E-Tailers Lack Customer Relationship Plans

Despite a rising consciousness about the importance of loyalty marketing, 70 percent of online retailers lack operational strategies for cultivating their all-important customer relationships, according to a survey.

The “Customer Development Survey” conducted among a cross-section of online retailers by FollowUp.Net, found that 26 percent of online retailers have no customer relationship development plan. Almost half (45 percent) perform their customer development programs on an ad hoc basis. That leaves 29 percent who are actively pursuing consistent, multi-step programs for developing customer relationships.

Additional findings of the study include:

  • Many online retailers realize attitudinal data is more effective than transactional data for segmenting their customers, yet 25 percent perform no segmentation
  • Among those performing segmentation, only 14 percent uses attitudinal information to segment customers
  • 58 percent of respondents send out untargeted sales promotions
  • 42 percent of respondents send out untargeted newsletters
  • Most online retailers recognize the importance of knowing customer behavior and preferences, but few have the skills or resources to acquire such information.

“Virtual stores have a significant opportunity to develop targeted customer communications,” said FollowUp.Net CEO Chris Woods. “Those online retailers who swiftly integrate segmentation and targeting capabilities into their day-to-day operations will enjoy a strategic advantage versus their competitors.”

Only 13 percent of online retailers indicated they engage in permission marketing, according to FollowUp.Net. Even fewer (10 percent) said their sites used one-to-one marketing techniques. Practical tools for executing these tactics are hard to come by, the study found.

The data are the results of a small-sample poll conducted via telephone and email with online retailers.

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