As is the case with multichannel integration, customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that’s been around for years yet too few retailers appear to be practicing it.

As is the case with multichannel integration, customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that’s been around for years yet too few retailers appear to be practicing it.

If you buy online from a swathe of retailers including John Lewis and La Redoute, you receive either generic emails or, in the worst case, emails promoting products you’ll never buy.

I once received an email from John Lewis pushing ladies’ beauty products. While I dare say my looks might improve with a bit of blusher, my propensity to purchase said products is rather low.

My experience of distance-selling began with direct mail catalogues. Back then we always segmented our customers based on criteria including recency, frequency and value (RFV). We did our best to model the likelihood or propensity of customers to make a purchase and in part we did that by sending targeted communication that bore a correlation to what the customer had bought and to what we thought they might be likely to buy.

Why have so many retailers not set up their database to send customers some form of personalised email or taken steps to implement a single customer view, where they are able to see all of the customer’s purchases and behaviour in one place so they can leverage that insight to their advantage?

I recently came across a new acronym, SRM (shopper relationship marketing). I like it as it implies marketing is personal and targeted based on someone’s behaviour in terms of the channel they’re buying through, when they’re making a purchase and what they’re buying.

French grocer Casino is leveraging its knowledge of customer behaviour by pinging them an offer on their smartphone when they are in the store to switch to its own-brand of cornflakes. Or remind them that they’re running out of coffee filters.

That’s behavioural, it’s personal and most importantly it’s relevant and timely.

And Casino obviously recognises that it’s far more cost-effective to retain a customer than it is to recruit a new one. That’s what I call ‘smart relationship marketing’.

  • Martin Newman, Chief executive, Practicology