Integration, Location and Mobile: Three Keys to Enhanced Analytics for Retailers

Last month, our team attended Imperial Capital’s 2014 Consumer Summit, where we heard several fantastic presentations regarding trends that are currently reshaping the retail industry. One of the overarching themes was how new data analytics are providing retailers with dizzying depths of insights into how they can more effectively anticipate and deliver on their customers’ shifting wants and needs.

My colleague, Ted Vaughan, wrote a post back in January that offered the top five omnichannel challenges facing retailers in 2014. All five are essential pieces to the puzzle as retailers integrate their digital service offerings and extract as much value as possible out of their data, but one stands out as a critical lynchpin: becoming omnianalytical.

Retailers understand that there is value in mining big data, and according to our 2014 Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, many companies are pouring resources into their multi-channel efforts. But investing in analytics capabilities can be intimidating without fully understanding best practices and the potential ROI. In fact, our 2013 Retail Compass Survey of CMOs found that nearly nine-in-ten retailers are still struggling to integrate and manage their data, down only slightly from 93 percent in 2012, and 44 percent cite difficulties in effectively transforming these troves of data into actionable insights.

With that in mind, here are three tips for retailers to keep in mind when revamping their approach to analytics:
Don’t become siloed: The most successful approach to omnichannel analytics incorporates data from every available channel and integrates the information into a complete picture. When companies look beyond point of sale data and connect the dots between in-store customer behavior, e-commerce activity, social media engagement and mobile platform efficacy, they are well-equipped to optimize all aspects of their business—from marketing, to merchandising and supply chain operations, to loss prevention. The result? Customers’ experience is enhanced, and margins increase.

It’s all about location: When it comes to in-store analytics, retailers are honing in. Advanced new technologies, including face-scanning, body heat mapping and 3D customer tracking, provide retailers with unprecedented abilities to understand and optimize in-store customer traffic and product engagement. In-store mobile usage via Wi-Fi networks can also provide insights into potential showrooming or competitive pricing activity, and provide a conduit for personalized, geo-targeted marketing campaigns.

Unlock mobile’s potential: As customers are increasingly using mobile devices before, during and after the point of sale, these platforms now offer retailers huge amounts of important data. Still, there’s significant work to be done in order to map and trace mobile transactions, and robust mobile offerings are generally lagging aside from a few standout retailers that are leading the charge, such as Target. For those retailers that are hesitant to track their customers inside stores for fear of privacy concerns, these worries can be mitigated: In exchange for location information, retailers are now offering customers loyalty and promotion apps, as well as free in-store Wi-Fi. These strategies enhance the customer experience and provide the retailer with invaluable data.

Stay tuned to the blog in the weeks ahead as we continue to cover impactful trends and developments in the e-commerce and omnichannel landscape, including an upcoming post on the industry’s online delivery wars.

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