Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Discount/Low Cost And Customer Relationship Management: Ikea's Case Study

Customer relationship management and low cost business seems to be unlikely to coexist. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you a thought I had once I went to an Ikea store.

Indeed, Ikea sets its success on its low cost strategy. They have been able for years now to gain market shares by proposing furnitures at the lowest price. Most of the time people make fun of those furnitures which you have to assemble. But when Ikea has been funded, it invented this way to retail furnitures, and now, it became almost like the standard of the business.

How to approach customer relationship management in a low cost business is an uneasy task. Low cost implies you to look after any kind of unnecessary expenses, and by doing so, you are not supposed to have any kind of mergins which would allow one company to proposes vouchers. Therefore, the traditionnal approach of CRM which is to give discounts to loyal customers as a reward is not possible.

Rather than on focusing on giving rewards out, which is not really what assure customers' loyalty, low cost firms need to set up a partnership with its customers. This is what Ikea did, by explaining the whole philosophy behind its model

The company agrees to keep its prices low by cutting all kinds of non necessary costs, and the customer remain loyal because it finds what it is looking for: affordable products.

Also, on the other hand, the customer agrees to have a limited service, to assemble by himself its furniture, and so on.

Most of the time companies in need of securing market shares are luring on customer relationship management strategies, and are looking for reward based strategies, which may not always be the best way, as it can become very expensive. Ikea focused on its philosophy, delivering what the customer is expecting them to deliver, and then secures customer loyalty.