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Why Investing In Data Can Help Future-proof Successful Retailers

04/09/2015

retailsuccess

The last year has seen a huge number of businesses assign increasing levels of importance to data. Indeed access to, and insight gleaned from, has been proven to give companies a competitive advantage in the marketplace so it is little wonder that this trend is growing.

The retail industry in particular has welcomed the data revolution. This is because data has played a large part in the retail industry over the years, ever since electronic point of sale (EPOS) technology was introduced and companies started being able to gain insight into their customers from the data being collected.

Even though the retail industry has been using data in this manner for some time, there have been a number of improvements made in recent years which, if taken on board, would provide companies with more opportunities to gain deeper insight into their customers’ behaviours. This is turn would allow companies to make faster and better-informed decisions, all of which would be based on altogether more accurate and reliable data.

Traditionally companies would have no idea about what the customer was thinking about when they were choosing a service or a physical product. They would have no idea why their customers might choose one particular product over another and what was most important to them during the decision making process.

However, these days we now have a variety of panel or algorithm-based solutions to help us address this, such as clickstream data. This data, used in eCommerce and multichannel retailing, provides us with a whole stream of data from when the customer first interacts with a particular product or a brand right through to when (and where) they make their purchase.

This means that a retailer, by analysing the different products a customer has looked at and finally chosen, can gain a more in-depth understanding about what their customer truly wants. A retailer would be able to see what kind of information their customers’ value. For instance, whether they like to read reviews and feedback or just product images, and whether their buying decisions were influenced by these factors or not. This insight can then be used by companies to personalise their customers’ experiences.

More and more companies are also using in-store traffic to gather data and learn from it. For instance in-store apps can be used to track customers and identify where they like to visit, what products they seem most tempted by etc. This kind of insight enables companies to send targeted offers to their customers when they are in-store (if they have a mobile device on them), and to also follow up on and remind customers about these offers once they have left the store, thus improving the chance of making a sale. 

Of course, retailers have to be careful with the data they are collecting, especially if such gathering actions can be deemed as invasive or spam. This is why it is important to ensure customers have the choice to opt-in to data gathering services. If a person opts in to such a service, it gives companies the added benefit of even more information because customers would have to provide their name and, at the very least, their email address. This information therefore enables even better personalised customer interactions, which will improve satisfaction rates and customer loyalty to the company brand.

Of course, the customer service centre is another area which can be fully utilised to build on the amount of data being collected and analysed. For instance, a company could run sentiment analysis on the voice data they record from customers calling in to report faults, complain, place an order or arrange for a collection. This sentiment analysis could be used to gauge the likely popularity (or unpopularity) of certain services and products.

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