Retail is one of the most diverse industries, encompassing everything from independent high-street boutiques, online-only creators, and large, multi-national chain stores. Yet despite this incredible diversity, there are universal truths that can apply to retailers of all shapes and sizes – especially when it comes to data.
This was a major topic of discussion at Consumer Week 2022. Here are 4 key takeaways from my fireside chat with Hayley Ward, Head of CX and Data at Marks & Spencer.
1. Get to know your customer
Good data takes the guesswork out of customer analysis. Gone are the days of making assumptions based on industry-wide demographics and trends. By analysing data you already have, you can understand exactly who your customer is, what they want and how they want to get it.
Of course, analysing this data is easier said than done – especially since customer journeys these days are far from linear. While businesses, especially those with an online and social presence, have vast swathes of data on customers, that data is often disjointed, siloed in individual departments. To get the most out of your customer data, you need to break down those silos and create a holistic view of your customers. Only then can you understand how customers shop from start to finish.
With tools like Engage Hub’s Customer Journey Tracker, you can bring together all offline and online channels in a single, integrated view, allowing you to analyse which touchpoints and channels are most effective and where bottlenecks emerge.
2. Create a seamless customer experience across channels
Once you have this end-to-end view of your customer and their journey, you can really take your CX to the next level. When barriers are broken down, departments can share insights. So marketing can design stronger retargeting campaigns, customer service teams can serve customers faster and developers can create apps that truly meet customer needs.
Not only that, but you can also develop customer journeys tailored to individuals (not just to audience segments). Indeed, when Big Data is combined with the latest technologies, retailers can create hyper-personalised experiences that boost customer retention and transaction values. AI gives you the power to analyse your data and make decisions in real-time, so customers are always getting the right experience for them. Next Best Action, for example, shows you the next best step for any given customer based on all the data you have on them – and aligns those decisions to your KPIs. This means you can be confident that you’re always doing the right thing, for both the individual customer and your bottom line.
3. Use analytics to debunk data in real-time
Retailers collect huge amounts of data across all customer journey stages, whether it’s through loyalty schemes, IP addresses, customer log-ins on mobile apps and websites, or transactions. You can then use market insight to analyse the ebb and flow of historical spending to predict future trends and drive personalised recommendations.
Then, you can use analytics to debunk data in real-time, so adapt activity based on how behaviour is evolving and campaigns are performing. To enable this, you need a centralised and single source of truth that combines inputs from a wide range of sources and formats, such as devices, channel preferences, opt-ins, consents, behaviour, location and more. It also needs to incorporate data from all customer touchpoints – online, offline, third-party. This data orchestration gives you a robust foundation for delivering truly effective hyper-personalised experiences based on customers’ interactions with your brand.
4. Build a long-term data orchestration strategy
It’s not enough to orchestrate data for real-time agility.
You need a strategy for bringing all current and future data sources together in one place. And that strategy needs to incorporate technologies like AI and machine learning so you can analyse data at scale – in a way that drives actionable insight.
That way, you can evolve your data foundation to best serve the business for the medium and long term, so you can make the most of your digital transformation investment and keep the business on the front foot.
To learn more about the challenges faced by big retailers like M&S – and the strategies they’ve implemented to overcome these painpoints – watch the on-demand recording of our session.
Want to know more about how Engage Hub can help you solve your data issues? Get in touch to speak with an expert today.