Data Analytics

How Retailers Can Keep Pace Alongside Dynamic Customers

Traci Curran

August 2, 2022

Having a complete, 360-degree view of a customer is paramount for businesses to create successful customer experience programs

The rapid pace of change and acceleration of digital transformation brought on by the pandemic isn’t news anymore; hybrid working environments and limits to in-person commerce forced businesses across diverse sectors to modernize the way they work, and their tech stacks to keep up with demand. However, one side effect of this rapid pace of change is the way businesses view and approach their customer experience (CX).

Having a complete, 360-degree view of a customer is paramount for businesses to create successful CX programs, but organizations were often only pulling this information from one single data source, or from internal data sourced by a single department. This may have worked in the past, but as customers have diversified their approach to everyday life and obtaining goods and services, organizations need to reconsider how they’re analyzing consumers if they want to continue to scale.

Complicating this, especially in the retail sector, is the rash of supply chain issues around the globe in the past few years. Everything from inventory shortages to shipping vessels held at a standstill have caused massive delays and headaches for the retail industry. Revitalizing CX after supply chain issues can be difficult, but with the right approach to customer analysis, there are possibilities.

Creating a 360-Degree Profile of Customers

What’s also tricky for retailers is the rate at which the pandemic (and subsequent supply chain issues) opened consumers’ eyes to the number of options available to them. A recent McKinsey study found that 75% of US consumers tried out a new store, brand, or way of shopping during the pandemic. This presents new or resurfaced challenges for retailers and other businesses who have not prioritized nurturing their customers throughout their buyer journey and those who do not have a holistic view of their consumers.

Additionally, over 80% of US consumers say they have begun using more digital channels than they had in 2019. This surge in omnichannel experiences increasingly places retailers in a tough spot – consumers are more willing today to try alternative options and even forego brand loyalty. Now enter marketing and customer experience teams tasked with the challenge of delivering the highest quality and most sustainable CX possible.

How can thoughtful and ambitious businesses build and nurture the strongest CX? One way to do this is by thinking outside of their traditional data sources for their full, 360-degree view of who their target audiences are.

Example data sources include social media, search, and previous touch points such as past orders or newsletter engagement to accurately map out where customers exist on their journey. In doing so, businesses can provide real-time insights and analysis of who their customer is by integrating the data within CX efforts. The “real-time” part is the most critical value for businesses if they want to continue nurturing and keeping their customers happy.

Optimization in the Fashion Business

The rub here is that the data integration part isn’t always easy. Consider the French fashion retailer, Kiabi. As the company experienced surges in business, their legacy data analytics and integration systems were unable to provide them with on-the-fly insights on their 20+ million customers. What’s worse was having trouble scaling alongside their growing customer base. For example, when it came to tracking the reasons for markdowns, it was difficult to use the data to pinpoint a cause.

Taking the initiative to modernize their systems, Kiabi leveraged Actian’s Customer 360 Analytics Solution and saw immediate results that generated real-time insights on existing sales data and underpins Kiabi’s use of business intelligence (BI) tools including Business Objects and Tableau Software. Integration between the database and BI tools is transparent to the business users, freeing them to focus on analyzing sales and marketing programs to gain deeper insights and improve decision-making.

The result was a massive reduction in physical data size, and an increase in ability to pinpoint causes of markdowns by analyzing millions of sales records. The most important element for Kiabi in adapting and modernizing their CX systems was the ability to scale and answer customer questions quickly and effectively. As a result, customers felt that their needs were being addressed, while Kiabi continued to grow and adapt alongside changing needs.

Given the spikes in ecommerce and the dynamic needs of today’s customers, businesses can’t afford not to optimize their CX efforts through a greater investment in data integration. This has been a challenge for CX teams, with nearly 50% of marketers saying adopting new marketing solutions is their biggest challenge.

While adapting to change and onboarding new technologies is difficult, it’s a reality for many businesses (but particularly customer-centric ones like retailers). Retailers and CX teams must prioritize the rapid personalization of the customer experience by creating micro-segments of their audience, analyzing when and why customers churn out, and then performing deep analysis to determine next actionable steps.

Traci Curran headshot

About Traci Curran

Traci Curran serves as Director of Product Marketing at Actian focused on the Actian Data Platform. With more than 20 years of experience in technology marketing, Traci has previously held senior marketing roles at CloudBolt Software, Racemi (acquired by DXC Corporation), as well as some of the world’s most innovative startups. Traci is passionate about helping customers understand how they can accelerate innovation and gain competitive advantage by leveraging digital transformation and cloud technologies.