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WASHINGTON -- The latest Customer Centricity Study, conducted by Ogden Associates for the NRF Foundation here, shows just how important the customer really is to retailers. Key among the findings: More and more retailers are utilizing customer data (customer insight) to improve marketing programs and merchandise offerings -- a fundamental yet often elusive goal of retailers' customer relationship management (CRM) programs.
In perhaps the clearest indication of retailer commitment to customer knowledge-driven strategies, 65 percent of retailers in the latest survey say their technology expenditures for CRM will increase this year.
The study is based on a detailed survey of more than 200 retailers from a variety of industry segments conducted in December 2005. It's the fourth such survey conducted by the NRF and Ogden Associates since 2002.
The survey finds that retailers are deploying a wide variety of techniques to build customer understanding, including market and customer research, focus groups, store intercepts, supplier input, Web statistics, third-party data, and Internet research. It also showed that retailers really are listening to their shoppers these days, with more than 35 percent of them obtaining direct customer feedback on a daily basis -- a notable increase from 2004, where just under 10 percent of retailers obtained weekly customer feedback.
In spite of these advances, the Customer Centricity Study also shows that retailers are still not achieving the return on investment they seek from customer knowledge-driven strategies and techniques, as 60 percent cite lack of proven ROI as an obstacle to the program. Throughout the study there is evidence that retailers still have much more to accomplish in improving their processes and organizational alignment, according to the NRF Foundation, the research and education arm of the National Retail Federation. Only 44 percent of retailers have tackled this piece, although the study does predict that this will be a major focus of activity over the next couple of years.