How Retailers Can Win with a Customer-Centric Approach

Discover why price wars are a race to the bottom and how retailers who prioritise personalisation and seamless experiences always come out on top.
Price wars retail salesforce marketing cloud

The retail landscape is littered with cautionary tales. Brands that prioritised price wars over customer experience ultimately found themselves edged out by online giants and innovative competitors. The rise of e-commerce forced a reckoning for traditional retailers. Many mistakenly viewed online competition solely through the lens of price, resorting to unsustainable discounts. This approach neglected a fundamental truth: customers crave more than low prices. They value exceptional service, personalised interactions, and a seamless shopping experience across all channels.

 

CRM platforms, like Salesforce, offer immense potential to address these customer needs. However, a common pitfall exists. Businesses can get caught up in the allure of the technology itself, neglecting the crucial human element. Successful CRM implementation hinges on a “value mindset.” It’s not just about the software; it’s about understanding how to leverage it to create value for your customers.

Price Wars: A Cautionary Tale

Remember the fate of once-dominant brands like Toys R Us? Brands like this struggled to adapt to the changing retail landscape, prioritising short-term gains through price cuts over building long-term customer loyalty. Their decline is a stark reminder of the dangers of prioritising price wars over customer experience.

As online retailers like Amazon disrupted the market, many traditional retailers fell into a reactive trap, slashing prices in a desperate attempt to compete. This race to the bottom proved unsustainable, eroding profit margins and forcing cuts in crucial areas like customer service and staff training.

This approach alienates customers. It fails to address the core value proposition of online retailers – convenience. Consumers flocked to e-commerce platforms for easy browsing, efficient checkout processes, and broader product selection, not just marginally lower prices. Traditional retailers, caught in a price war mentality, missed the bigger picture: their customers’ evolving needs and expectations.

 

  • PwC reports that a staggering 32% of customers say they will walk away from a brand they love after only one unpleasant experience, highlighting the high cost of neglecting customer service.

The Rise of the Customer: Experience is King

The rise of e-commerce wasn’t just about convenience; it marked a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour. Customers became more empowered, with access to a wealth of information and a more comprehensive range of choices. They expected a seamless shopping experience, whether they interacted with a brand online or in-store. A Zendesk report highlights that 80% of customers say a company’s experience is just as necessary as its products or services.

This new reality demands a customer-centric approach. Retailers must move beyond transactional interactions and focus on building long-term customer relationships. This means:

Understanding Your Customer

In today’s data-driven world, understanding your customers is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. Retailers must gather and analyse customer data across all touchpoints – online browsing behaviour, in-store purchases, loyalty program interactions, and social media engagement. This data provides invaluable insights into customer preferences, buying habits, and pain points.

Personalisation is Key

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns. Customers expect personalised experiences tailored to their specific needs and interests. By leveraging customer data, retailers can personalise product recommendations, offer targeted promotions, and deliver relevant content across all channels. In conjunction with Segment, a Twilio report found that 85% of consumers are likelier to do business with a company that offers personalised experiences.

Building Emotional Connections

Price may be a factor, but it’s not the only one. Customers form emotional connections with brands that resonate with their values and offer a positive shopping experience. Retailers can build these connections by creating a welcoming in-store environment, delivering exceptional customer service, and supporting causes their customers care about.

Technology as a Tool: Unlocking Value with Salesforce

Technology plays a vital role in this customer-centric approach. CRM platforms like Salesforce offer a powerful suite of tools that can help retailers gather customer data, personalise interactions, and streamline operations. However, as mentioned earlier, more than technology is needed. The key lies in using these tools effectively to create real value for your customers.

 

Here’s how a value-driven approach with Salesforce can empower retailers to transform transactional interactions into opportunities to build customer loyalty.

Personalised Experiences

Salesforce allows retailers to leverage customer data to gain insights into individual preferences and buying habits. This data can personalise product recommendations, tailor marketing campaigns, and deliver relevant content across all channels. Imagine a scenario where a customer browsing for athletic wear on a retailer’s website clicks on a specific brand of running shoes. Salesforce can capture this data and trigger an automated email campaign showcasing that particular brand alongside complementary items like socks, energy gels, or water bottles. This targeted approach feels less like an impersonal advertisement and more like a helpful suggestion, fostering a more positive customer experience.

Here’s how a value-driven approach with Salesforce can empower retailers to transform transactional interactions into opportunities to build customer loyalty.

Building Trust through Transparency

Consumers are increasingly wary of intrusive marketing tactics and data breaches. Building trust is paramount for fostering long-term customer loyalty. Salesforce empowers retailers to be transparent about their data collection practices and how customer information is used. Furthermore, features like consent management tools allow customers to control the type of communication they receive, ensuring a permission-based approach. This transparency builds trust and strengthens the customer-brand relationship.

