Retail CRM: Why and How to Use One to Grow your Business

Notebook and coffee

Learn what is unique about a CRM for retail and why it’s critical for you to roll one out for your retail sales team. 

What is a Retail CRM?

A CRM, or customer relationship management system, is a software system that organizes all your business’s customers and leads so that you can easily stay in touch with them in a trackable way. A good CRM tool is critical to any business, but most CRM software is geared toward a business-to-business (B2B) model, which revolves around a long-format sales cycle that typically requires a deal pipeline. 

A retail CRM, on the other hand, is optimized to help support the high frequency, repeat purchasing of a business-to-consumer (B2C) model. Good retail CRM software will provide insights on when it’s best to reach out to a specific customer again and what the customer is likely looking for. For example, Endear’s CRM solution informs its users about a customer’s lifetime spend and their average order value (AOV), along with a thorough omnichannel order history so that sales associates know what to focus on in their outreach. 

As you’re deciding on what CRM you want to use for your business, it’s important to first think about what sort of data and workflows your sales team needs in order to do their jobs easily and efficiently.

A retail CRM is optimized to support the high frequency, repeat purchasing of a business-to-consumer (B2C) model. A good retail CRM will provide insights on when it’s best to reach out to a specific customer again and what the customer is likely looking for.

Retail CRM Benefits

Have you ever tracked your customers and their contact information in a Google Sheet? If so, you’ve built a customer database and created customer profiles without even knowing it. Many small businesses do this, and some even use their POS as a stand-in for a CRM. 

While these strategies may work in the early days, eventually you’ll find yourself with something quite unwieldy or unreliable. That’s when you’ll want to find a software solution that is designed to help you manage all your customer data in an actionable way. 

There are a number of benefits to introducing a CRM into your retail stores. Moreover, equipping your sales team with this kind of tool will likely result in a much better customer experience than your competitors offer. 

Below are some key ways to take advantage of your CRM.

For Clienteling

We’ve written a ton about clienteling in the past—that’s because clienteling is one of the strongest strategies when it comes to increasing customer retention and building loyalty. 

As we explain in our definition of clienteling, clienteling refers to the process of efficiently using customer data in order to create intimate customer relationships. While clienteling is easy on a small scale with just a handful of customers, you’ll get dramatically better results if you’re using a CRM to build these kinds of relationships because you’ll be able to target a wider audience without sacrificing personalization. 

customer profile example

For Loyalty

While new customers are always the goal, customer loyalty should also be celebrated. In fact, a retail CRM can serve you best once you’ve acquired a customer and are ready to focus on cultivating loyalty. A CRM should be your go-to resource for understanding what sort of incentives and rewards your customers are most likely to respond to, and can help you keep track of what their response has been to your various offers and services. As you develop your retention strategy, you should also be able to count on your CRM to actually segment your customers to determine who is eligible for your various perks, tiers, and prizes that make up your loyalty program

For Personalization

Which brings us to a third benefit of a CRM—personalization. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to get opened, and the more targeted you are with your audience, the higher your conversion rate on messages will be. 

A CRM can help you achieve both those things. The more data you’re tracking in your CRM, the more you’ll be able to segment and personalize your audience to ensure that the content of your message feels ultra-relevant to the final group of recipients.

For Performance Tracking

Especially for big organizations, CRMs are particularly helpful for management teams who want to stay on top of how each salesperson is contributing. With most CRMs, users are able to “claim” a customer or a deal, and this aspect is no different for retail. 

Encouraging your salespeople to be accountable for customers’ spending behaviors will motivate them to be even more thoughtful and strategic about their work and the way they reach out. A CRM will also therefore be able to report back how each salesperson has impacted your bottom line, whether that’s on a per-transaction basis or across their customers. 

sales performance dashboard

For Customer Support

It goes without saying that a retail CRM can help you better serve and support your customers, both new and returning. Oftentimes there can be a disconnect between what your digital team knows and what your retail team knows about a customer - that’s where having an omnichannel CRM can truly make a difference. The more your whole team can be on the same page about a customer’s various interactions, the happier she will be when she needs support and doesn’t have to start from scratch with someone who knows nothing about her past. Leveraging a CRM as a way to document a customer’s preferences will result in service a customer will remember and cherish. isn’t starting from scratch.   

How to Use a Retail CRM

A CRM should provide your sales team with an all-in-one solution so that they are not relying on multiple resources to accomplish the most fundamental tasks. The purpose of a CRM system is to give the entire team a comprehensive view of a customer’s entire journey, including all customer interactions with your company, so that they can look broadly at what’s been going on but also dive into the nitty gritty when necessary. 

In order to achieve this 360º view, your CRM needs to provide a way for users to store data and then analyze this data for you. Below is a breakdown of how a single user should be able to move through a CRM in order to accomplish his or her goals. 

