Customer-centric Retail Model Starts in Marketing

NEW YORK – Creating a customer-centric retailing model begins in marketing and involves the alignment of all departments all equipped with specific plans of action.

Kimberly Grabel, senior vice president of marketing for luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue, told attendees Tuesday during her session at the National Retail Federation Convention & Expo that customer centricity is a journey that can lead to rewards in many categories: loyalty, supplier, sales, and assets.

“You have to find ways to engage the whole company,” Grabel said. “If you’re not thinking about your customer, you’re doing this wrong.”

Grabel said Saks is in the early piloting phase of its customer-centric retail model, but it all begins with aggregating data from all channels into one database. “Then you can look at customer segmentation,” Grabel said. “Our early tests in marketing are getting everyone excited and we’re beginning to engage the whole company.”

Retail, Grabel said, has always been a blend of art and science.

“Now we’re dialing up the science,” Grabel said. “It’s critical for stores to receive this type of customer segmentation information. Not all customers are created equal and some customers we want to treat even better. We have all customer activity across all channels in one database. Our online folks are excited to have any information we can give them about their customers.”

Associates need to gather customer data at the point of sale, Grabel said. “We incorporate all of that information about customer behavior and supply it to everyone who needs it. And we can change our assortments based on all of that information.”

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