Relationship marketing is based on the response of marketing campaigns, and it is meant to identify ways of retaining customers and satisfying them with little emphasis on sales transactions (Gordon 1999). Relationship marketing identifies the value of customer relationship in long terms and communication is enhanced apart from the usual advertisements and promotions. Relationship marketing has gone a notch higher with the advancement in technology opening up social networks for communication. Relationship marketing is a strategy for nurturing and managing a firm’s interaction with customers and sale prospects. The whole idea of relationship marketing is identify, attract and get new customers while at the same time retaining customers that already exist in the firm’s web.
Women between the ages of 25 years and 45 years are style conscious about their dresses. Cache, a mall based retailer, has branches all over the country and deals with lifestyle dresses and sportswear specifically for this kind of age bracket (Gordon 1999). Their products targets youthful women who are fashion conscious, self confident, needs a missy fit and at the same time being provided a high level of customer service. A wide collection of clothing is provided to meet a woman’s need for daytime sportswear and evening. They also provide sophisticated casual wear accessories and apparels to meet the required needs. Cache provides clothing that is needed for special events and holidays. The accessories include handbags, jewelry and shoes that compliment clothing that one may want to purchase. Cache provides a boutique like environment which gives a woman that feel of being the center of attraction and the client service is of a high quality (Clothing, footwear and fashion, 2010).
Overview of the Clothing Industry
The clothing industry generally deals with garments for babies, children, men and women. The industry also deals with leather and plastic footwear. Accessories such as scarves and gloves are also included. The sector incorporates fashion specialists such as fabric and clothes designers. Key drivers n the clothing industry include reduced costs, EU being given preferential treatment in acquisition and dispatches, globalization and the 2005 multi-fiber agreement (Gordon 1999).
Even though we are aware that the ladies who frequent Cache retail shop have a high consumer purchasing power, there should be a consideration for those who are not able to purchase such products at very high costs. Therefore whatever prices are tagged for the products, Cache needs to ensure that such prices are reasonable. The market price of the products should be taken into consideration when deciding to place a price for a product. Placing a high price value definitely will discourage some potential customer and the end result is that they will tend to go to the other competitors that offer affordable prices (Gordon 1999).
Alleviation of Your Potential Customer Fears
Customers are very wary of purchases that are done online than those that are carried offline (About Us). The online buying has been known to dupe customers or being given inferior products which do not satisfy what they had requested for. They might only purchase online after being recommended by a friend. Since some of the sales of Cache are done online, the need to look at ways that can alleviate the prospects fears. Alleviation of their fears can be done through making sure that Cache’s website is rich in content that elicits a cordial relationship. Unsolicitated testimonies from satisfied customers can also be posited on Cache’s website so as to attract and convince potential customers (Gordon 1999).
Cache needs to be very sincere with what they offer in terms of their products. Whether online or offline advertisements, there should be truth in whatever they advertise. Labelling bogus quality to a product is like insulting the intelligence of your prospective customers and ladies are especially sensitive to such issues. The end result is that there will be loss of a prospective customer that would have may be turned out to be a long term customer (Gordon 1999).
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The customers need to contact Caches in an easy way and therefore Cache should continuously strive to be accessible and be quick to respond to queries. This ensures that prospective buyers are not lost. Online purchases need to be very efficient so hat the customer does not get frustrated when he/she is purchasing or making payments. If the online system is not accessible or efficient, then prospective customers will definitely be lost (Gordon 1999).
Quality continuity and improvement
Since Cache is retail shop that deals with clothes of young females that are very sensitive design and fashion, Cache will have to continuously try to keep up with the trend of changing fashions and designs. Research should continuously be carried out so that Cache remains the talk of the town in terms of fashion and design. If this is kept in mind their will be high back end profits (Gordon 1999).
Meeting Customers’ Expectations
The prospective customers need to rely on you (Gordon 1999). Therefore Cache should always check out the needs of its customer base and in turn produce products that go far beyond their wild dreams in that way, prospective and new customers that have been referred will get the satisfaction they were yearning for and will remain to be loyal customers (Gordon 1999)..
According to Gordon (1999), a business adventure cannot be successful if measures are not put into place to maintain a healthy relationship between the customer and the seller. Cache should understand that it is in the human instinct and nature that customers are attracted or influenced by the trust they have towards a certain individual. For a customer to purchase a certain product, he takes into mind the perception he/she has of the person selling the product. The way the seller behaves and the overall interaction influences the buying behavior of an individual and the subsequent decision of whether to continue visiting the retail shop or not.
To retain customers, cache needs to take the following into consideration.
Synchronize Stock with Demand
Cache needs to keep real time stock report so that customers are able to find the right product whenever they need it. Customers are not in favor of being turned away by not finding the right size of wear they want to purchase. Customers especially young ladies, will be enticed by the concept that they are able to find the product of their choice at this retail mall. This will satisfy them and they will continue coming back for more (O’Farrell 1999).
