Most retail management software integrates a robust point-of-sale system—which automates customer transactions and captures important data like contact information, buying history, and interests—but your retail management software shouldn’t stop there. Used effectively, retail management software will help you follow your customers every step of the way, from pre-sale, to point-of-sale, to follow-up.
The marketing department does not, or at least should not, operate in isolation. To be effective, the marketing staff needs reliable information about customer trends and demographics. Because retail management software is by nature an enterprise system, it has tools extending far beyond the point-of-sale that the marketing department can leverage. For example, retail management software can be used to identify potential cross-sells and up-sells for each item that can then be displayed at the point of sale. And it doesn’t stop there! Retail management software helps you use that same cross-sell and up-sell information to create special promotions targeted at customers in direct mail or email campaigns after their purchase of the initial item.
Retail management software and point-of-sale software will automatically gather a great deal of information, and it’s easy to compile data on customer history like buying trends, etc. If you’re in an online retail environment, capturing email addresses is also straightforward. But in-store, many customers pay in cash, and acquiring identifying information on those customers can be challenging. Nonetheless, it is important to attempt to do so, and it will broaden your marketing base as a result.
A perfect example can be seen in supermarkets, where many customers now have value cards that they scan with every purchase, regardless of payment method. This gives the supermarket the ability to track each transaction, gather relevant metrics, and create both targeted direct mail campaigns and point-of-sale campaigns like register coupons that match the items purchased. Any retailer can duplicate that success by offering incentives to the customer to provide their contact information. Customers can be encouraged to sign up for a newsletter with a store discount, or be encouraged to follow the store’s Twitter stream to receive up-to-the-minute information on late-breaking specials.
With the ability to gather a substantial amount of information at the point of sale, it is incumbent on the retailer to do something with all that information. Through retail management software, retailers can create a vast database that includes not only contact information, but buying history, preferences and more. This information is ideal for creating targeted offers that can be distributed through direct mail or email marketing initiatives. Targeted offers tend to have much higher conversion rates simply because you are offering customers a product that you know they want—for example, consider customers that have purchased inkjet printers. They may be interested in your latest sale on inkjet cartridges, and surprisingly, these associations are not always immediately evident. But with the right retail management software, you’re always aware of the opportunities.
Social media and blogs, though they began as social tools used by individuals, are now highly relevant to the retail environment. Twitter is no longer just used for keeping your friends and relatives up to date on where you are eating dinner—it is used increasingly by retailers to keep customers apprised of special deals and promotions, and a lot of retail management software offers social media support.