Big data, a market worth $16.9 billion in 2015, has to be one of the most overused and sometimes misunderstood phrases of modern business, although it’s commonly accepted that it’s based on the premise that ‘information is king’.
For marketers, decisions are often made based on a combination of: the facts and intelligence held; the way that information is interpreted; information from past experiences; and our understanding about humans and how we behave.
The point about big data, in fact any data, is that it can be overwhelming and time-consuming to interrogate - and subsequently difficult to settle on key findings. Big data, together with ever-changing consumer behaviours, has created an increasingly commonplace 360-degree feedback loop. This loop involves companies making decisions based on consumer insight, and then using this insight in all aspects of their marketing. Actions can then be taken all because they are able to really listen to what customers think time and time again.
We prefer to talk about Total-data, not focusing on one element such as big data. To us it means analysing gathered information and interpreting it so that this is ‘usable’: accessible, timely and accurate. The next step is using it to test conclusions, thereby changing and evolving decisions by testing and learning.
Total-data architecture creates a sustainable framework to support BI (business intelligence), data management and data governance, ensuring in this way that big data can add value. The usability point is key but so often the aspect that many organisations fall down on. So how can Total-data be used to solve critical business problems and scenarios involved in running a first-class retailer today?
The ultimate position to be in is when you can combine online and offline behaviour like conversations. Creating full omni-channel engagement which starts from what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) through to the customer’s social network presence. With the balance of power increasingly shifting to the consumer, smart retailers also successfully use analytics models to look to the future.
Yet, plenty of retailers are understandably blinded by big data and so planning and operational capabilities are impacted. Architecture-led planning or a capability-led road map, developed jointly by the IT and business functions, will help retailers to get the maximum benefit from big data in the long term. Taking this step allows CIOs, CMOs and all functions to not only gain an enterprise view of the business, but to ensure that every decision taken delivers business value.
Look differently at opportunities at customer touch-points in retail
Customer experience and personalisation:
Our view is there is nothing more important than this. Don’t think separately about the smartphone and the physical store, use the customer’s smartphone as ‘pocket infrastructure’ to maximise store selling space by digitising the full product or service range, and to provide in store personalised offers or even pricing.
Even personalised tours through a richly designed store could point out items it believes each customer would like. Use digital technology to show customers online what customers are buying in-store and vice versa. Use it to enhance fulfilment options such as click & collect and order in-store & deliver to home.
Employees and service:
The employee experience will impact the customer experience. Use digital infrastructure to enhance the employee’s knowledge of available products, services and customers’ account information. Staff should have access to at least the same information as customers – obvious but rarely true.
All retailers want all their employees that have direct contact with customers to have valuable information to empower them to give the best service possible. Crucially it is also about employees being able to pass useful feedback from customers back into the company. For a store assistant, knowing how a previous problem has been solved will help build on the conversation and a long-term relationship, demonstrating to the customer that the retailer is listening.
Operations: Allowing customers to track deliveries is becoming the norm and digital receipts can reduce costs and give flexibility to customers. But are we using these services to simplify in-store operations and improve availability?
By Daren Ward, partner at Retail Reply
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