The holiday shopping season may be over, but the opportunity for retailers to capitalize on it is not.
For many years, the weeks leading up to holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve were considered the make-or-break period for selling everything from clothes to major appliances. That’s why the fiscal year in the retail sector often ends on Jan. 31 — who has time to crunch the numbers and close the books when so many orders are coming through the door?
While the holidays are still critical for retail sales, companies that have adopted a CRM like Sales Cloud have recognized they can do more to bolster their Q4 revenue, even once everyone’s back at work or school.
This isn’t just a matter of putting a large quantity of your existing inventory on sale at a deep discount. That’s a product-focused strategy. It’s dependent on trying to lure a volume of customers back through the door.
Instead, using CRM is all about thinking about who your customers are, what they want and marketing in ways that help deliver it to them. It’s a value-focused strategy, dependent on the quality of the relationship you’ve developed with your best customers.
If your team has been collecting and inputting data into your CRM throughout the holiday season, use the rest of Q4 to start combing through it to determine your next best actions. Some of these can be implemented right away — possibly generating more sales before Q4 comes to an official end:
Sometimes customers come into a retailer knowing exactly what they want, pick it off the shelf, pay for it and leave. More often, however, they have questions and rely on expert store associates to answer them.
Experienced associates probably hear a lot of the same kinds of questions, and consider answering them just part of their day-to-day job. In reality, those questions are important moments on the customer journey — and retailers can use them to make the journey even better.
If you’re a hardware retailer, for example, customers might have a number of questions about how a power tool works. An associate can cover the basics at the time, but if you capture those questions in CRM, you can develop a broader content marketing strategy.
You could create blog posts, for instance, that provide helpful shopping lists of complementary tools and accessories that will make certain home renovation projects easier.
You could create a video that will show proper ways to use the tool to remind customers of what they heard once they got home.
You can also post pictures on your Instagram account of finished projects using the tool that help customers better visualize the end results they want.
CRM data is a great way to identify subjects or topics where customers need more education, which in turn leads to more sales, because you’re earning their trust.
Retailers know all kinds of ways to pull people into their stores, whether it’s a great window display, a billboard sign or special deals and promotions they share online.
All those things work great when you’re marketing to the masses, but boosting Q4 results will require something different. You need to be able to push information out to customers who already came in, giving them reasons to return.
If you collected email addresses in your CRM, for instance, you now have a great opportunity to follow up in ways that are highly personalized and relevant.
Maybe when they visited the store, a product was out of stock but is available now.
Perhaps an item they liked and bought is now available in another colour.
Email is not the only channel you could use with consumers, of course. Use text messages to send alerts about personalized promotions, or to make them aware of similar products that other customers bought.
Think about how you can give customers more direct control and buy-in for all these marketing efforts. An online preference centre, for example, can be a great way to let them choose how often they want to be contacted, and what they want to be contacted about.
CRM data doesn’t just show you who bought what — it also shows who your most valuable customers are in terms of the quantities they buy, the price point of what they buy and their eagerness to buy, based on how often they come back.
You may have already spotted some of your highest-value customers if you analyze your post-holiday CRM data. This may be the right time to turn your fans into true advocates.
Retailers can create affiliate or referral programs, for instance, whereby customers can receive unique codes and offer them to their friends and family. These codes can be tied back to rewards offers, such as a free or discounted item for every referral that turns into a new customer.
Other tried-and-true practices include loyalty programs where customers earn points, but CRM data allows you to take loyalty programs up a notch by creating more targeted or segmented clubs for your most loyal buyers. Think about starting a loyalty program just for seniors, for new parents or some other category.
The more you segment your customer base, the better you’re able to offer more of a one-to-one marketing approach that feels helpful, rather than intrusive.
It’s easy to look across a store or within a warehouse, see piles of items that didn’t get purchased and slap a discount price on them. Some of those items, however, may get bought at a later date, such as swimsuits or gardening supplies.
CRM data can provide a clearer indication of products that are under-performing from a sales perspective, but more importantly, why.
Yes, you might need to put the product on sale — or maybe you should put a complementary product on sale instead.
An office supply retailer might sell more printers if there was a special promotion on ink.
A clothing retailer could sell more ties if the suits were 25% off.
Once you’ve made these decisions, the marketing tactics that follow become clearer, too. You can design online ads, run social campaigns or put information in email newsletters that convert.
You might have heard a lot of customers wish you ‘Happy Holidays’ in December. Try these ideas to enjoy a ‘Happy Q4’ too.