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Retailers must think beyond traditional customer data to stay in the game


Software solutions provider Pitney Bowes has laid down the law regarding customer data for the retail industry.

Perhaps you’ve been labouring under the delusion that old-school broad customer data will do the trick when it comes to growing your retail business. I’m afraid not.

According to the Pitney Bowes peeps, a highly-personalised customer experience is essential to ensuring customer loyalty in the current economic climate. And central to that is having the right kind of data.

Pitney Bowes Software general manager customer analytics, Chris Lowther, says: “With such fierce competition both domestically and internationally, the Australian retail industry must ensure it keeps up with the data revolution. If it doesn’t, companies risk missing valuable insights that would help them improve their
customer experience.”

“We see companies using their data well achieving increases of over 140% in cross and up sell effectiveness.”

Here’s what your retail business should be all over when it comes to data:

1. Empower frontline employees

Data isn’t just for you, marketing department! Selfish.

Despite store employees interacting with customers daily, typically they have the least tools available to record customer preferences. As a direct result staff may make the same mistakes with customers time and time again.

Allowing front line staff to record customer information can facilitate a much more relevant and useful conversation.

“Customer loyalty is all about personalisation, and personalisation is about having the data and being able to make use of it – insight into action,” Lowther says.

2. Trace the customer’s purchase history

Knowing a customer’s purchase history can add value to future interactions. Retailers can gain information about what they bought and how they bought it.

If a customer traditionally buys online and is now in store it may indicate they have encountered a problem with the website. The retailer can improve customer experience by showing awareness. It also feeds into successful cross-selling.

“Knowing your customers well provides opportunities to tailor offers for them and avoid situations which might see the customer ignore offers completely.”

3. Use data to win back your opt-outs

When a customer opts-out of communications it effectively disables a company’s marketing function. It can then be difficult to reinitiate a relationship.

Empowering in-store employees and customer service with data to identify opt-outs allows them to gather valuable information on why the customer opted out, and create new opportunities to reinitiate communication through personalisation.

4. Capture information for the future

Think about the long term. You may not be ready for an entire data strategy, but start collecting data now.

Capturing customer information will help your business build a loyal customer base in the future. In an ideal world retailers would capture details of every customer interaction.

5. Think about where customers are shopping

Customers want offers that are tailored to them and every interaction is a learning opportunity. If someone only ever shops online, sending them a store voucher could be a waste of time and money.

“A back-to-school offer is only likely to interest people with school age children, for example. Customers may be insulted to receive information on plus-size clothing.”

“Retailers must get their data in order if they want to stay head of the game. It is not as daunting a task as it might seem, and the results are invariably very rewarding.”