Cache can decide to do customer segmentation using information on their database. Information on the database gives historical habits of customers on the purchases they do. This information helps to do customer segmentation so that a promotion specific for a certain customer’s need is made. Cache can segment customers into top customers, ones with potentials and those that are low end. For top customers, private sales might be possible, those with potential might be offered with promotions to reward them for their increased visits to the shop while the low-end customers might need to be given a discount so with the hope of making them to visit again (O’Farrell 1999) .
A loyalty program can be used to satisfy the customers’ needs. This is because the program keeps record of the buying trends of customers and their habits. These customers form a small group and therefore cache can use this information to satisfy the customer needs and hence retain them (O’Farrell 1999).
The willing to work, handle customers well and respond to whichever query they have constitutes enthusiasm. Flattery but not that which is exaggerated is a good trick. Taking into consideration that Cache products are geared towards young women, women like to be appreciated. If they wear a cloth and a positive comment emanates from a person who is handling them, the notion they develop is that you are at their service and they won’t hesitate to come back for more when need arises (O’Farrell 1999).
Lending a helpful hand towards customers (keeping in mind Cache is a ladies retail mall) builds a healthy and strong relationship between the seller and the customer. There should always be efforts to help them meet their needs and ask if they need extra help or additional services. Such a concern helps them feel special and wanted in the retail shop and would always want to purchase from Cache because of the excellent services offered (O’Farrell 1999).
The employees of Cache need to be at the forefront of offering help even if they hhave not been asked to do so by the customer. This goes further to cement a good relationship between Cache and its customers. Such initiatives make ladies have the feel that Cache is very sensitive to the needs (O’Farrell 1999).
Ladies like voicing out their opinions and suggestions and as such Cache has to empower them to voice out their opinions which will go a long way in improving Cache’s services and products. Suggestion can be carried out through various forms of Cache’s evaluation methods such as fliers, surveys or suggestion boxes (O’Farrell 1999).
Cache employees can develop good gestures and mannerisms like welcoming customers and greeting them. Thanking them for taking time to visit the retail shop goes a long way of showing your appreciation. Therefore, if these measures are taken into consideration, then Cache will definitely retain its customers and attract more others (O’Farrell 1999).
Gordon (1999) argues that, retention of customers is very helpful as it is associated with increased profitability due to: reduced acquisition cost since they only occur at the start of a relationship but when the relationship is maintained, the costs of acquisition are eliminated; Account maintenance as percentage of overall costs declines; long term customers are not prone to switching and price sensitivity. Thus, the volume of sales remain higher; long term customers propagate promotions through referrals and free word of mouth; they are likely to purchase large volumes of products and add supplementary products; long term customers maintain a close relationship with their favorable firms and therefore competitors or new entrant competitors find it hard to compete with such a firm; long term customers are less expensive in terms of being offered services as they already understand the firm very well; Long term customers make the job of the seller easier and satisfying (O’Farrell 1999).
When deciding on the retention strategy, Cache will need to carry out customer retention measurement, determine reasons for defection and finally develop and implement corrective plans. There exist six market models that can be used by Cache to ensure retention of customers. These models include internal markets, recruitment markets, supplier markets, referral markets, customer markets and influence markets (Christopher, et al 1991).
Referral marketing involves the development and implementation of a marketing plan that stimulates referrals (Gordon 1999). Referral marketing is seen to be the most effective means of customer retention but it takes quite some time before one can observe it. Marketing to suppliers’ main purpose is to ensure that there is no long-term conflict relationship. All parties are meant to understand each other’s needs and expectations. This strategy is said to reduce costs and there is improvement of product quality.
Influence markets encompass various sub-markets that include: financial analysts, standards bodies, government regulators, consumer associations, stockholders, lobbyists, venture capitalists, bankers, stockbrokers, labour associations and environmental associations. The public relation department is involved in carrying out these activities. However, relationship marketers are of the idea that marketing to all six markets should be a responsibility of each individual in a firm. Each market can be said to require its own strategy and market mix (Christopher et al, 1991).
For many years, women have been known to be choosy in picking clothing or jewelry. They are always in need of being the pacesetters of fashions among their peers. Designers (especially those of Cache) have to keep in mind of the fashion in place while designing the various outfits so as to have an upper edge in this competitive business. Ladies need to have a dress that leaves a mark when they are in their clothes outfits. In order to make big sales, Cache needs to keep in mind the fashion trends and other measures of attracting and retaining customers.
Strategies aimed at retaining customers create barriers so that customers do not switch to your competitors. Product bundling is one such effect strategy, cross promotions, cross selling, loyalty programs, increasing switching costs and computer integration of multiple organizations are other effective strategies. However, it is seen that a team based approach is more effective since the more contact you make with your customers, the stronger the relationship bond becomes and thus, the relationship becomes more secure