In-the-Cloud Retail Solutions Will Allow Australian Retailers To Compete Effectively Against Global Brands
~ Best-of-Breed Hosted Loyalty Systems Allow Major Fashion Retailer Jeanswest to More Effectively Engage With Over 500,000 Customers ~
Sydney, Australia -- November 23, 2009 -- Retail solutions integrator and developer LoyaltyTech [ www.loyaltytech.com.au ] today announced that the next generation of "in-the-cloud" retail information systems would allow Australian retailers to compete effectively against global brands without having to make the same levels of investment in electronic systems.
LoyaltyTech recently implemented cloud-based best-of-breed loyalty systems to allow fashion retailer Jeanswest to more effectively engage with over 500,000 customers through its next generation customer loyalty program (see separate media release, also issued today).
In-the-cloud systems such as Salesforce.com have already revolutionised the provision of customer relationship management (CRM) systems for the finance and services industries, according to LoyaltyTech's Managing Director Matt Hampshire, and are set to do the same for retailing.
However, he warned retailers against repeating the same mistakes that many companies made with first generation CRM and e-Commerce systems.
"Some companies have been locked into expensive information systems which are too cumbersome and costly to adapt to the ever-changing retail environment," said Hampshire. "Flexibility is key if local retailers are going to effectively compete against global brands that have already spent millions on electronic systems."
In-the-cloud refers to remotely hosted information systems that are delivered to users via the Internet. With no need for users to invest in additional computer equipment they require less capital investment than traditional systems and are usually purchased via ongoing monthly payments.
Users only need an Internet connection and a Web browser to access in-the-cloud systems, which means they can be deployed in days or weeks instead of months or years. And because they are based on technologies that users already understand, they require less training, are better accepted by staff and are less costly to support.
While Australian retailers currently trail their US and UK counterparts in embracing technology -- with global retailers making significant inroads into the local market -- this black cloud hanging over the sector had a silver lining, said Hampshire.
"Most of what's happening now in Australia -- with the explosion of e-commerce and loyalty programs for example -- happened in the US two to three years ago, which is a good thing," he said. "It means we can learn from their mistakes and do things faster and more cost-effectively."
The first lesson is that retailers must move beyond standard loyalty programs to differentiate themselves. "Everyone has a loyalty program now," said Hampshire. "The challenge is to move beyond a points for purchase mentality to give the customer a totally engaging retail experience."
To support this, retail information systems must meet seven important criteria, said Hampshire. They must be flexible, cost-effective, expandable, easy to use, easy to deploy, integrate with existing systems, and include best practice.
"For most retailers, in-the-cloud solutions are the only practical way to achieve this," said Hampshire. "Instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars up front, you can get started for a fraction of that cost."
An in-the-cloud solution starting at around $50,000 includes a loyalty platform, customer portal, email marketing, support for best practice campaigns, website and back-office integration, and a management console with reporting.
An example of best practice was adding customer reviews to a retail website and using loyalty points to encourage customers to submit reviews. "Adding reviews to your website boosts traffic by anywhere from 5% to 45%," said Hampshire.
This was just one example of thinking beyond points, he said. "One problem with points programs is they tend to focus on customers who spend a lot of money. A customer who spends less money may be far more influential, particularly when you factor in how people use social networking to share their retail experiences."
LoyaltyTech is a privately held company founded in 2004 which develops business and technology solutions that make it easier for retailers to engage with their customers. The company has extensive practical experience working with leading brands around the world. Its vision is to translate this experience into cost-effective, best-practice systems for Australian businesses which integrate sales, marketing and service channels. For more information please visit www.loyaltytech.com.au
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