Understanding the Customer

Gaining knowledge of the customer base, demographics and behavioral characteristics is essential to retailers' success. Leading retailers are turning to CRM applications to gain deeper understanding of customers and are using this information to improve customer loyalty strategies, achieve price optimization, more efficient forecasting, and reduce costs.

Retailers can cut costs by reducing inventories and improving purchasing and forecasting processes. By accurately accounting for prices, SKU's and UPC codes, which come from customer analytics, stores can be more profitable.

Armed with more sophisticated knowledge of the customer, retailers are able to develop services and products that are targeted to individual customers, resulting in one-to-one marketing that facilitates repeat business and improved customer loyalty. CRM analytics applications also help to measure and analyze customer perception, identify price elasticity and price sensitivity points.

Delivering Data

Casual Male recently piloted a mobile computing solution designed to provide sales associates with a better understanding of clients' needs and preferences across the 500-store specialty chain. The retailer wanted to be able to review and update such client information as collar sizes and pant lengths while serving them in the store. Casual Male selected NSB's Connected Retailer Store and CRM applications on Symbol's MC50 Enterprise Digital Assistants (EDA) for the system. The NSB POS software is stationed at the corporate office and is connected to stores via a satellite network. Sales associates query the CRM database, which is updated in real time, to learn more about their customers. As Casual Male fully implements the CRM application and a loyalty program, associates will be prompted by different triggers based on each customer's loyalty status and previous shopping history.

Taking a cue from other customer-centric retailers, Toronto-based Danier Leather recently implemented a full suite of Fujitsu customer transaction and relationship software applications, point-of-sale hardware, mobile technology and complete project management, deployment, integration and maintenance services. The solution will track customer purchases as well as responses to promotions in order to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of the company's marketing efforts.

"Danier was looking for someone who could handle complex, large-scale retail system integrations without having to involve a large number of vendors," says Phil Cutter, CIO, Danier Leather. The solution set is designed to track customer purchases and responses to promotions and deliver information on the ROI of the retailer's marketing campaigns.

The system includes stored value software, returns management software, delivery of large-scale integration, mobile technology, POS software, data reporting software and POS hardware. The CRM software includes Fujitsu's Corema real-time loyalty application, targeted campaign management and analytics for end-to-end customer relationship management.

Danier piloted the system in October 2005 with full rollout to the company's 97 stores across Canada scheduled to begin in the first calendar quarter of 2006.

By mining data from the POS system, the CRM suite will allow the retailer to understand customers' purchasing habits and determine which offers will generate a purchase response. By combining the POS system with the mobile devices, Danier will be able to improve service and deliver targeted offers anywhere in the store.

Standardizing CRM

To improve its customer loyalty efforts, Overstock.com is creating a more integrated CRM infrastructure. The online retailer is standardizing on Oracle CRM applications and Oracle Fusion Middleware. Previously, Overstock.com operated four different front-end systems, each containing customer data captured by its shopping, auction and travel Web sites. Because the systems were not integrated, the retailer had limited cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

As the company's revenue reached nearly $1 billion in 2005, company executives realized that in-house service applications could not scale up to match the rising volume of customer calls. "We chose Oracle CRM's Service applications to help increase customer satisfaction while we drive down cost," says Shawn Schwegman, vice president, technology, Overstock.com. "Now we can offer our customers convenient Web and e-mail self-service options that reduce our call volume, plus we can resolve issues faster when customers do call us. That means shorter hold times, happier customers and ultimately lower prices. Everybody wins."

Oracle's middleware includes Oracle Customer Data Hub, Oracle Application Server and Oracle BPEL Process Manager, coupled with a data warehouse. Together, these technologies enable the company to consolidate siloed data and obtain a holistic view of its customers, while helping to decrease IT management costs.

"Leveraging customer data across the phone, Web and e-mail," Schwegman says, "earns us customer loyalty by providing a consistent, personalized experience."


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