3 Ways Customer Data Platforms Can Help Rescue Retail
U.S. retail sales grew 5.1 percent in the 2018 holiday season, but this doesn’t mean retailers should consider revenues all wrapped up. In the past year, 15 of the biggest names in U.S. retail have filed for bankruptcy, and now more than ever retailers need to harness the most valuable tool they have at their disposal to survive—data.
While digital shopping is a major factor in the bricks-and-mortar shakeout—with e-commerce holiday spending alone set to reach $134 billion—it’s not the only cause. Today’s consumers want consistency, personalization, and flexibility; that’s why successful brands are connecting the dots between all customer interactions—be they online, in-store, or via an app—using a customer data platform (CDP) to provide a first-class, seamless consumer experience.
In addition to embracing data and CDP technology the retail sector needs to get HIP: what The Relevancy Group defines as a Holistic, Integrated, and Persistent customer view.
Embracing HIP Technology
Most retailers recognize that the greatest benefit of the shift in shopping habits is increased availability of data that can provide the perfect basis for delivering engaging experiences. But transforming multiple fragments of data into clean, accurate, and up-to-date insight is a challenge—and this is what the CDP aims to address. Essentially, CDPs can help retail brands harness disparate data sources and make them usable, generating complete customer understanding through management and unification.
To explain exactly how they do so, let’s examine those key HIP attributes:
1. Holistic: A Broader Data Scope
In an attempt to streamline operations, retailers are now using numerous experience and communications platforms. According to Deloitte, many are juggling up to 39 different front-end systems for point-of-sale, mobile, call center, e-commerce, email marketing, and social and content management. As these systems work in isolation, key customer and prospect information is trapped in pockets across the organization. In short, it’s siloed. This is why the first tenet of HIP technology is the ability to “interface with and encompass [a] wide variety of data sources.” CDPs are the master adapter that plugs into other systems in a retailer’s tech stack and orchestrates data sets so they flow freely. Opening up channels makes it possible to move on to the next stage: consolidation.
2. Integrated: The 360-Degree View
The second issue with siloed platforms is that they tend to manage data differently and generate data in varied forms. So even after retailers have amassed their single pool of insights from all channels—including physical stores, apps, websites, and chatbots—it can still be difficult to reconcile data, not to mention the risk that information from separate systems may contain duplicate data or errors. Hence HIP principle two: the capacity to unify “diverse data sources together seamlessly, accurately and cleanly mapping to individual[s] and their journeys.”
Typically, CDPs achieve this via careful orchestration. Initially data is integrated, converted into the same language, and cleansed of inaccuracies and duplications. This single data layer is then stitched and enriched, which involves instantly analyzing data at collection and molding it to build profiles. An essential part of this is incorporating insight from devices once owners are identified: linking individuals to device IDs and updating profiles. Put together, this creates a 360-degree customer profile—a vital tool for any retailer hoping to provide a valuable customer experience. This information not only gives retailers the means to personalize advertising and interactions, but also to ensure online and offline unity. For instance, details about mobile orders can drive conversations with call center support teams, or desktop searches can be used to serve email offers featuring discounts for local real-world stores.
Plus, a centralized data pool has an added bonus: it makes compliance easier. With stringent data privacy now a non-negotiable necessity for insight handling—be that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act 2018—retailers need complete oversight of data so they can apply robust safety measures and adhere to access requests quickly.
3. Persistent: Keeping Data Current
Finally we come to the need for continued relevancy For experiences to always hit the right mark, they must be informed by fresh insight, or as The Relevancy Group advises: “evolving, always-available, and always-updated data.” As a result, the data orchestration processes CDPs follow must function in real time. They need to constantly collect new data from multiple systems and sources, before immediately configuring and turning it into profiles. This allows CDPs to offer a truly reliable foundation for ongoing multichannel engagement.
Digitalization might be changing the face of main streets and malls but customer experience remains king. Today’s audiences demand personalization as standard no matter the channel, and speedy interactions with “in the moment” relevance are vital. By leveraging CDPs that can blend, cleanse, and organize data into actionable profiles, retailers will obtain the key ingredients earning lasting loyalty—and get truly HIP.
Adam Corey is Tealium’s chief marketing officer, responsible for driving awareness around the power of Tealium and cultivating alliances with best-of-breed customer data solutions. He has more than 13 years of experience in digital analytics, marketing, and business development. Prior to joining Tealium, Corey led the solutions consulting groups at Upsight and CrowdFactory (now part of Marketo). He also previously led technical production efforts at ABCNEWS.com.