To give customers the personalized, attentive treatment they deserve, retailers need to gain control over the vast amounts of data they possess to put it to good use. Retailers have access to more data than ever before, posing new challenges and opportunities. These mountains of data offer a truly unique opportunity to influence the customer journey in a number of interesting ways, but are retailers making the most of it? For many, the answer is still no.
Savvy retailers know that information is their most valuable asset. Forward-thinking retailers are putting solutions into place that can centralize data from all of their systems, analyze and transform it into actionable insights, enabling the delivery of targeted marketing communications, tailored product assortments, and effective pricing and promotions.
1. When It Comes to Using Their Data Effectively, Most Retailers Face Similar Obstacles
The ability to access and make decisions based on hard facts rather than gut feelings is quickly becoming critically important, so why are retailers still struggling to get a grip on all of the data that is available to them? According to a recent RIS News study, the three following items represent the largest obstacles to the effective use of data across the organization:
- Inadequate talent or dedicated staff (56%)
- Limited software toolsets (47%)
- Inability to integrate data from multiple sources (47%)
2. Data is the New Gold
There has never been a better time to take control of the great unknown and shine a light on your dark data. Gartner defines dark data as “the information assets organizations collect, process, and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes.” If your organization has large amounts of unstructured or unorganized data, there is bound to be a lot of untapped potential hiding inside that mass of information.
3. What Retailers Share (and Don’t Share!) Is Critical
The data retailers share the most often between departments is high-level information about inventory, promotional performance, and sales. What doesn’t tend to make it across organizational silos, on the other hand, is data about online and in-store customer behavior, loyalty, and other customer engagement metrics. This is a significant missed opportunity in this age of omni-channel retailing! Collaboration and transparency between departments and divisions is critical to obtaining a holistic view of the customer and thus, delivering a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints and channels. For nearly all retailers, in-store transactions still represent a vast majority of sales (still 90% on average), yet few retailers have put tools in place to capture meaningful customer in-store data beyond basic point of sale transactions. Most retailers focus on transaction data instead of interaction data and are missing out on opportunities to better know and understand their customers because of it.
4. Most Retailers Now Recognize the Value Analytics Can Create
Recent statistics show that the most popular ways retailers use data today are for ‘driving operational efficiencies’ (37%) and “facilitating growth” (37%), which speaks volumes about how important using analytics is in optimizing the health of a business. Analytics can be used to better understand customers, improve digital marketing effectiveness and price performance, and provide relevant insights to the sales force. Retailers are looking to improve their use of data to drive recommendations, promotions, and interactions across all channels. Retailers should also use web analytics and other tools to capture online activities, such as page depth, viewed products, abandoned carts, promotion affinity, segmentation, and goal metrics.
5. Empowering Sales Associates with Technology Matters
Most retail associates can benefit from POS and clienteling solutions that provide access to customer analytics and other critical data right at their fingertips to better serve their customers. For example, clienteling enables retailers to use the information they’ve captured and also to derive personalized product recommendations. Associates can also use their POS solutions to check if an item is out-of-stock or to search inventory through their mobile device and place the order for their customer.
Enabling technologies in the store are mutually beneficial to both the customer and the retailer: a recent study found that 76% of consumers have a better in-store experience when retail sales associates are armed with technology. Using advanced technology can also help retailers overcome the challenge of high employee turnover. According to Retail Wire, 72% of associates are more likely to stay with a retailer if given the right tools and technology to enhance their jobs, and two-thirds said access to digital tools and technology is a must-have at a future retailer.
6. The use of Data Has Far-Reaching Implications for Retailers
Having access to data from all channels leads retailers to better understand cross-shopping habits, price sensitivity, preferred product types and product attributes, and lifestyle information. The use of data can thus have far-reaching implications for retailers, and key benefits include increased sellthrough, more effective outreach and targeted communications, more personalized interactions both online and in-store and visibility to stock availability across channels.