Data can drive customer profiles and sales.
One of the core challenges of modern retailing is tracking customers activities across channels in order to market to them effectively. For example, it's extremely important that merchants be able to notify the person about to make a purchase in-store that there's a coupon that can be redeemed through their phone before completing the transaction at the physical location.This all starts by creating robust customer profiles that can be used to effectively target prospects with relevant content based on their interests and location.
"The buying process has never been more complex
," Practical eCommerce explained. "Consumers have hundreds of places online to purchase products that meet their needs. They may shop at home, at work, in the grocery store. They may be using an Android phone, an iPhone or an Xbox."
Know who they are
First retailers must understand who their customers are. This often includes basic demographic information, such as age, gender, marital status, income level, education, location and profession. Who they are is the foundation on which customer profiles should be based, and in many instances, these aspects can be inferred or easily found out by simply asking for the information from customers.
Practical eCommerce suggests looking for other data points as well. Beyond those basics, subsequent information may be hard to collect. For instance, interests and activities can inform purchase decisions but this data isn't always easy to obtain.
Once this basic information has been collected, brands can begin looking to expand their customer profiles by looking at behavioral data. This is where cross-channel tracking and the consolidation of information into one database becomes crucial – if retailers can't attribute various actions and activities to specific customers, they will struggle to create relevant profiles.
Possible data points for retailers to consider include: response rates to marketing efforts (for example, opening an email could be considered a sign of interest in a promoted item), time spent on specific product pages, items viewed, clicked, searched and added to shopping carts and redemption rates on coupons.
Connecting the dots
The key is looking beyond just single-channel metrics and analytics
. Retailers are no strangers to crunching numbers to maximize revenue potential. However, the increasingly omnichannel shopping behaviors of customers should push merchants to take a different look at metrics.
In fact, treating each shopping channel as distinct, separate avenues may even create misconceptions and lead merchants to take the wrong course of action. For example, if they aren't aware that a customer received a mobile coupon before buying an item, they might assume the sale was generated from an in-store display.
"When it comes to retailers with multiple distribution channels, however, new behavior patterns can be observed
," a white paper from the Institute of Information Systems explained. "Given the fact that multi-channel retailing is much more common than Internet-only, the analysis of consumer behavior in a multi-channel context constitutes a challenge for the deeper understanding of e-business."
By creating detailed customer profiles, merchants will be better able to improve the shopping experience for their patrons. They can more effectively stock the right products, improve the relevancy of sales, refine their marketing efforts, identify gaps in service and take other similar actions.