Retailer’s objectives in implementing ‘Relationship Marketing’

Dr. Mohammed Tareque Aziz,  Associate Professor, BRAC University & Consulting Editor, Textile Today   
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Maintaining good relationship with the customers will make the retailing process much easier. Marketing practices can be traced back as far as 7000 B.C. At the later stage the primary focus of marketing evolved around the concept of transactions and exchanges. However, the development of marketing has been undergoing a re-conceptualization process in its orientation from transactions to relationships over the last few decades. Being a day-to-day practitioner of marketing principles, retailers have also been trying to adjust their marketing activities as a side by side evolution of marketing paradigms in the academic world. If we closely look into the day-to-day customer centric activities of the retailers, then we can realize that during the 80’s the retailers had the primary objectives to attract new customers in their outlets. Most of their operations were concentrated towards the set goals to welcome new customers into their stores, but as time passed they seemed to shift from this concept of attracting new customers towards retaining the existing ones. As in the retail industry, the

entrance barriers for the competitors have always been low. The retailers found out that they can get the most out of their marketing efforts by gaining new customers rather than keeping the older ones. This phenomenon has enhanced the need to adopt relationship marketing philosophies to the modern day retailers.

What should be retailer’s primary objectives?

In between thousands of day-to-day operational tasks, the retailers should never lose their target on protecting their existing customer base rather than acquiring new ones. This can be done by:

  1. Understanding the customer’s needs: Every retailer should try to offer products and services which are in demand of the customers. Displaying products which do not have any acceptance from the customers will only waste the retailer’s shelf space. Therefore, before ordering and acquiring products for the retail store, the retailer should try to identify and determine the products which have better chances of being sold. This to make sure that the purchased products can bring profits as well as regain the loyalty of the customers towards the company.
  2. Appreciating customer’s demands: There are several ways can be done in order for the retailers to measure their customer’s demands. The retailers can provide ‘House of Comments’ books so that the customers can record their valuable comments in the books, provide friendly sales people so that they can share their needs with the friendly sales people in the store floors. The online comments and customer feedback forms can also be a big source of customers’ demand information. In the long run, every retailer should keep their eyes and ears open over the issues pertaining the customers’ need. Every complaint needs to be handled carefully and seriously.
  3. Providing the best possible customer services by cooperation and assistance: There are many ways to offer services to the customers in a retail environment. Some orthodox retailers depend too much on the process and procedures for providing services to the customers. But, the most effective way of offering customers services to the retail customers is to assist them with your cooperation and support. This way, the retailers can provide information on the features, after sales support and prices of the products along with the practical demonstrations of the products for better understanding and acceptance by the customers.

Ultimately what relationship marketing will achieve for the retailers?

Relationship marketing will give retailers effectiveness and efficiency in dealing with the customers. For retailers, relationship marketing can attain greater marketing effectiveness because it involves retail customers in the early stage of marketing program development that is facilitating the future marketing efforts of the company. Thus, relationship marketing as a discipline got centred on the functions performed by the retailers as marketing institutions. Therefore, retailers in building relationship marketing can better address the needs of their customers by making marketing efforts more effective. There are several ways that can be done in order to achieve efficiency in marketing.

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Retailers can achieve efficiency by:

  1. Attaining customer’s retention: Maintaining strong relationship with the existing customers by establishing and maintaining regular communication with them through the marketing efforts by the retailers.
  2. Providing efficient consumer response: Keeping and recording customers’ feedback on a regular basis will give the retailer an edge over its competitors by having a stronger relationship.
  3. Sharing of resources between the business partners: Retailers also have their suppliers at the back end of its value chain and supply chain functions. By communicating and sharing business information with their suppliers, retailers will create stronger bond with their suppliers, thus opening up the doorways of new ventures and further investments.

By keeping your existing customers you can make more than money than attracting new ones!

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