Maximising loyalty program data

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The Australian retail sector is expecting a bumper Christmas spending period this year with the National Retail Association (NRA) releasing its pre-Christmas and Boxing day trade projections that show Australians are expected to spend more than a billion dollars a day during the busiest trading period of the year.

This is great news for retailers who often rely on this busy time to boost sales, but in order to capture the attention of a (quite literally) crowded marketplace during the noisiest retail period of the year, retailers need to be savvy about consumer engagement.

Part of this is delivering news and offers that are personalised to appeal to each customer via the channels of their presence, and be rewarded for their loyalty. Loyalty programs are increasingly being adopted by organisations in order to not only better know their customers, but also equipping them to truly foster these relationships.

Can your current CRM solution support this?

Global data from Aimia showed that Australians topped the nations surveyed in their airline loyalty membership with 39 per cent compared to 11 per cent in the UK and 23 per cent in the U.S.  In fact, 87 per cent of Australians are members of at least one loyalty program, compared to an average of 85 per cent globally.

With so many Australians willing and motivated to be involved in loyalty programs - understanding the common long-term financial benefits of signing up - there's a real opportunity for local retailers to offer loyalty programs if they aren't already.

Not only do loyalty programs allow a business to learn more about their customer, and in turn provide a more relevant and personal experience with each and every interaction, but they also give the business more opportunities to speak with its customers through an extended after-sales service.  Rewarding loyal customers with relevant offers or VIP event invitations are just a couple of ways a retailer might build meaningful, long-term associations.

In order to do this effectively, retailers require a robust ERP system with business intelligence (BI) technology that includes next-generation CRM functionalities, which empowers the business to put the needs of their customers first. This fully integrated platform should be able to identify the customers that require the most attention, and recognise the actions or processes that should be created in order to provide superior customer service and drive repeat business.

We don't want to be drowning in reams of customer data, but instead be given clear visibility of new and long-term customers across multiple platforms.

The Co-op is a great example of an Australian retail business that uses a fully integrated IT system to better understand the experiences of its customers. Providing textbooks and educational resources to over one and a half million students and lecturers at over 40 university and TAFE campuses, The Co-op handles hundreds of thousands of transactions every year. It works to a co-operative business model, with 1.5million members and profits returned to members via ongoing discounts.

Using a customised IT solution, The Co-op has full, real-time visibility of its business operations and data at any point in time, allowing the team to drill down and give some meaning to its figures. For instance, if margins are low, the business can slice and dice the data to find out why, and take the appropriate action to rectify the problem. Automated Point of Sale (POS) functionality allows the company to roll out different member pricing and promotions campaigns, drawing on the company's robust CRM data. It's allowed the company to be more current, flexible and responsive in an ever-changing market, including keeping ahead of trends, such as digital publishing, online browsing and social shopping.

It's an exciting time of year for retailers, with technology allowing them to engage with customers in unique yet relevant ways – from SMS to Facebook.  By being smart about your consumer engagement program and utilising data, you can boost your opportunity to grab a bigger slice of the Christmas spending mince pie.

Chad Gates

Chad Gates

Chad Gates is the Managing Director for ERP vendor Pronto Software. @ChadinaBox

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