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CEGID REPORT: Treat customers as VIPs for success in the Chinese market

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Retailers and brands moving into the Chinese market need to treat customers as VIPs, according to Sylvain Jauze, director of international operations at French technology company Cegid.

“[In China, retailers] don’t speak about CRM, they speak about VIP management,” he told a briefing of international journalists at Cegid’s Connections conference in Berlin.

This means retailers have to manage customers much as major airlines do, offering different platinum, gold or silver levels of service according to what’s most appropriate. Customer incentives are also crucial: “Nobody in China buys full price, they always want a discount.”

It’s also important, Jauze said, for retailers expanding into Asia to understand local attitudes to retail. “To the Chinese, retail is a hobby,” he said. “During the weekend, [in Europe, you might] go to the countryside with your family. The Chinese? No. They go shopping. They love shopping. This is a hobby.”

The theme of internationalisation was central to the conference. Cegid sees itself as “a software specialist for specialty retail”, and often works with fashion and luxury brands as these companies move into new markets where local conditions can be challenging.

In Russia, for example, a new law has been passed that means retailers “have an obligation to manage customer information [on Russian citizens] within the country and this information must stay within the country”. The deadline for compliance is 1 September 2015, a full year earlier than initially announced. Companies moving into Brazil have to cope with huge complexities around different tax regimes in different states.

Cegid also sees the emergence of omnichannel retail across territories around the world as a key development in the near future. “We want to invest in omni-everything,” Jauze said, “omnichannel, the mobility, clienteling, big data, business intelligence.”

This mix of localisation for different territories and delivering omnichannel will be challenging for retailers and brands, as Lee Bingham, head of IT at luxury fashion brand Paul Smith , made clear in his presentations at the conference. “We like each of our stores to be individual and unique across territories, which is great from a customer experience and retail perspective, but challenging from a technology and IT [perspective],” he said.

Paul Smith recently selected Yourcegid Retail, Cegid’s cloud-based retail management solution to support its international expansion plans.

The company reconstructed the Cegid Innovation Store [pictured above] at the Berlin conference to showcase its innovations.

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