Using a ‘more than marketing’ approach integrates marketing platforms with supply chain to provide more personalised marketing and better track ROI.
Most retailers know that personalised marketing is key to gaining brand loyalty and repeat sales among increasingly fickle consumers. But how personal are tactics like email newsletters, really? Retailers will find themselves unable to deliver truly personal customer experiences unless they integrate their marketing platforms with real-time data from their supply chain.
Standard channels like social media and email are no longer sufficient when it comes to creating these experiences. Personalised marketing requires information on consumer preferences, buying habits and personal data (such as location and demography). Those retailers who have a strategy for capturing this data, typically focus on metrics available from websites, e-commerce platforms, and other basic online sources. These include e-commerce order histories, website click-through rates, or (in the case of marketing automation systems) how consumers interact with ads on search or social media.
While useful, these still provide at best, an incomplete profile of retail customers. E-commerce data is typically siloed from data about sales in physical stores, which is notoriously difficult to match with any one customer. Measurements like site visits and ad click-throughs often incorrectly represent customers’ actual intent: according to some estimates, up to 50 percent of mobile advertising clicks are accidental. Without real-time visibility into inventory information, even the most attractive offers can backfire when high demand depletes stock and customers’ patience.
To engage customers on a truly personal level, retailers have to adopt a ‘more than marketing’ approach across all engagement channels. Standard marketing touchpoints need to be connected to supply chain and logistics data, allowing retailers to customise communications based on real demand trends in specific locations, stores, or customer accounts. A ‘more than marketing’ approach to marketing acknowledges that the customer experience goes well beyond digital channels and is intrinsically tied up with the supply chain of any retailer.
Customers: More than just numbers
What does this ‘more than marketing’ approach look like? When marketing and ERP platforms are fully integrated, a customer may go into a store to buy a certain product and from that point on, receive email offers for accessories, replacement parts, or services related to that specific product.
The objective should not be to entice customers to buy more products, but to give them what they’re most likely to require now or in the future. In the case of clothing purchases, this might be matching accessories; in the case of electronics or whitegoods, it may be maintenance and value-added services; and so on. The fundamentals of customer service have not changed: combining supply-chain data and omnichannel demand generation simply allows retailers to address them in a far more scalable manner.
How can retailers make their customer experiences more personal with a ‘more than marketing’ approach?
ERP and marketing: Supply and demand
Adopting a highly compatible collaboration between ERP and marketing automation software is a good start. Out-of-the-box integration means that retailers need to spend less time calibrating their marketing apparatus and focus more on which customer pain points to target. The fully integrated combination of Netsuite’s ERP software and marketing automation platform Bronto, for example, has boosted email-driven revenues by up to 60 percent for retailers — many of them smaller businesses with relatively limited resources and technology budgets.
Next is identifying what supply chain metrics will reveal the most about customers’ personal wants and needs. Some retailers may want to segment customers by order details, size and delivery location; others may be more focused on product popularity or opportunities to value-add, based on inventory trends and correlations between product purchases. In general, a combination of granular and macro customer tendencies will be most effective when calibrating any marketing engagement.
Finally, retailers should ready themselves to adjust their ‘more than marketing’ processes based on their tangible sales results. Integrating supply chains with marketing platforms means that ROI is easier to track than ever before, whether it be for online shopping-cart completions or in-store redemption of personalised coupons. Retailers should avoid the temptation to sit back and let automation do the work: regular monitoring, tweaking, and testing is essential to ensure that engagements reflect real-life customer habits and preferences.
This is particularly true when expanding retail operations into new markets, something that cloud-based marketing automation and ERP systems make easier than ever before. A new market may bring with it new inventory, fulfilment and even cultural pressures (like a need for higher touch service) on existing resources. It may also bring new opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling that make even better use of stock levels worldwide.
For today’s retailers, marketing can no longer be an isolated business function. It has to be connected to the supply chain to deliver truly personalised customer experiences. While marketing automation software and ERP systems offer more sophisticated means of doing so than ever before, the fundamental principle is the same: matching supply to demand.