Wholesalers & Distributors

Successful Customer Planning Strategies

Nothing is more valuable to a business than understanding its customers
Photograph: Shutterstock

Jack Welch famously said, “There are only two sources of competitive advantage: the ability to learn more about our customers faster than the competition and the ability to turn that learning into action faster than the competition”. Retailers who truly understand their customers can offer solutions which enhance customer experience and engagement. The key to a successful customer planning strategy is capturing and leveraging data to implement these solutions.

While every retailer envisions growing sales, getting from sales goals to achievement can be difficult. Many retailers lose focus on recognizing growth areas where the business can expand, particularly among specific customer groups. Developing a long-term customer strategy enables a faster, more efficient achievement of the overall sales strategy.

Even with a customer strategy, creating a detailed plan and implementing it can be a challenge. Although customer data is the backbone of every successful plan, its complexity adds another layer of information to sift through which can lead to a lack of clarity resulting in frustration, and ultimately inaction.

Using customer data effectively

Customer data is helpful in creating a customer planning strategy only if it can be interpreted and ultimately serve as a guide to clear, specific actions that impact your business in a practical way. With a data-driven approach such as Aimia’s, these actions can be linked to every commercial decision that needs to be made.

When reviewing the customer data and creating a customer plan, consider three key questions that each impact a different strategy. While the questions are broad, the answers should lead to specific actions that shape the customer-experience-enhancement strategy and plan.

· Question 1: Are priority customers engaged in the business?

The answer impacts the promotions, assortment, and CRM strategy, which may need to be adjusted to ensure priority customers are being properly engaged.

· Question 2: How are customers driving retail performance?

The answer impacts the retail strategy. Perhaps the value perception that customers have regarding your grocery store does not align with your goal.

· Question 3: What roles are categories playing in the business and for customers?

The answer impacts category and brand strategy and could lead to a decision such as prioritizing “focus” categories in assortment review plans.

Determining a customer planning strategy is an ongoing process with the first step being creating measurable goals and benchmarks to determine if the customer planning strategy is having the

desired effect. The ability to recognize the impact of each element of the strategy and alter them as necessary increases the likelihood that the overall customer plan will succeed.

Grocery stores need to be agile to deal with the constantly changing market. A customer’s loyalty today is not guaranteed tomorrow. Understanding what matters to customers and offering them solutions leads to a more profitable relationship. Maximizing the relationship can only happen through the creation of a customer planning strategy that utilizes data that indicates clear and specific actions.

This post is sponsored by Aimia Intelligent Shopper Solutions