Some 52 per cent of retailers surveyed reported CRM (customer relationship management) to be their highest business priority for 2001, but only 34 per cent actually have implemented a CRM initiative, according to a Gartner study.
The survey gauged responses of 56 retailers. CRM, according to Gartner, has gained significant "mindshare" because it attempts to fill retailers' most critical needs: understanding customer buying habits and providing better customer information throughout an organisation. But CRM technology still is very immature, which hinders retailers' efforts to reap benefits, according to Gartner.
CRM is defined by Gartner as the concept of moving ownership of the customer to the enterprise level and away from individuals and departments. The study also found that 43 per cent of respondents saw CRM as a moderate business priority and 5 per cent rated it a low priority.
Gartner said technology implementation is not the key to success in CRM. To succeed, retailers must evaluate processes in light of customer expectations, assessing strengths and weaknesses and rebuilding them based on customer demands.
Gartner identified five key initiatives that CRM-focus market leaders in retail will undertake through 2004: promote merchandising, marketing, servicing,and selling across channels; provide a consistent face to the customer across all contact points; capture and leverage knowledge across channels at the granular level; identify, target, and differentiate valuable consumers; and recognise the lifetime value and profitability of consumers.