The lingering pressures of COVID-19 and broader macroeconomic trends such as supply chain failures, climate change, growing food scarcity and a burgeoning energy crisis have resulted in rapidly rising inflation both in the U.S., U.K. (8.3% CPI and 9% inflation rate, respectively).
It all adds up to tighter pocketbooks and a tighter labor market. All of this has impressed upon retailers the need for significant efficiency gains to meet incremental sales goals, often by leveraging new technologies.
When seeking to improve efficiency, one of the first questions is “what do I already have that I’m not using?”
One of the clearest answers has been data, whether that means capturing available data points at the right moment from first-party sources or properly analyzing and deploying data points that are already captured to create personalized shopping experiences in the Web3, omnichannel shopping environment that is increasingly the projected norm.
In brief, retailers need a flexible approach that allows them to leverage new and emergent data streams (growing in complexity at a seemingly exponential rate) into swift and personalized omnichannel shopping experiences to drive engagement, loyalty, and more frequent repeat purchases.
In a recent podcast hosted by RETHINK Retail with Tal Rotman, vice president of partnerships and alliances at Namogoo, and Kunal Puri, vice president and head of customer success at Infosys Equinox, we discussed these challenges as well as their opportunities. While there are many approaches to this depending upon the needs of the brand, we have highlighted three things to consider.
Capturing (and Understanding) Your Data
Capturing data can be difficult or even impossible if a brand is not equipped with sharp data analytics teams that understand how to collect data in a scientifically sound way and deploy it to produce better outcomes.
“How do I realize value out of all this investment I’m making into [data collection?] How do I drive a consumer personalization strategy out of this?” asked Puri.
Furthermore, noted Rotman, the types of data streams retailers have grown accustomed to monitoring are no longer as valid: “[Third-party data such as] cookies or changes in iOS is going away. That’s not data that can’t be relied on anymore…First-party data is incredibly important [but] becoming harder to detect.”
Agreed Puri, “[The biggest challenge] that’s facing retailers out of everything that’s happening now…[is leveraging] the consumer behavior data that is now becoming available.”
Continued Rotman, the sheer amount of available data today is simply overwhelming: “[We are] able to identify that data [is an ability we have] at Namogoo to help retailers say [e.g.] ‘Hey, look, this particular section of your data set of your traffic is putting you into exposure. You need to go and remediate.”
While there are ways in-house strategic teams can employ strategies (e.g.) identify their key customers via data, establish Digital Relevance Maps (DRM), and set roadmaps for growth, for many retailers, this challenge calls for the services of dedicated data collection and analysis teams which, although investments, pay dividends in a digitally competitive world.
Improving the Customer Experience
Leveraging all that data is a tremendously rich subject and the strategies for doing so is truly myriad. From deploying marketing strategies based on generational data to deploying white label BNPL solutions, astute data analysis, and data personalization strategies can help combat the complexification that drives “inefficiencies in today’s merchandising organizations,” notes a McKinsey report.
A big question in all of these efforts is the generation of loyalty and repeat purchases in the face of increasingly savvy digital consumers with access to unprecedented comparative product data, particularly when seeking to personalize different stages of the journey.
Whether knowing when to allow customers to browse or identifying those who want that full engagement experience with a sales rep, data can help to identify who those customers are (or even those customers who are experiencing connectivity issues on their phones) without invading their privacy in a way Namogoo and Infosys consider outdated and inappropriate in the modern landscape:
“From the side of Namogoo, we’re very focused on ensuring that the visitor and the retailer aren’t exposed to any personal data issues,” Rotman assured.
“Infosys Equinox has helped to…drive what we call the human-centric experience,” noted Puri, something that couldn’t be accomplished without modern data streams and the analysis teams to make their magic work.
Preventing Interruptions and Hijacking from Competition
So you’ve analyzed your data (or employed an analysis team to do it for you) and are now beginning to roll out marketing and engagement plans which leverage your new omnichannel strategies. What a brand may not be prepared for, however, is how competitors can sweet it and capture the attention of what was so nearly your customer.
Indeed, it isn’t as widely known just how severe of an issue ‘hijacking’ and ‘interruptions’ in the modern digital consumer journey are today. During our interview Rotman noted that one of their best customers, Eddie Bauer, saw 22% of their sessions experience some form of customer journey hijacking.
This interrupts the designed experience many brands have spent millions to develop. “Their competition is out there to disrupt their buyer’s journey…20% of the visitors were having some sort of ad placed in the session from a competitor that diverted traffic. [Our services can help to divert that traffic.] We saw an increase of 3.82% in conversion just by preventing those illegitimate distractions from a brands’ visitor experience,” continued Rotman.
Concluding: How Third-Party Specialized Data Services can Help Overwhelmed Retailers Succeed
Now more than ever, retailers must deliver an end-to-end consumer journey for today’s omnipresent shoppers.
“You don’t want your consumer to have one journey and stop,” said Puri. “You want repeat purchases…it’s important to think about enabling or working with a partner organization or a set of partner organizations that work well together to deliver to your business outcomes.”
The digital age is here to stay. Hybrid shopping experiences are here to stay. If COVID taught retailers anything, data efficiency and flexibility are kings. If you find yourself daunted by the prospect of operationalizing data streams you barely even knew you were collecting, help is out there to stay competitive in a way that has simply become essential.