Customers today expect brands to understand what's important to them as a consumer. Research shows that 78% of online shoppers are more likely to purchase from a retailer that delivers personalised experiences. Retailers need to make online shoppers feel important and show them items that are relevant and timely. This consumer appetite, coupled with the highly-competitive nature of the industry and its razor-thin margins, makes retail a tough nut to crack.

Therefore, offering tailored experiences has become a matter of survival for retailers. Implementing a 'single customer view' – also known as '360-customer view' – makes it possible for brands to do just that, and at scale.

This approach focuses on putting the needs of the individual customer at the heart of the marketing strategy to deliver the best possible customer experience. It's all about using growing amounts of data from individual shoppers, and organising and structuring it in a way that allows you to glean insights on their values, preferences and habits.

Making use of these data insights can improve segmentation and personalisation, enabling retailers to deliver smarter marketing campaigns – campaigns that are more accurate and cost-effective. This is why retailers should be putting the single-customer view at the heart of their marketing strategies.

Data-centricity drives superior customer experiences
To achieve a single customer view, brands need to be data-centric. This involves putting data at the forefront of every business decision. It's only through data that retailers are genuinely able to understand each customer's needs and expectations.
It's reassuring that a staggering 82% of retailers are committed to implementing a data-centric strategy over the next five years, with almost a third stating that it is already in place.

So, what role does data analytics play in helping retailers develop this data-centrism to gain a better idea of what customers want? And, how can a single-customer view be used to improve other aspects of a business?

Data is ubiquitous
Data is everywhere in your organisation – from ERP, CRM, PoS, order management, e-commerce platforms, social media channels, sensor data and in-store activity. The list is endless and quite daunting at that. Without the right tools and resources in place, gleaning data and insights from these channels is going to be a complete waste of time and money.

A single customer view is about more than just storing data. It requires a fully-defined strategy and data to be accessible and useable by marketers. Retailers need technology that can sort through the data and help them understand the information contained within it. They also need to visualise the data in a way that allows different business teams to understand the story the data is telling.

Applying data insights to a single customer view
Retailers that successfully develop a data strategy and deploy the right technology and tools to help them get real business value from it will have a more accurate understanding of their customer's behaviour.

With the right information, they can make informed decisions across platforms and make adjustments to promotions, price and product stocks in real-time based on customer behaviours. Ultimately, they can tailor their marketing to the individual's preferences, delivering measurable value and ROI.

Some key areas where a single customer view offers enormous benefits are:
• On-target targeting – Regardless of the channel or platform, being precise and specific with your targeting can significantly improve ROI. For instance, if you understand what types of promotions a customer likes, sending them emails on those specific offers will lead to increased sales.
• The ultimate CX and beyond – Implementing a single customer view not only helps with generating additional sales, but it also helps build a stable relationship with the customer. Put simply, if you deliver an experience that aligns with your customers' expectations, values and preferences, you will earn their loyalty and ultimately secure repeat customers.
• Attribution – the problem child – Determining precisely what led to a purchase is notoriously tricky for retailers. With so many channels and platforms (from PPC, traditional marketing, word of mouth, and so on) it's no wonder that attribution has caused headaches for brands in the past. However, a single customer view allows you to track customer interactions and chart the journey to the point of sale. It also provides a more auditable trail for attribution that enables companies to showcase the real value of marketing.

One step closer to achieving a single customer view
Many retailers appreciate the need to be data-centric as a critical factor in business success. The trouble is, many aren't using data analytics to its full potential yet. According to the latest research, 70% of retailers are using data for marketing and sales decisions. However, only 46% have implemented data analytics to understand their customers' needs and omnichannel behaviour better.

Adopting the right data strategy and taking advantage of the latest in-memory analytical databases will be pivotal to brands' ability to understand and anticipate the needs of customers.

Customer experience is the pulse of every business, with consumers today expecting relevant, convenient and responsive engagement across every interaction they have with a brand. Implementing a single-customer view will go a long way to delivering these personalised and tailored experiences that today's consumers crave.


Written by Helena Schwenk, Market Intelligence Lead, Exasol

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