We think it’s time for a true retail Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. One system that is the master dataset for all customer related data. This pretty much means almost all data collected by modern data commerce/retail companies. If you really think about it, pretty much every data point you have relates back to a customer. We’ve been heads down focused on how to collect, store, and action better on customer data across our various eCommerce businesses and the businesses of our clients. At a very high level, it goes something like this:
The more you know about your customer, the more targeted your messaging to those customers can be.
What can you do with Customer Data?
Among many more benefits, you can also build fantastic loyalty programs on great customer data. But what exactly do you mean when you say “messaging”. Are you talking about outbound marketing communication? Or perhaps we’re talking about customer service reps talking to customers? There are several channels through which retailers communicate with their customers. This is a universal truth no matter the size of the merchant. What isn’t universal is the idea that there should be one system where all customer data lives, a proper CRM platform. That’s historically been something for the huge/enterprise guys.
“One View” of the Customer
Ultimately we’re chasing this idea of “one view” of the customer. The questions have been mostly about where this data should live. Pretty much all software providers are raising their hand, stating that their system is the best place for this comprehensive customer dataset. Everyone from email marketing to analytics platforms have the ability to contain many customer data points. I’d even argue that it is in their best interest to get as much data on your customers as possible as it makes them better at what they do. But are these tools the right place? Is it in the best interest of the merchant to have so much critical data in one of these platforms?
We’ve had more conversations than I can count over the years, all around some version of this challenge. If all of our customer data is living in all of these different platforms, which one is the ultimate master? Once you start stacking up software platforms that all integrate to each other, you end up with a giant web of systems that contain multiple copies of the same data.
Heck, there are some software companies that try and be the “one system” that does everything because the idea is quite compelling to a lot of companies. My problem with this approach is these “all-in-one” systems generally aren’t great at any one thing, but good to marginally o-k at many things.
So where does this leave us?
Currently we’re experimenting with a number of approaches. The most promising of which is using an open source eCommerce CRM platform by the name of ORO CRM.
There are a few key reasons we are bullish on this particular CRM option for our clients, not least of which is how easy / nice it is to build on. It also doesn’t hurt that ORO is offering a SaaS and self-hosted option, giving us some flexibility in how we position this platform amongst the others we work with.
So if you are a merchant, what are you doing for CRM? Ask yourself, Is it a critical path platform? Is having a CRM something that’s high on your ever growing list of priorities?