Alain Damond
À savoir | 9 mai

CRM is dead, long live RRM
Retail Relationship Marketing is the future of user experience.

 © DR / American Empirical Pictures
‘Ladies and gentlemen, give a round of applause to our newest and hippest acronym: R.R.M!’ – ‘Retail Relationship Marketing’.
Behind this umpteenth abbreviation lies a new challenge for a rising number of retailers, especially luxury and premium brands: sales associates are playing an increasingly important role in building customer loyalty directly from a specific point of sale. The gravity center of the customer-brand relationship has moved from the HQ’s to the store itself…
Think back 20 years – we’re in the 90s, loyalty programs are booming. Obviously, they’re a success. Thanks to them, consumers are spending bigger and more frequently. As a result, 98% of the French population owned a loyalty card in 2013 – and nearly half of them owned more than 5…
The problem is that loyalty programs are starting to lose momentum: they’re too numerous, too similar, too slow. They’re disembodied as well. The digital and smartphone era has begun. Consumers increasingly expect to build ‘hyper-personal’ relationships – and that’s what CRM should deliver… in theory.
Culturally, luxury stores stay one step ahead. Think of Olga Berluti, she used to write down her clients’ preferences in a notebook and knew every single one of them personally. A Grand Vendeur at a High-Jewelry Maison is just like Mr. Gustav of The Grand Budapest Hotel – he knows each client’s tastes and expectations perfectly which enables him to deliver the best level of service… without the folklore.
Now, the real challenge for retailers is to go one step further and create personal relationships with more than just a few VIP customers – without compromising on quality. There are several ways to do it.
Sales associates at Burberry and Saks Fifth Avenue have been equipped with tablets, giving them access to personalized customer data such as purchase history and preferences. Neiman Marcus introduced a mobile app enabling customers to communicate with a sales associate before or after the purchase, by text, email or video call…
This new role has raised some issues, besides an obvious need for new tools. Skills come first. Selling and telling stories about a brand or a product don’t require the same skills as building a strong and durable relationship with a customer.
Then comes a client distribution challenge: which rules should be applied to split customer’s responsibility between stores and sales associates – given that luxury customers travel more and more and purchase from a rising number of points of sales across the globe? Setting up a remuneration system may even be trickier as it should not only reward immediate sales but also the quality of a relationship - which can be difficult to measure. These topics are very complex to handle, especially as sales tend to also happen online. An extreme example would be Apple, who chooses not to reward its associates on a percentage of sales.
Finally, staff cannot build and nurture a relationship without creating relevant content and a personalized offer to reward customers and differentiate from competition – in fact, an exclusive invitation to the launching of a new collection in store, sipping on a glass of champagne, may not longer be enough.
Retailers must find ways to build their own marketing content, staying in line with the brand and its heritage, but also triggering enough excitement to appeal to today’s over-stimulated customers. A rock concert (Burberry), a fitness class or a running event (Nike), multimedia and multi-sensorial experiences (Lange & Söhne, Brook Brothers), Master Classes (IWC), a birthday private event in store (Kiehl’s)…
The store is transforming into a place where emotions and experience emerge, where there is always something going on, and where the sales associate becomes a true ‘Retail Relationship Manager”… with or without the acronym.
Alain Damond
Directeur MADnetwork London
Alain Damond a plus de 15 d’expérience au sein d'agences de communication CRM et digitales, à Paris, Londres et New York. Il a rejoint en 2014 le cabinet de conseil MADnetwork, expert en retail et expérience client pour les marques de luxe, premium et les department stores.
Crédits photo : DR / American Empirical Pictures
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