Technology & software

How CRM systems are helping retail businesses build back post-pandemic

The pandemic has prompted retail businesses across the globe to pivot their business models with the closure of physical stores.

This has seen retail businesses invest in digitisation and e-commerce to remain competitive by adjusting to changing consumer behaviours and preferences.

Digital isn’t new.  It has been chipping away at traditional retail for over 20 years. The pandemic forced 10 years of e-commerce adoption and consumer change in the span of just 90 days at the dawn of Covid-19 according to McKinsey research.

This has enhanced the need for retail businesses to gain access to real-time customer data, to better understand consumer habits, build stronger relationships with customers and streamline administrative processes to save time for strategic tasks.

Customers are seeking better and more intuitive digital retail experiences. Retention and loyalty are on the line like never before. As the next normal takes shape, a unique opportunity exists to get to know who your customer is becoming and innovate in a way that meets and exceeds their demands, online and in-store.

This is where a robust Customer Relationship Management system can help retail businesses build back post-pandemic. CRM software can be used to bolster the sector’s customer growth strategy, and when implemented correctly, it can bring enormous benefits.


Lockdown has birthed a new genre of digital-first, conscious consumerism, and opened the door to a new world of hybrid retail opportunities for a post-pandemic economy. Even with vaccines in circulation, an alternate retail universe continues to emerge.

The future of retail comes down to building personalisation, customer retention, being innovative and adaptable to earn loyalty. Retailers must quickly learn how to organise around customers, shift how they understand and how they attract them.

Building personalisation

This involves creating a customer 360, data-driven culture to better understand shoppers as they evolve. It means empowering digitally literate teams to reimagine physical, digital, and hybrid shopper journeys, and continually piloting promising experiences to learn what customers seek out, time and time again.

Integrating CRM software into a retailer’s online presence enables an end-to-end process and offers a complete picture of individual customers. It is the single source of truth for managing customer data, and it is stored centrally, making it easy to edit and share throughout the business.

With CRM, customers already ‘exist’ on a system. This enables sales, marketing and customer services teams to collaborate and understand the customer data, developing strategies that build personalisation to drive the best results, ensuring no quality leads are ever missed.

retail businesses CRM

Customer retention

Retailers can recreate their brand experience with a digital-first mentality. A retailer’s work with data should be designed to reimagine what the brand is for the connected consumer.  This starts with the pre-shopping experience on their app or website, looking at customer intent to optimise that visit. The experience will change depending on whether a customer wants the long and winding browse, or merely a buy online, pick-up in-store or curbside interaction.

Data is the foundation of every customer interaction. CRM empowers teams to make data-driven decisions, allowing them to react quickly in response to key insights. This knowledge enables retailers to stand out from the crowd, helping them to sell smarter, providing an exceptional experience that retains a strong customer base.

For example, with a known customer CRM tracks where they have been on the website and consolidates this information to decide whether the customer is right for a marketing push.  The automation can be set up to issue an email promotion to encourage the customer to come back within one day to buy a blouse, for example, with a ‘did you forget to buy’ email campaign pushing the customer back onto the website to complete the sale. If this doesn’t encourage the customer to return after three days another email could be set up to issue a 10% discount.

The data can be used to remember a bike a customer previously bought and any accessories. Combining this information to offer new items, for example, new tyres, bicycle pumps, is how CRM gives retail companies a competitive edge.

It means pursuing the right opportunities without wasting time and money targeting the wrong customers. Sales can re-engage customers with new offers to encourage multiple purchases as part of a 10-step annual campaign, providing new options based on modelling consumer behaviour. Engagement analytics can inform marketing what messages are working and with which audiences and opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling can be identified at pace.

Innovation, adaptability and loyalty

The pandemic’s effects will be with us for quite some time. What is for sure, is that customer-centricity, cultures of data and innovation, and the practice of creativity and discovery are critical enablers for the future of retail.

When a consistent effort is made to ensure that every interaction is valuable, customer satisfaction increases, fostering loyalty. CRM technology enables better adaptability of your customer base, ensuring they are kept satisfied.

Happy customers become loyal and trusted customers, which in turn increases recurring revenue. By having quick access to a customer’s history, teams can conduct lead-nurturing conversations by personalising engagements, so every customer feels unique.

The good news is that technology and innovation are already on our side to bring to life new experiences in-store, online and in hybrid applications. It all starts with a customer 360 perspective, creativity and imagination, and the ability to test and learn.

Ewan Mcdonald, Interim CEO, SalesAgility 

SalesAgility delivers CRM solutions to organisations of all sizes across the globe, enabling them to understand customer habits, how they may have changed as a result of the pandemic, and helping them pivot marketing activity to future proof their business.