Update Customer Data

The first step in a salesperson's process is determining who to contact and why. The more data they have access to in order to make this decision, the better. A CRM should ideally get you started by helping you with contact management in a way that's automated, such as by integrating with your e-commerce or POS systems like Endear does. 

Having these sources populate your CRM in real-time will take unnecessary work off your team’s plate and also ensure that no opportunity falls through the cracks. Your team should also be able to enhance these records with their own intel that they may have gathered through an in-person meeting or a phone call. 

Your CRM should also take care of keeping all this data updated for you. Nothing is scarier than unreliable data, especially if you’re using it to decide what to say to a retail customer or what flow to enter them into. The more you can count on your CRM to manage your data for you, the more time you can dedicate to the tasks that require a truly human touch.  

customer CRM database

Message Your Customers

As we’ve learned, personalization has a very positive effect on conversion—but it can also require more time and effort. Your CRM should help you to reach customers more easily without having to sacrifice this impactful personal touch. 

A CRM should also provide you with insights about your outreach that most standard communication channels won’t, such as which recipients are opening and interacting with your messages. You can then use this data to better understand who you ought to follow up with, and ensure you’re not letting important customers get away. Most CRMs will also provide you with various channels (such as email, text, or social media) from one centralized platform, which again reduces friction as you go about your day. 

conversation in the endear app

Manage Assets

A big part of any sales organization is the collateral you put together to support your sales process. For B2B businesses, that might be a deck or one-page overview of your product. For retail, that might be a digital invite to an event or a lookbook of recommendations to help customers determine what they want to buy next. 

It’s important that your entire sales team have easy access to these resources, and that these resources are easy to upload, share, and leverage as part of outreach. If your CRM can automate the import of key assets such as your product inventory, your team will be in even better shape. 

database of images

Collaborate with Your Team

Especially when it comes to outreach, it’s important that everyone on your sales team is aware of what everyone is working on and no one is stepping on anyone else’s toes. The last thing you want is for a customer to receive the same message from multiple people at your company. 

That’s why it’s important for your CRM to keep track of everyone’s activity and enable users to communicate with one another. For example, in Endear’s retail CRM, any user can comment on a customer’s profile or leave a task for someone else on the team related to that customer. Especially if you have different management levels as part of your organization, managers will want to make sure they can direct their team’s attention to critical tasks.

Optimize Your Strategy

As the writer Terry Pratchett wrote, “If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going.” 

The entire purpose of being able to track every detail in your CRM is to use that customer information to figure out how you and your team can improve. With your CRM features, you should be able to answer questions like, “Which kinds of customers respond best to my texts?” or “Which products is this audience most interested in?” While a CRM can help you answer those questions, it’s still on you to dedicate the time to asking them. In this area in particular, your CRM should serve as an extra set of hands on your team, helping you to determine how you can continue to improve performance across the board.

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going.” - Terry Pratchett

The Best Retail CRMs to Consider for Your Business

CRM is still a relatively new concept for the retail industry, despite its popularity in other spaces. Here’s a list of CRMs worth considering.

1. Endear

As far as we’re aware, Endear is actually the only omnichannel CRM designed specifically for the retail space. In fact, most Google searches for such a product typically yields a list of POS (point-of-sale) platforms—not the same thing

Though retail associates have always cared deeply about their relationships with customers, few retail organizations have actually provided them with the tools to efficiently manage these relationships and expand them beyond a core few customers. That’s why we built Endear. Especially with the growing popularity of e-commerce, it’s more important than ever that your salespeople be able to maintain relationships over remote channels rather than only through face-to-face interactions. 

Endear app homepage

2. Airtable

If you’re looking for something lightweight and customizable, Airtable is a great option for getting started. You can build a variety of formats using their templates so that your CRM is uniquely built to fit your team’s needs. Airtable is a bit more sophisticated than a Google Sheet so it can serve as a good stepping stone if you’re trying to implement a CRM for free.

3. Copper

If your store associates are using Gmail to email with customers already, Copper might be a good direction to follow. While your messages will still be sent through Gmail, Copper covers other critical aspects of a good retail CRM such as tasks, reporting, and contact organization, and it can also help you send bulk email marketing messages through your connected address.

4. Keap

Keap is a great option if you’re trying to scale your outreach. Their automation and message triggers will help you stay on top of customers and make sure that your users are not responsible for remembering who to follow up with. They also support texting and calling, so if your customers are particularly fond of their mobile device, this option may be right for you.

5. Hubspot

Hubspot is one of the most robust CRM’s on the market—the platform can pretty much do anything you want it to when it comes to customer management and tracking. HubSpot even integrates with some e-commerce platforms so that you can view a customer’s purchase history within the mobile app. Keep in mind though that HubSpot has limited capabilities when it comes to attributing sales to users and reporting conversions.

Endear is by far the most robust retail CRM solution on the market. Not only does it help your retail team stay connected with your customers through thoughtfully-tracked data, but it also empowers your associates to own and improve their own sales efforts. Try Endear for free for 14 days.