an unrivalled experience that turns good customer relationships into great ones. Integrating a CRM strategy can be a means to both achieve your broader business objectives and promote long term customer loyalty and engagement. By keeping up with the latest trends in the CRM space and understanding the potential for your retail business, you might find those tech-savvy shoppers with a thirst for 24-7 online consumerism are filling their digital baskets with your goods in 2020.

About the author: Vijay Sundaram is Zoho’s, Chief Strategy Officer. Zoho is the operating system for business—a single online platform capable of running an entire business. With 45+ apps in nearly every major business category, including sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, and back back-office operations, and an array of productivity and collaboration tools, Zoho is one of the world's world’s most prolific software companies.




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Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $320 billion sector, which employs more than 1.3 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating, and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit or call 1300 368 041.

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