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“Good service is good business.”

It’s a quote that pertains to retail at every level, and for good reason. Customers are the lifeblood of retail brands; they drive sales, bolster brand reputations and support overall brand loyalty. From word-of-mouth retail marketing to repeat transactions, the value of positive customer relationships is truly priceless, in the short-term and the long-term. So, how do retail brands ensure they are delivering top-notch products and services to their customer base? The answer is customer relationship management, also known as CRM. An essential tool for retail brands, CRM software places important customer information, such as purchase history, product preferences and contact information, in one accessible location for more streamlined, personalized customer service.

Ready to find the right CRM tool for your retail brand? Check out our list of the top 5 CRM programs for successful retail businesses.

  1. Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning – Professional Tier

Voted PC Mag’s Editor’s Choice for The Best CRM Software of 2018, Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning checks all the boxes. While Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning is available in four tiers, ranging from a $25-per-month Essential package to a $300-per-month Unlimited package, PC Mag believes brands get the most bang for their buck with the $75-per-month Professional package. With this unique CRM service, you can access detailed customer profiles from the convenience of a mobile app – and when we say detailed, we mean detailed. Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning at the Professional tier compiles customer activity data, sales history, previous customer service conversations and more to develop the most accurate profile possible. To streamline CRM even further, this program is equipped with internal communication tools like Chatter, a “social enterprise” that allows employees to discuss customer interactions and updates via news feed, group forums and online chat. Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightening also facilitates lead generation by equipping AI technology to uncover and prioritize promising leads based on their level of brand engagement.

  1. Apptivo CRM

Another PC Mag CRM favorite is Apptivo CRM, an all-in-one service known for its incredible scalability. Apptivo is available in three different plans: Starter, a basic package with no monthly fee, Premium, which comes in at $8 per month, and Ultimate, which is $20 per month. Apptivo CRM integrates with a multitude of popular apps, including G Suite, Office 365, Slack, PayPal, QuickBooks, DropBox and more, to serve small and medium-sized businesses during every step of the sales process. With web-to-lead forms, Apptivo automatically generates leads as they fill out contact forms on your website, creating a real-time list of potential customers. From there, Apptivo gives retailers every resource needed to act on possible leads; the CRM tool stores contact information, sends reminders and remembers conversations to keep retailers connected to their customers. The customization doesn’t stop there—each customer page can be specially tailored as the relationship unfolds. Need to add an address box? There’s a button for that. Want to make specific notes about a customer? There’s a button for that, too. If you’re in the market for a project management tool, Apptivo handles that as well, sending invoices, drafting timesheets, compiling expense reports and creating estimates at the touch of a button.

  1. Less Annoying CRM

Coming in at just $10 per month, Less Annoying CRM is a great CRM tool for businesses on a budget. Rated #1 for Small Businesses by G2 Crowd, this award-winning service has been recognized by business management specialists for its simplicity and affordability. Less Annoying CRM offers a variety of services designed to make CRM – as the name implies – less annoying. Focusing on worry-free user experience, Less Annoying CRM formats customer information on a single, easy-to-read page. The page grants access to a variety of useful resources, including helpful lead reports that clearly list the status and priority of the lead. The CRM software also manages workflow with daily agenda emails, sharable calendars and one-click spreadsheet export capability. To make things even more convenient, Less Annoying CRM is hosted on Amazon.com’s infrastructure, so data is always backed up and ready when you need it.

  1. Freshsales

If you’re just getting started with CRM, Freshsales is the service for you. This intuitive program offers all the features you need to get to establish an efficient CRM workflow. The beauty of Freshsales is that it covers all the bases – you can make trackable phone calls, send targeted emails and reach out to prospects instantly. When it comes to lead generation, the service includes a point-based scoring system that ranks potential customers based on their personal profile and purchase history. When customers make a purchase, Freshsales will track the transaction down to the last detail, even recording what webpages customers visited prior to converting. Once a prospect becomes a customer, Freshsales creates a highly visual sales pipeline that clearly outlines each customer’s relationship with your brand, from sales history to customer service communications. If you’re curious about Freshsales, the company offers a 30-day free trial to help you get better acquainted with the software and features. After the trial, you will be invited to sign up for one of four available pricing tiers: Blossom, the most basic package at $12 per month, Garden, which offers the next level of functionality at $25 per month, Estate, the most popular tier at $49 per month, and Forest, the most comprehensive tier at $79 per month.

  1. HubSpot CRM

When developing a customer base, fast and consistent CRM is crucial. HubSpot CRM will help you maintain that constant presence to stay top-of-mind with current and future customers. HubSpot CRM syncs with social media accounts, Gmail and Outlook to make note of every email, call and post, creating a thorough log of customer communications. Instead of tasking members of your team with sending emails, HubSpot CRM uses one-click email templates to automate outreach. To keep you up-to-date on customer activity, the service sends real-time notifications whenever a customer opens an email or downloads an attachment, so you can quickly follow-up. Oh, and did we mention that this service is 100% free? Now, that’s a key feature!

We’re going to be blunt here: CRM is essential for retail brands because customers are essential to retail brands. Think of CRM as a travel guide throughout the customer’s path to purchase, highlighting customer insights and outreach opportunities along the way. There’s no doubt that navigating the retail consumer journey is more complex than ever, and CRM ensures you get (and stay) in front of customers to turn one transaction into many. All you need are the right tools, and you’ll be providing good service for good business in no time.

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