Why Retailers Need a New Data Strategy for the New Normal


The pandemic has driven significant changes in consumer behavior. There’s a lot of pressure to survive and thrive in the “new normal” and understand the lasting impact for retailers.

In response, retail leaders urgently need to get closer to their customers and understand their changing needs in real-time. Successful sellers are accelerating digital e-commerce transformations, enabling hyper-personalized omnichannel experiences and reimagining the in-store experience.

Silos of disconnected customer data support different retail functions

Data is one of the most valuable assets retailers have to better understand their customer needs and preferences. That means their preferred size, styles, method of communication from brands and more. Unfortunately, many retail leaders don’t have a holistic customer data strategy. Customer data is siloed across different functions.

Take a look at this image, which shows an example of the silos of customer data at an up-scale retailer:

Source: Reltio Market Research

By creating global, preference-rich customer data profiles with consent and communication preferences, the retailer was able to use this data to power their new customer data platform (CDP) for customer journey orchestration in just 90 days and accelerate their ROI. Because they also use this data to power their clienteling application, store associates can engage customers with more relevant offers, while working remotely. This has resulted in $2 million in sales per day during the pandemic. 

Now more than ever, customers demand seamless experiences across both digital and human touchpoints, and retailers who have siloed customer data are at a serious disadvantage. Without a global 360-degree view of customers across all functions and channels including transaction history, personalization efforts fail.  

But customers aren’t the only ones who suffer. Retail employees suffer too. 

Data and store associates 

In-store associates and digital stylists want to create superior customer experiences. They get frustrated because personalized information on customers, in real-time, is unreliable. Employees often don’t have a global identifier for customers or a global view of a “customer profile” across multiple brands and channels. They also lack a holistic view of customer transactions across stores and online channels.

Without an enterprise-wide customer data strategy to support their needs, it’s difficult for them to do their jobs quickly and effectively, and drive sales. 

Data and marketing teams

Marketing teams aspire to deliver hyper-personalized offers across all channels at-scale, while also respecting customer consent and communication preferences. To improve their effectiveness, marketers need access to that customer data. 

Better segmentation leads to more effective campaigns, empowering marketing teams to optimize spend and drive more sales, while simplifying compliance with privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA.

Case Study: Data and specialty retailers 

The marketing team at an athletic apparel retailer with ambitious plans for growth wasn’t happy with their conversion rates. Customers were interested in buying online, but their size wasn’t available, which resulted in lost sales and disappointed customers. Without a holistic view of their customers data, including transaction history across channels, they also fell short on the ROI from their customer data platform (CDP). 

But by implementing a new customer data strategy, now, the brand’s marketing team has access to customer profiles, which show a 360-degree view of their transactions, interactions, store associate relationships, and consent and communication preferences. They are now empowered to hyper-personalize offers and improve customer experience. 

Time for Action

It’s time to create a new customer data strategy to support the new normal. Innovative retailers are already utilizing this strategy and you don’t want to be left behind. They are sharing contextual views across functional teams including customer analytics and CDP, loyalty programs, points of sale, clienteling and digital channels.

They are supporting real-time operations at scale 24/7 for thousands of users, including at peak sales times. Because they are using customer data strategically, they are optimizing marketing spend, boosting sales and improving customer experience.

Jakki Geiger is chief marketing officer at Reltio.

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