Now, more than ever, consumers are demanding a personalised shopping experience. Adding to the challenge for retailers, the way consumers buy products and services has changed, due in part to the digital revolution, and accelerated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Gary Allemann, MD of Master Data Management

Retailers across all sectors have been forced to shift and create an online experience, but data shows an omnichannel retail strategy, combining physical stores with an online presence, is more viable than a purely online one.

How do retailers decide where to locate their stores? And how do they understand shifting buying patterns to tailor the experience to their consumers? On top of this, how do they ensure they comply with regulations around data privacy, while making data available for analysis and ensuring that insights can be trusted? Data integrity is the key to accurate insight, a seamless customer experience and a successful omnichannel retail strategy.


High expectations

Online shopping has become increasingly popular. It is fast, efficient, and supports the current requirement for social distancing. According to Salesforce, in 2019, 87% of consumers began their shopping journey with digital, a jump from 71% in 2017. This figure has undoubtedly increased over the years.

The online retail space is also extremely competitive, so retailers need to ensure that the customer experience they provide is exceptional. Consumers today demand personalised experiences, and if they do not get what they want, they will shop elsewhere. A Precisely white paper highlights this with statistics from Marketing Dive: 48% of shoppers abandon brand websites and purchase from a competitor when they are subjected to a poorly personalised experience and 66% depart due to poor customer service.

Knowing the customer, understanding their requirements and preferences, and providing a seamless and consistent experience requires data. There is no shortage of data available today: according to PRNewswire, “more than 70% of millennials and Gen Z belong to loyalty programs”. However, beyond simply access to information, it requires insight, which means data needs to be analysed, and it needs to be accurate and high quality.

If retailers’ data is poor quality, the experiences they deliver will be less than satisfactory. Conversely, if one retailer’s data is better than their competitor’s, their insights will be a source of competitive advantage and differentiation.


The halo effect

A report from Harvard Business Review states that 73% of consumers use multiple channels to shop, which means that it is good strategy for retailers to operate across channels. Businesses that use multiple channels are more profitable, the halo effect in retail refers to the trend of people being more inclined to shop at an online retailer if they have a physical presence. However, customers also expect a seamless and consistent experience across physical and online stores. An omnichannel experience is critical, and again requires quality, trusted data of high integrity.


Location, location, location

When a physical presence is required, retailers need to make the most accurate and informed decision as to the best location. Location intelligence is critical in understanding not only customers and their buying patterns, but also the competitor landscape in a region. It is also increasingly important to understand how the physical location of a brand impacts sales both on premises and online. In addition, location intelligence helps retailers to more effectively manage stock levels to optimising purchasing and deliver a smoother customer experience.


Up for the challenge

Knowing the customer, being able to analyse data in real time to deliver trusted insight, understanding the relationship between customer location and customer experience, are all key in delivering effective omnichannel retail. All of these factors also hinge on data quality, which in turn is essential in ensuring compliance with data privacy requirements like the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA). Data integrity and effective data governance not only helps to ensure compliance, it delivers better visibility and control over data, for trusted data that results in accurate business insight.

Data-driven retail is the future. To find out how data can be used to better reach customers and compete more effectively across channels, download this white paper from Forbes Insights in association with Precisely.