If you’re in the retail space, the conversation of “delivering the ultimate customer experience” is as prolific as conversations about inventory management, supply chain operations and P&L statements. It’s top of mind as retailers look to capitalize on industry white space, remain competitive in overly saturated markets and see retention soar.

In fact, Gartner contends that by 2018, more than 50 percent of organizations will implement significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience. This includes investing in the right technologies, bringing uniform consistency across retail channels and activating self-service tools. But amidst all the talk about the customer experience has to be a conversation about big data—specifically the fact that retailers need to rely on analytics as their No. 1 driver in bolstering the customer experience.

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Before you can even begin to pinpoint the tactics that will help you move the needle with your customer experience, you need to approach it with a data-first mentality. You’ll want to have the answers to questions like:

  • How much time are your existing and prospective customers spending in either your brick-and-mortar facility, website or both?
  • Are your existing and prospective customers driven by a self-service or high-touch, people-centric model?
  • How much traffic are you seeing outside your brick-and-mortar shop that you are missing the chance to market to?
  • What’s the last page online shoppers visit before bouncing from your site and not completing a purchase?

In the retail space, you essentially have two points of contact with your customers: those inside and outside your business, whether that’s virtual or physical. As such, the question becomes: how do you touch them no matter how they come in contact with your business and glean the pertinent data that will help you drive profit expediently?

For instance, if your customer is in the makeup department of your store, how can you tee up coupons via mobile device in real-time about a sale you are running in the women’s shoe department? Similarly, how can you push out coupons offering “20% off your smoothie before 10 am” right when your prospect walks by your building at 9:30 am? It’s equally important to gain data that helps you understand your existing customers better, as it is to understand the large swath of customers you are missing daily and why.

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As you begin to construct your strategy for making better use of customer analytics, you may want to keep the following in mind:

  • Consider Cloud: Everybody today is thinking about the cloud, how to get into it and how to embrace cloud technologies with the least impact to their business and the flow of their business. Cloud data processing can provide a myriad of opportunities to retailers looking to get a handle on their big data; enhance agility; enjoy access to new data sources; store data affordably; and access data in real-time.
  • Aggregate Your Data: Here at Carousel, we have helped numerous retail clients—with multiple locations—unify their data into one central repository for swift, accurate decision making. Whether you’re looking to derive insight into inventory tracking, point of sale or supply chain logistics, having a common collection point for your data will allow you to quickly, efficiently and securely access your data.
  • Make the Most of Your IT Resources: Too many retailers ignore the insight they can gain from big data simply because sifting through all the data can be cumbersome and overwhelming. If you fall into that boat, you may want to re-examine how you are allocating your IT resources. A number of retailers are considering a managed services model for their big data processing. Through our Carousel Managed Services offering, for example, we allow our clients to focus on what’s most important on their corporate agenda while we handle the managed services piece of aggregating, mining and making sense of customer data.

While the customer experience will always remain top of mind, the analytics equation of the experience should not be an after-thought. Rather, it’s the governing tactic to inform the changes and improvements you will make to your customer experience.

What about you? How are you approaching customer analytics? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below or directly at pmillette@carouselindustries.com.