In Gartner’s 2018 Market Guide for CRM in Tier 1 Retail, Kelsie Marian states, “The next phase of CRM includes leveraging advanced technologies to better understand and predict customer behavior across a variety of contextual settings.” I couldn’t agree more.
I was reading Gartner’s report because Symphony RetailAI was listed as a representative vendor for our SR Personalized Marketing solution. I was struck by how Kelsie’s statement is reflected back to me almost weekly. In my job, I’m fortunate to speak to executives both within my company and outside. I’d expect our execs to promote technologies that help retailers understand customers and predict their behavior – the essence of AI-enabled customer relationship management. After all, that’s at the core of what we do. Take, for example, this recent article How to Create an Effective Personalized Marketing Strategy, by our Mike Bristol.
But as I interview retail execs and consultants from around the world, I’m hearing the same thing over and over – the only realistic way to respond to the rapidly changing demands of customers is by possessing the ability to quickly sort data into insights that can, in turn, be acted upon by the retailer to please the customer and engender customer loyalty – loyalty that can be only nurtured through a never-ending cycle of understanding, meeting needs, further understanding…
Enter artificial intelligence and machine learning.
In a recent interview I had with Ray Wang of Constellation Research, Ray discusses AI and frictionless retail. He says, “The ultimate play for AI is how it can enable mass personalization at scale.” That retailers must be rethinking how they interact with the customer to provide, personal, immersive experiences that extend beyond the sale.
The interesting thing is that the very problem many retailers face today ― excessive data ― becomes the boon to enabling AI and machine learning in an organization. The more data a retailer has, the better AI and machine learning can identify trends and the resulting customer-focused actions.
So, all of this begs the question:
Should retailers be embracing AI-enabled customer relationship management now?
Yes! Gartner’s report makes it clear that technology/algorithms for predictive analytics are essential to support successful CRM strategies, but we’ve also done our own research, Marketing 360: Personalizing the path to purchase, findings from a survey of executives at leading US retailers.
Our findings highlight that FMCG retailers continue to struggle with their key asset – customer data. Marketers are now turning their attention to AI-enabled marketing solutions to aggregate data from across the omni-channel spectrum and create predictive behavior models to help deliver smarter, faster and cheaper campaigns.
Gartner’s Market Guide for CRM in Tier 1 Retail [note: must be a Gartner client to access the guide] is very worth the read to fully understand the importance of how the right technology will enable solid customer relationship management strategy and implementation.