The questions that keep retail marketers up at night have evolved quite significantly over the last decade. It wasn’t too long ago that marketers would spend their time debating which highway to place their billboard on, whether or not their next TV commercial should be comical or heart tugging, and even what the optimal time of day was to blast an email campaign to their entire customer list. However, today’s data-driven environment has turned the retail marketing landscape on its head, and businesses have a whole new set of struggles that revolve around identity and data.
1. Knowing What Data to Capture
There is an excess amount of data available, from both online and offline sources. When a customer shops at a brick and mortar store, they are creating data points – what items did they purchase? What time did they shop? How long were they in the store? And when the same customer shops online, they are creating a whole new set of data points – what device did they use? Did they browse certain items that they ultimately didn’t buy? How much time did they spend on a certain page? There is a never-ending slew of data. So much so, that retailers are struggling to understand what data to focus on. The first step is to clarify the challenge you’re trying to solve. By knowing what your problem is, you can help drive the decision of what is the right data. For example, if you want to determine when a good time to offer an online incentive is, you should pay attention to what days and times your customers are shopping online the most, and don’t just pick one time, but customize it based on individual preferences.
2. Understanding Customer Behavior
Not only is having too much data a challenge, but struggling to combine it all together to create a comprehensive single customer view is also a tough feat to accomplish. Today’s consumer journey is no longer linear, customers use a revolving door of different devices such as tablets, mobile phones, and laptops, and retailers need to keep up. A customer may be in a store and see a new pair of shoes they want, but because of the long line at the cashier, they pull out their mobile phone and add the shoes to their cart. However, because they are on the go, they decide they will complete the purchase later. Back at home, they may go to purchase the shoes from their laptop and chances are if they aren’t recognized and the shoes aren’t in their cart they may feel inconvenienced and nix the purchase. Retailers need to be able to combine offline CRM and purchasing data with a customer’s online activity regardless of the channel or device.
3. Building Trust Between Consumers and Your Brand
Trust is the bedrock of any online relationship. And consumers who hold trust with your brand will be willing to share more data in order to make their experience more convenient. However, retailers need to establish this trust by ensuring customer data is collected transparently and respectfully. In fact, according to recent Experian data, 80 percent of consumers say the more transparent a business is about the use of their information, the greater trust they have in that business. The same report also found that 56 percent of businesses plan to invest more in transparency-inspired programs, such as consumer education, communicating terms more concisely, and helping consumers feel in control of their personal data.
4. Establishing Customer Loyalty
Today’s consumer has a plethora of opportunities and choices all available at their fingertips. This makes it more difficult than ever for retailers to build and maintain customer loyalty. By using data and insights to help brands interact with people in more meaningful ways, retailers can provide a more personalized and relevant experience, helping to establish loyalty. By understanding your customers’ needs and delivering what they want (i.e. cold weather products before they head skiing for a weekend or new swimwear before a beach vacation) you are not only helping to bring in additional revenue but you are building a relationship and keeping the customer shopping with you.
5. Finding Your Technology Solution
Retailers need to integrate technology in order to actually make all their data actionable and use it to streamline the customer experience. Retailers need to be able to integrate data storage platforms with a fulfillment and reporting solution, such as email service providers, display networks and marketing intelligence tools. Whether retailers are exploring the industry or gearing up to make a substantial investment in the right technology partner, it’s important to ensure you are evaluating potential partners equally and consistently.
Experian can help retailers effectively use their data and insights to interact with their customers and potential customers in more meaningful ways. Our core capabilities revolve around data, linkage and activation. We work with retailers and provide them with the necessary data about their customers to help build a comprehensive picture of who their customer truly is and what they want. We also work with retailers to help them reach their customers across multiple channels including: mobile, email, social, direct mail, TV, and display, and provide the data and identity solutions necessary to ensure that same customer who put the shoes in their cart while at the store, is the same customer who wants to finalize the transaction later that evening on their laptop. Lastly, Experian helps retailers track the impact of their marketing campaigns to determine what strategies are effective and will increase ROI in the long term.
Today’s data-driven marketing landscape has opened the door for new opportunities and challenges. Retail marketers need to change their way of thinking if they want to continue to thrive. They have to sort through mounds of data and figure out what to use and how to make the most of it. They need to identify who their customers are no matter where they are or what device they are using. They also need to be able to build trust so that customers are comfortable sharing personal information and create customer loyalty by finding ways to turn that data into smarter decisions. Lastly, retailers need to find the right technology solutions and partners to ensure they are keeping up with today’s consumers and making the most of the marketing tools available in today’s age.