This post is sponsored by Teradata Corporation.
As the amount of data retailers must manage expands, the ability to quickly unlock the value of this data now is imperative. Leslie Dinham, Senior Business Consultant – Retail and Ecommerce, Teradata Corporation, talks about key issues and challenges facing retailers and how big data analytics can help address them.
Question: How have big data analytics evolved and how are retailers leveraging big data analytics today?
Leslie Dinham: Initially, retailers believed that big data had value but struggled to understand where and how it could be applied. For many retailers, ecommerce and marketing were the first areas to leverage big data. Ecommerce teams analyzed clickstream to measure email and website effectiveness. Personalization, often in the form of product recommendations, was an early focus for big data analytics.
New data types and more sophisticated tools, technologies and analytics have enabled retailers to expand the use of big data analytics across their organizations and continue to discover new ways to apply big data insights.
Big data enables marketing to move from customer segments to a “segment of one” and deliver highly targeted, relevant messaging and content. Customer insights can also be used by merchandising to drive customer-focused assortments and improve pricing and promotional planning and execution. Store operations can leverage sensor data and analytics to better understand traffic flow and staffing requirements. Cyber security and network analytics are top-of-mind topics for retailers.
Q: Why are retailers still struggling to deliver the holistic, connected customer experience?
LD: Many retailers are making progress towards delivering a seamless customer experience, but they still struggle to keep up with customer expectations. The connected customer experience requires data integration from operational systems and from inbound and outbound interaction points. Customer interaction points are rapidly evolving and as retailers integrate touch points, new ones emerge, making it a challenge to identify customers across touch points
The variety of data types requires retailers to evolve from traditional ETL and structured data to multi-layer, multi-technology data architecture. Retailers’ data architecture now must consider the “right” technology to store the data based on type, volume and use. They must also develop an analytic ecosystem that enables them to quickly and easily use data in analytics regardless of where the data is stored. Agility is key and retailers need to be able to quickly explore data, discover new insights, and drive rapid time to value (fail fast or succeed). Retailers also need operational systems, such as an integrated marketing application, that can operationalize these new insights.
And finally, delivering the connected customer experience is more than data and technology. Retailers must have a clear connected customer strategy and align their organizational structure, roles and skills to deliver on the desired customer experience.
Q: Which new capabilities and technologies are retailers exploring?
LD: The growth in mobile continues to drive innovation and retailers are developing new and exciting mobile capabilities. These include using in-store beams for real-time, personalized offers, recommendations, rewards and messaging. Retailers are testing mobile payment options and closely tying loyalty programs to expanded mobile capabilities.
Although digital is the fastest growing channel for most retailers, the majority of sales continue to be driven by brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers are exploring opportunities to improve the in-store experience through mobile POS, tablets or touch screens in fitting rooms and technology-enabled sales associates with extensive product and inventory information at their fingertips. In-store sensors can provide insights into customers’ paths through the store.
Customers seek an easy, convenient experience. Flexible fulfillment options provide accessibility to in-store inventory as well as the ability to buy and pick-up or ship from anywhere. Retailers are starting to take this to the next level by experimenting with same day delivery (and not via drones).
Q: What are the benefits of a data-driven customer experience?
LD: A data-driven customer experience allows retailers to better understand not just their customers’ purchases but also their behaviors, interests and preferences. Retailers can improve customer service and deliver a more personalized experience–online, on mobile devices and in store. They can provide their customers with the convenience of shopping wherever and however they prefer with the assurance that the products they want will be available.
Retailers who are bringing together customer data and leading analytics can ultimately drive increased customer engagement, loyalty and customer satisfaction, which translates to long-term revenue growth.
Leslie Dinham is focused on working with retailers to solve omni-channel and digital business issues such as single view of the customer, single view of product and inventory, identifying more website visitors, understanding the path of customer interaction across all channels of engagement (website, call center, store, and social), improving on-site search, optimizing marketing investments through attribution models, and creating personalized interactions with customers at the right time (including real time) and in the right channel.