Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

Online retail winners deliver with data-driven customer experience

By Brian Cluster, Director Industry Strategy- CPG & Retail, Stibo Systems

There’s no denying it: the UK high street was on a downward spiral long before the pandemic hit, and the lockdown did nothing to help. While some in-store retailers weathered the storm and picked up the pieces post-pandemic, there’s a lesson to be learned here: the battle wasn’t won based on who had an ecommerce offering and who didn’t. The winners were those who managed to engage customers most meaningfully online, and who capitalised on data to provide the best customer experience.

Amidst digital-first online powerhouses like Boohoo buying up big brands like Debenhams, Oasis, Warehouse, Karen Millen and Coast, does the rest of retail have any hope? The answer lies in not just accurate customer data, but relevant customer data that is applied strategically to deliver a customer centric experience.

How to Compete on the Basis of CX

The pandemic has caused a huge drive in online shopping, and personalisation is top of the consumer agenda. Last year, McKinsey & Company reported that 83% of customers want their shopping experience to be personalised in some way.

Many retailers already have fully functioning ecommerce offerings to accommodate these trends, but few have transitioned to making better use of the vastly increased customer interaction data flowing in to serve their customers in a better, more personalised way.

What Can Data Actually Do for CX?

Data-driven CX is an opportunity ripe for picking and here’s why: UK companies are failing when it comes to providing a good customer experience. In January 2021, the UK Satisfaction Index measured satisfaction levels at 76.8 out of 100, which is the lowest score since July 2015.

In a time where we’ve got more customer data available to us than ever before, why are companies doing worse? There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, companies don’t know enough useful information about their customers, so it’s impossible for them to engage meaningfully because they don’t understand their customers.

This is often the case because customer data lives in siloes and is stored and applied inconsistently across enterprises. This can make it difficult to understand who the customer is or to deliver truly personalised or customer centric experiences.

Secondly, there is simply too much data and there is no systematic way of collecting and consolidating it for their business teams. Many companies fail to consolidate their data into a single source of truth. If you can’t consolidate information sources such as customer, product, supplier and location data, then you’re not in a strong position to provide a personalised CX because you won’t have the deep data transparency required to recognise opportunities.

Some companies aren’t aware of the opportunities that exist in the data-driven CX lifecycle, and the reality is that the possibilities are endless. It all starts with delivering trusted, personalised information, which can fuel confident buying decisions and build stronger, better relationships with customers.

Data can also improve and underpin the CX lifecycle and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by making engagements completely customer-centric. By cleansing, enriching and sharing personalised, accurate data in a personalised way with customers, you can improve the value of your marketing spend while also increasing customer relationship integrity.

One area that few companies are able to take advantage of is the complex data that may live in hierarchies and relationships. If you can extract this data and better understand it, you can use it to enhance your customer personalisation strategies. These may include giving your customers personalised product data, so that you can improve your upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Or you can appeal to them by being geographically relevant with engaging content on local events and happenings. Integrating preferences such as favourite store location delivers a personalised approach that builds customer confidence and preference. Even understanding communication frequency can make a significant impact.

At the end of the day, the data you collect should be able to empower your customers with managed visibility into product attributes that are relevant to their evolving interests. If it’s not relevant and building long-term loyalty, the budget allocated to any data management system may not be generating the return on investment you might expect.

If digital is the shopping channel of choice, experience is the new brand. The game will be won by fast, adaptable companies that can provide the best customer experience. The ability to deliver this depends on quick access to accurate and trustworthy customer data that can be used to deliver a personalised, customer centric experience.


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