Your Brand Needs a Clienteling Solution. To Build or To Buy?

Experts say the benefits of using an out-of-the-box clienteling solution for your retail business include reduced costs, increased revenue, and improved customer personalization.

More and more retail businesses, particularly those with multiple locations, are understanding that a robust clienteling solution matters to scaling your business. The right personalization strategies reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC) by 50%, deliver 5-8x marketing spend efficiency, and the biggest win: increase revenue by over 10%. The trick is to do it en masse.

This heavy lift is exactly why over 90% of companies with more than 11 employees use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, according to BuyerZone (via econsultancy). CRMs make it much easier for retail teams to automate email segmentation and campaigns, keep track of relevant customer data, including preferences that drive clienteling, and provide actionable analytics to improve the weak spots in your marketing & sales cycles.

The Cost & ROI of a CRM Solution

So it’s obvious that CRM platforms are necessary. But isn’t it expensive to buy an out-of-the-box option?

Some retail brands may feel this way. After all, a clienteling solution is all about real relationships with your customers, and who knows your customers better than your own team? 

That’s the nature of personalization. It works - having 2-way conversations over email or SMS, curating products for targeted segments of your audience, and offering that intimate shopping experience that drives loyalty is not a task that you can prompt ChatGPT to take care of while you kick your feet up (at least, not yet!).

Creating an in-house clienteling platform with everything you need is an appealing option at first glance, especially for brands that already have great developers who are used to building proprietary solutions.

However, there are some drawbacks that are worth weighing before getting started.

Firstly, the cost of developing in-house software is expensive. Although software that you own and control may be great, it is typically prohibitively expensive for all but the largest enterprise brands. According to uptech, the average range of software development costs between $50,000 to $250,000.

And that’s only considering the initial development cost. The second issue comes with maintenance. In-house software needs to be constantly maintained, upgraded, and, ideally, expanded. This can cost between $5000 to $50,000 a month.

JP Grace, Chief Technology Officer at Endear, weighed in the build vs. buy dilemma with his own experience:
"During my tenure at AB InBev as Global Director of Engineering, I witnessed the pitfalls of custom-built platforms. Custom platforms were a drain on time and money, and couldn’t keep up with brands’ needs. Without fail, purchasing solutions outperformed them."

Buying Your Clienteling Solution Includes Additional Benefits

The performace of out-of-the-box solutions is often better than building in-house because with subscription software customers pay a flat rate for a large package of features as well as future updates. To build just one feature – say an emailing platform – would already be a headache to develop and maintain. Yet a great CRM offers:

  • Automated Mass Email and SMS
  • Audience Segmentation
  • Sales Attribution
  • Retail Store Analytics
  • Customer Data Platform
  • Curated Product Recommendations

Each feature is constantly improving due to “the wisdom of the crowd” as a platform like Endear surveys current customers to debug, improve, and create new extensions of the software. Because Endear has access to thousands of retail brands, we know the trends of the marketplace and what retailers are looking for in their CRM.

An example of this are Endear Recipes, which are pre-built messaging templates to automate and facilitate customer outreach. These were created from the best practices gleaned across all our clients, and are resources of shared actionable knowledge.

Also, because a solution like Endear was built with compliance in mind, messages don’t go to your customer’s SPAM folder. The CRM manages audience opt-in and the messaging platform is fully CAN-SPAM compliant in order to ensure delivery of every email.

Finally, an out-of-the-box solution has the major benefit of being mobile. Endear clienteling is accessible by your entire team from a smartphone, with a tried and tested app that can help your team provide service from the sales floor or snap pictures and text them to customers on the fly. Developing a mobile version of an in-house CRM can be a huge additional expense not covered by the estimates above! JP says the answer is clear, "Opt for ready-made, adaptable, and cost-effective solutions and reserve custom capabilities for core competencies only; buying is the way to go."

Buying is the Right Choice

Today’s retail brands need to move quickly on personalized marketing efforts in order to compete with their peers. Building an in-house clienteling platform is expensive and a less agile option compared to buying a pre-built CRM.

In fact, a good CRM solution will literally pay for itself. Studies have shown that the ROI of a typical CRM is $8.71 to every dollar spent. Endear’s own data across all clients shows an ever higher ROI, returning 64X the cost of a subscription. You can check out our ever-growing collection of case studies that show the stellar results of our clients including increased message open rates, revenue, and ROI.

Or, you can book a free demo with the Endear team to see how our clienteling software can pay for itself while increasing revenue for your retail brand.