Customer (data) is always right: Five tips for improving customer experience.

Jeff Allen
September 7, 2016
Retail has always been a beast of its own. There is simply no room to make a misstep in the current retail environment. Selling to consumers who may see your product as a luxury means that brands need to provide stellar customer experiences every time.
Customers have many opportunities to choose not to purchase a product from you. Decisions to abandon purchases can be made due to anything from competitors offering lower prices on the same products (on average, consumers price check three websites before making purchases), to difficulties navigating your website, to customers simply being distracted and abandoning their carts before completing the purchases.
Five ways data improves retail experiences.
With that in mind, it’s important to act on any opportunities you have to help your customers move through the purchase process. How can you optimize your customer experience in a way that helps prompt purchases? Data and analytics can help retailers create customer experiences that are overwhelmingly positive and facilitate strong customer relationships. Here are five ways to use data and analytics to strengthen your retail brand and sales.
Experience consistency
If your customer has one experience with your brand online and a completely different experience in person, it’s jarring for him or her at best. It can be confusing, and at the worst of times, it can be infuriating. Brands are struggling to stitch together the data from their websites, mobile apps, and in-store experiences. In fact, less than half of all brands even have a mobile app–analytics strategy. Brands must unify all of their data to help customers interact with them seamlessly and easily. Making your customers’ lives easier is always good for sales. One national retailer has begun to use digital methodologies in physical retail stores. By integrating online and offline inventories, customers can shop where, when, and how they want. Ultimately, your customer should not be able to see any barriers or differences between the online, offline, and mobile experience.

Making your customers’ lives easier is always good for sales.

Personalized messaging
Retail brands are now using this marriage of online and offline experiences to help them personalize their messaging as well. If you know a customer has spent time on your site looking at a particular type of product, when she enters your store next, you can personalize her experience by providing her with a coupon for that product, for example. If you can provide them with relevant coupons while they’re shopping, you vastly increase your chances to convert them. Any messaging should be highly customized, personalized, and based on your customer’s preferences and interests.
Mobile engagement
Mobile usage is becoming increasingly important as well as increasingly innovative. In addition to mobile apps, mobile has changed the way payments are made. This completely revolutionizes the customer experience. In some cases, the cashier has been rendered almost unnecessary. Long line? No worry — have an associate allow customers to pay with mobile devices. Many retail technology brands have fully embraced this change in payment. Mobile also allows access to who and where your customers are, providing brands with great opportunities to capitalize on that increased knowledge to serve great experiences. These innovations will continue to change marketing in more innovative ways — and retail brands are best poised to take advantage of the mobile space.
Audience segmentation
Data can also help brands understand more information about each customer. This can help them not only personalize messaging appropriately, but also anticipate customers’ needs. Based on what they — and others like them — have done in the past, brands can understand how to best help their customers. This type of segmentation can provide invaluable insights into what your customers really want and need.
Supply-chain optimization
There’s nothing worse than selling a lot of a product in a particular area and not being able to keep it in stock. Data and analytics can help you understand which products are selling in which locations so that you not only understand demand, but also stay ahead of it. A global auto company is using data to help the sales team understand what types of cars their customers want most. Customers can visit the brand’s website and build their dream cars. The site only allows users to build cars that they can purchase — meaning, customers can walk into local dealerships, ask for exactly what they built online, and actually get their dream cars. More than that, the brand can understand which types of customers are looking for which types of cars, which features are most popular, which features are most likely to be seen as luxuries, and much more. The wealth of information companies have access to and can use to improve their customers’ experiences with their brands is almost limitless.
Using data to stay ahead of the curve.
Retail brands that use advanced analytics techniques to embrace 360-degree views of their customers and then apply those views to customer experiences — whether online or offline — are the brands that are going to win the retail game. Successful retailers are smart about how they use that data to create informed customer experiences. If your brand focus is always on customer experience, it helps you not only say, but also prove, that the customer is always right — or in better terms, that customer data is always right. And when brands listen to customer data, they’re right too.
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