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Photo by Nick Webb (Creative Commons)

Photo by Nick Webb (Creative Commons)

The days of the 80/20 rule are over. Retailers can no longer rely on 20 percent of customers to bring in 80 percent of their sales. The Internet has irreversibly put the power into the hands of the customer, providing transparent, easy access to a world of choices. Now, a new marketplace has evolved. Competing retailers must fight not just for a customer’s first purchase, but for every purchase thereafter.

Today, there’s no such as an existing customer. Here’s why:

1. Retail is hyper-competitive.

Retail is expected to grow to $3.3T by 2017. It’s a large market growing in size, speed, opportunity and competition. Thanks to search engines, daily deals, social media and transparency in pricing, consumers have an infinite number of purchase options at their fingertips. A simple online search lets shoppers easily filter through deals to find the best buy. In addition to pressuring retailers to discount and collect even smaller margins, this means that after a customer is captured and a sale is made, the battle for their business starts all over again the second they leave your store or website.

2. Customers are switched-on channel surfers.

With smartphones, tablets and laptops, today’s customers expect 24/7 access to information.

They also expect retailers to also know who they are and provide easy access to what they want. If you can’t provide them with a personalized and consistent experience across the channels they engage you in, you risk losing them altogether.

New research by Neustar indicates that seven out of ten of the companies feel having an omni-channel marketing strategy, delivering personalized experiences with customers and prospects across multiple touch points, is key to growing revenues up to 20 percent.[1] For this reason, personalized, multi-channel marketing is no longer an option for retailers – it’s a mandate. From in-store interactions to online engagements, your interactions with customers must be seamless. If not, they will gravitate to competitors who can deliver.

Other research supports the idea that the more channels you engage your customers in, the more valuable your customers become. In September of last year, Nordstrom’s Executive Vice President and CFO told an audience at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference that customers who engaged that retailer through multiple channels spend three times more on average than of customers who engage in just one.

3. Customer Loyalty is an illusion.

With sign-ups at every store, shoppers often find themselves with more loyalty cards on their key rings than keys. That means tremendous volumes of customer data for merchants (although every year in the United States alone, 45 million people change their phone number – a key CRM identifier.[2])

However, lots of data does not equal lots of loyalty. The comfort of data volume is a false sense of security. Customers grow less loyal, for example, when they receive inconsistent discounts and offers, wrongfully addressed mailings, or – no communication at all.

Retailers need to make sure that they are not taking their CRM database for granted; this begins by treating it like a prospect list. It’s time to focus on delivering the best possible customer experience to keep them coming back.

So how can you be proactive and win back customers again and again?

First, gain a deep understanding of your customer’s needs and buying history. Combine your CRM and online data with in-store purchase history to get a complete view of your customers, which sales to attribute to which campaigns, and what to offer.

Next, personalize the experience for each unique customer at every touch point. Whether they engage with you online, in store or on the phone, show them you know who they are and that they are a valued customer.

Finally, measure the results of your efforts to understand what’s working and maximize your ROI.

Never take your customers for granted by assuming that they are fixed assets.Customers can be there today and be gone tomorrow. They spend their money in a hyper-competitive, speed-of-light environment and can easily be wooed away. Every day is a competition – and every engagement is a sales opportunity.


Joe Loveless leads the Retail Market Management strategy team at Neustar, developing market offers and customer tactics to help the world’s leading retailers better serve their audience. He wrote this article for the Neustar Insights blog, where it first appeared.

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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