Seamless Omnichannel Experience

Modern customers expect a seamless shopping experience regardless of the channel they use. Salesforce acts as a central hub, integrating data from online stores, physical locations, and mobile apps. This allows retailers to provide a unified experience where a customer’s purchase history, loyalty program points, and wishlists are accessible across all touchpoints. Imagine a customer who researches a product online and then visits a physical store to try it. With Salesforce integration, a store associate can access the customer’s online browsing history and preferences, allowing them to provide personalised recommendations and ensure a smooth buying journey.

Empowering Employees, Delighting Customers

Technology is a powerful tool, but the human touch sets customer experiences apart. Salesforce empowers employees with the tools and information they need to deliver exceptional service. Sales associates can access detailed customer profiles within Salesforce, allowing them to greet customers by name, reference past purchases, and offer personalised recommendations. Customer service representatives can leverage past interactions to resolve inquiries quickly and efficiently. This level of empowerment allows employees to focus on building genuine connections with customers, fostering loyalty and advocacy

The Loyalty Loop: Building Long-Term Value with Customers

Focusing on personalised experiences and building customer trust opens the door to a powerful concept – the loyalty loop. This cyclical process strengthens customer relationships, driving increased engagement, sales, and advocacy. Here’s how retailers can leverage a customer-centric approach to cultivate loyalty:

Rewarding Engagement

Loyalty programs are a cornerstone of customer retention, but more than simply offering points or discounts is needed. Design programs that reward a variety of customer behaviours – not just purchases. Points can be awarded for social media engagement, product reviews, or attending in-store events. This encourages deeper connections with your brand and fosters a sense of community.

Prioritising Convenience

Frictionless experiences are essential in today’s fast-paced world. Offer features like convenient buy-online-pick-up-in-store options (BOPIS), mobile app integration for easy browsing and purchases, and efficient self-checkout options for a speedy transaction.

Empowering Feedback

Actively solicit customer feedback through surveys, polls, and social media interactions. You can use this information to identify areas for improvement and tailor your offerings to meet customer needs better. Responding promptly to feedback demonstrates that you value customer input and are committed to continuous improvement.

Content as a Catalyst

Content marketing is a powerful tool for building brand loyalty. Create informative blog posts, engaging social media content, and helpful videos that address customer pain points and showcase your expertise. Offer educational content beyond simply promoting products, positioning yourself as a trusted resource for your customers.

Advocacy in Action

Turn satisfied customers into brand ambassadors. Develop a referral program that incentivises customers to recommend your brand to friends and family. Positive word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to acquire new customers and build brand trust.

 

Retailers can unlock long-term success by shifting from a discount-driven approach to a customer-centric strategy. Focusing on building emotional connections, delivering personalised experiences, and empowering employees with the right tools fosters customer loyalty and advocacy. Technology like Salesforce plays a vital role in this transformation, but the human touch truly sets customer experiences apart. Investing in customer relationships and cultivating a loyalty loop is the key to thriving in today’s competitive retail landscape.

Picture of Gabrielle Koberg

Gabrielle Koberg

This article was written by Gabrielle Koberg, an expert in retail. Gabby has extensive experience in the Salesforce ecosystem, having been a Solution Engineer at Salesforce and a Business and Sales Lead at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, which is now part of VML Consulting.

Gabby has a deep understanding of Salesforce products and their applications, enabling her to help brands maximise growth in their digital initiatives. Her unique background, blending her experience at Salesforce with her consultancy expertise, allows her to effectively leverage the potential of Salesforce solutions, providing customers with custom strategic solutions that offer unparalleled value.

Beyond her professional achievements, Gabby fervently advocates diversity and inclusion within the tech sphere. Holding a master’s degree in Gender, Policy, and Inequalities from LSE, she is deeply committed to shaping an inclusive industry landscape.

At Pracedo, we’re not just Salesforce Consultants. We’re the driving force behind innovation, change, and visionary solutions dedicated to boosting revenue. Our mission is to redefine the customer journey by simplifying processes and helping people to work smarter, not harder. Our purpose is to create a lasting impact on people, organisations, and communities, all powered by the capabilities of Salesforce.

Our recent acquisition by Collabera Digital, marked a significant milestone in our journey of growth and innovation. This exciting new chapter promises to propel us forward in our mission to redefine excellence in the industry globally across the EMEA and APAC regions.

Tags: Personalisation, Data, Marketing, Customer Journeys, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Salesforce Personalization

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