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CRM in Retail: 7 Key Features, Benefits & 4 Suggestions in 2024

Updated on Jan 3
5 min read
Written by
Cem Dilmegani
Cem Dilmegani
Cem Dilmegani

Cem is the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per Similarweb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work focuses on how enterprises can leverage new technologies in AI, automation, cybersecurity(including network security, application security), data collection including web data collection and process intelligence.

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As the retail industry continues to grow, so does the need for automation due to the increased quantity and magnitude of operations.1 Indeed, research reveals that up to 40% of retail activities can be automated, and 75% of retailers have seen advances in productivity, revenue, and operational costs due to digitalization, particularly with Artificial Intelligence (AI).2

Source: McKinsey

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is critical to this digital revolution as it:

This article provides the key features of CRM in retail, the benefits of CRM software in the retail industry, and helps businesses in choosing the best retail CRM software.

What is CRM software in retail?

Retail stores handle a variety of processes, such as logistics or store operations, to ensure that the customers get the best service. Automating these retail procedures can save up to 65% of the time.3

Research shows that the retail industry is the most CRM-adopted sector, accounting for ~25% of all industries.4 A retail CRM system can collect consumer data from several points of contact between the customer and the store, such as:

  • company’s website
  • phone
  • live chat
  • email
  • marketing materials
  • social media. 

It can also provide detailed information on customers’ personal information, transaction history, purchasing preferences, and issues to customer-facing employees.

7 key features of CRM in retail

1- Sales and inventory forecasting

Companies can use CRM to forecast sales and inventory levels. For example, based on past sales trends, the system can forecast sales for the coming quarter. It can also predict the inventory needs based on sales projections and current inventory levels. This guarantees that companies always have enough stock and avoids overstocking or stock outs.

Additionally, businesses can design and manage campaigns that target certain products or categories directly through CRM. For example, if the CRM identifies a slow-moving product, companies might launch a promotion to increase sales.

2- Logistic operations automation

Automating logistic operations makes shipping, processing refunds, and providing customer assistance easier. For example, after a transaction, a CRM system can generate shipping labels, update tracking information, and manage return requests. This feature helps avoid human errors and saves time in the logistics process.

3- Store operations automation

Companies can use automated tools to analyze daily sales, manage employee schedules, and generate targeted marketing campaigns. For example, if the CRM system reveals that a given store location has a larger customer volume on weekends, businesses can change employee schedules to ensure that they are sufficiently staffed during peak hours.

4- 360° customer view

This provides a comprehensive picture of each customer’s interactions with the brand. Customer information such as their contact details, purchase history, preferences, complaints, and interactions with the marketing campaigns can be viewed from a single source. This feature offers personalized insights to sales and marketing teams, such as recommending a new product to a customer based on previous purchases.

5- Low-code no-code development

Low-code/no-code development allows organizations to customize the CRM solution without extensive coding knowledge. It often involves drag-and-drop interfaces and prebuilt modules. For instance, companies could use this feature to create a custom report that shows sales by product category for each store, or design an online customer service survey.

6- Reporting & analytics

This feature helps generate actionable reports and insights on customer behavior. For instance, analytics could show that customers in a certain age group prefer a specific product category. Based on this data, you can create targeted marketing campaigns for this demographic, increasing sales and customer satisfaction.

7- Customer service management

This feature allows companies to manage all customer service interactions through various channels, such as phone, email, and chat. It ensures that all customer inquiries are tracked, managed, and resolved in a timely manner. For instance, if a customer sends an email asking about a product, the CRM system could automatically route it to the appropriate support agent and track response time which helps to improve customer service.

How Customer Relationship Management (CRM) benefits businesses?

Higher customer satisfaction

With CRM, companies can track customer preferences and purchase history to recommend products that they are likely to be interested in. Businesses can also use CRM to send targeted marketing messages to customers based on their interests which would increase customer loyalty and improve customer experience.

Increased sales

CRM helps track customer interactions and identify opportunities to upsell and cross-sell products. Companies can also create targeted marketing campaigns that are more likely to convert leads into customers.

Reduced costs

CRM software can help companies reduce costs by automating tasks such as customer service, sales, and marketing. With CRM, organizations can also improve their inventory management to reduce waste and improve the bottom line.

If you are looking for a way to improve your customer relationships, increase sales, and reduce costs, then CRM is a solution that you should consider. With the right CRM solution, you can take your retail business to the next level.

Suggestions for finding the right retail CRM software

Suggestion 1: Identify your needs and must-haves

You should first understand what your specific needs are from a CRM. This could include tracking customer interactions, managing customer data, or store operations automation. Also, consider ‘must-have’ features like integration capabilities with existing systems, mobile access, customization options, etc.

Suggestion 2: Consider the size of your business

The size and nature of your business plays a big role in deciding the type of CRM software you need. If you’re a large retailer with multiple outlets, you might need a more robust CRM with advanced features like predictive analytics, inventory management, etc. If you’re a small business, a simpler CRM with basic features might suffice.

Suggestion 3: Check out our retail CRM software benchmarking

We conducted research on the available CRM software in the retail business based on market presence and different capabilities such as real-time monitoring, calendar, no-code development, and so on. We have included the top vendors in our benchmarking based on the number of B2B reviews on review sites such as G2, Capterra, and Trustradius and the number of employees, as they are verifiable.

You can read our article on the top 10 retail CRM software here.

Suggestion 4: Try out demos before you decide

Most CRM vendors offer free demos or trial versions of their software. Take advantage of these to get a feel for how the software works, its user interface, and whether it suits your needs. A hands-on trial can reveal the pros and cons that you may not find in product descriptions.

Suggestion 5: Plan the migration process

Almost all business rely on a tool to keep track of relationships. This could be as simple as your email client or spreadsheet or it could be as complex as an on-premise CRM tool. Migration requires at least:

  • changing user habits
  • transferring existing data
  • setting up new integrations (e.g. connecting CRM to calendar and email applications)

The migration process is critical for software adoption and buyers need to ensure that the new CRM has the capabilities and, if necessary, has an ecosystem of partners to enable a fast and low-cost migration process.

For those interested, here is our data-driven list of CRM software.

Reach us if you need help in your vendor selection:

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Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem is the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per Similarweb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work focuses on how enterprises can leverage new technologies in AI, automation, cybersecurity(including network security, application security), data collection including web data collection and process intelligence.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Cem's hands-on enterprise software experience contributes to the insights that he generates. He oversees AIMultiple benchmarks in dynamic application security testing (DAST), data loss prevention (DLP), email marketing and web data collection. Other AIMultiple industry analysts and tech team support Cem in designing, running and evaluating benchmarks.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised enterprises on their technology decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Sources: Traffic Analytics, Ranking & Audience, Similarweb.
Why Microsoft, IBM, and Google Are Ramping up Efforts on AI Ethics, Business Insider.
Microsoft invests $1 billion in OpenAI to pursue artificial intelligence that’s smarter than we are, Washington Post.
Data management barriers to AI success, Deloitte.
Empowering AI Leadership: AI C-Suite Toolkit, World Economic Forum.
Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU, European Commission.
Public-sector digitization: The trillion-dollar challenge, McKinsey & Company.
Hypatos gets $11.8M for a deep learning approach to document processing, TechCrunch.
We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck AI startup Hypatos used to raise $11 million, Business Insider.

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