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e-Commerce Industry News

June 12, 2017
Release Data from Silos to Really Know Your Customers
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June 12, 2017
Using data has become an indispensable part of providing an ideal retail experience for your customers. When major players such as Amazon make a move into a space, they do so with the backing of big, fast-moving data. To fight back against the decision-making acumen leading organizations get from their information, omnichannel and eCommerce organizations of all sizes need to make moves to use their knowledge strategically.

Unfortunately, there are a few logistical facts that tend to stop companies from using their data effectively. When eCommerce platforms aren't up to the task, information can become trapped in silos. When the various parts of an organization can't keep tabs on one another, it's hard to truly assess customer wants and needs, or to know the kind of facts that will help a business get ahead of its competitors.

Furthermore, true omnichannel operations entail communication between every piece of the business, from retail stores to every web channel. Unless data spans the whole organization, it may have trouble presenting the united face that defines omnichannel operations.
Data should pour in from all channels and be considered together. Data should pour in from all channels and be considered together.

Making data work
While the buzz today is all about "big data" rather than small data, there's an art to choosing the right facts to capture, analyze and share, and pure scale isn't always the right variable to focus on. Retail Touchpoints contributor Rich Wagner explained that companies tend to love the potential of data but fail to make the most of it, at least without advantageous analytics partnerships. He added that high-speed actionable data is the main type of information to look for, rather than simply any available content.
"While transaction data is important and can be telling, it doesn't stand alone."

Wagner suggested that companies look outside their walls and combine the data they mine from their own various channels with information offered by third parties. To build a truly useful portrait of consumer interests and behavior, it pays to learn what members of the target demographic are pursuing in general, not just when they're directly interacting with the company. While transaction data is important and can be telling, it doesn't stand alone.

Many potential improvements
Once a more effective data analysis framework is in place, companies will start to feel effects both large and small. Information Management contributor Gloria Kopp specified that companies with data on their side can change their approach to the market, using leading signals about interest to change focus. When eCommerce businesses become great at this kind of analysis, it can feel like precognition, reacting to changes in focus that haven't yet become apparent to people without data access.

While big-picture data is revealing of macro trends, there is also value to be had from creating individual profiles. Kopp specified that when organizations manage to pull together relevant facts and generate histories for single consumers, they can determine which offers and discounts are meeting with the most interest. The results from these efforts will reveal whether there is adequate value in offering incentives such as free shipping, or whether direct discounts are more interesting.
Data that spans a whole omnichannel company has many uses. Data that spans a whole omnichannel company has many uses.

Cornerstone of the experience
When omnichannel companies attempt to synchronize and improve the customer experience between their online and in-person outlets, in-depth consumer data insights will be one of the best tools at their disposal. Smart Traffik CEO Laurent Simonin told Retail Customer Experience that truly successful omnichannel companies break down their silos and keep the data flowing. If there are hard divisions between channels, shoppers may find very different experiences at shops and websites that bear the same name.

At its best, data integration involves one set of customer data for the whole infrastructure. Simonin gave Retail Customer Experience the example of a staff member in a store being able to pull up a complete transaction history for a customer who has dealt with the organization through multiple channels over the years. That content is good fuel for analytics, and widespread access to it increases its value.

Erasing the lines
Companies that are hoping to expand from online operations to the physical world, or brick-and-mortar retailers hoping to add eCommerce features should note that their data must move between their channels. Furthermore, companies that deal with both types of commerce should be comfortable joining their data reserves together to create a seamless and impressive customer experience. There is value to be had from analytics, and businesses should refuse to limit their potential with silos.