Pandemic Shopping Habits are Here to Stay: Take Advantage with Clean Customer Data


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Meet customers’ high expectations with mobile shopping and smooth checkout

Consumers today shop differently than their pre-Covid selves. Are retailers paying attention? Preferring the social distance of online shopping, even after the height of the pandemic has eased, has become a new – and more convenient – comfort zone for some shoppers. Customer change also includes new addresses, as 2020 witnessed mass exodus out of metropolitan centers. For retailers, this means acknowledging new shopper preferences along with potentially obsolete address data. Insufficient data stalls the purchase process itself, blocking shipping cycles, and adds surprising costs related to deliveries and returns. Throughout 2022, insightful retailers must prioritize customer data management, capitalizing on seamless data strategies and tools.

First step to data quality: cleanse customer lists

Without correct address data, how do you reach customers with goods and services? Maintaining correct data is foundational, including handling with care to avoid duplicating a single customer record due to mistakes or inconsistencies in data entry. Such data mistakes are expensive, for example, increasing costs (but not results) for marketing campaigns that will accidentally reach the same person twice. Optimized data strategies use established tools like USPS® NCOALink® (National Change of Address) and Canadian NCOA® move-update services, minimizing costs and the risk of undeliverable-as-addressed mail.

Intelligent lists, more successful campaigns

Expanding customer lists beyond names and addresses – such as adding email and phone data –helps identify customers even when their circumstances change. For instance, a physical address changes with a move, however, an individual’s email or phone likely does not. These additional data points support strong identity authentication. When coupled with an updated address, the retailer has in effect merged and deduplicated data. Mistakes and costs are minimized, and marketing opportunities increase, such as connecting with customers via SMS text campaigns based on highly personalized outreach.

Address autocompletion checks out

Autocompletion is a high-value tool for both consumers and retailers. Checkout is simple and fast for customers, and the process assures only correct data is input into the seller’s system. Cart abandonment is less likely, and auto-fill address fields complete with just a few keystrokes. For retailers, this is an easy, effective way to shrink data correction fees related to bad addresses. No returned shipments or lost products – just content shoppers, anticipating continued excellence in their experience with your online brand.

Erasing the lines between personal and professional addresses

Retailers must identify both business and home addresses and be capable of differentiating between the two. Why? Residential surcharges are applied to FedEx and UPS services and typically cost about $4.00, rates that may increase exponentially in a database riddled with errors and incomplete data. USPS, however, does not charge residential fees. Having clean, complete address data and using a tool like RBDI (Residential Business Delivery Indicator) can help identify which addresses in your database are residential vs. commercial so that you can determine appropriate shipping charges for each delivery. Retailers might also want to integrate this option into their websites to provide shoppers the most effective rate-shopping services.

Remote work creates a corresponding hurdle for direct mail campaigns. How does someone accept office mail when they are not at their usual workplace? Full contact intelligence is a useful approach to this challenge, linking professional and personal data for a single contact. Through list enhancement, retailers can connect residence data, comparing emails and phones for an individual contact. It’s a smarter strategy that cross-matches identities to help deliver packages to the right door.

Fight fraud instantly with better data

Quality data helps retailers minimize online fraud, protecting transactions through multi-step customer identity verification. Is the person shopping really who they say they are? Does the IP address pinpoint a transaction originating in Europe when the filed address is in California? Or is fraud involved? Digital identity verification processes are essential here, aiding merchants to double-check customer credibility instantly. Data points are verified and cross-matched individually, validating that the right person is matched with the given data, even if the transaction is already underway.

Defend your ‘people data’ as a treasured business asset

Researchers say that 2021’s top three fastest-growing retailers, reporting year-over-year sales increases from 2019 to 2020, are online-only brands. Other industry insights point out that 60% of consumers intentionally provide incorrect information when submitting personal details online. These factors point to a need for much greater attention to customer data – keeping a competitive edge to get your share of sales and embracing a data strategy that stops bad data at the door. Validate correctness and enhance your data quality on an ongoing basis, adding factors like name, emails, and phone numbers. Acknowledge that both business and home addresses have a role in today’s remote and hybrid workplace norms, influencing shipping expenses and campaign success. And add processes like autocompletion and digital identity verification, seamless and high-value tools that help maintain a friction-free customer experience while simultaneously fighting fraud. These steps help merchants establish a powerful framework for data quality – driving customer satisfaction and accompanying, long-term growth.

Greg Brown
Greg Brown is vice president of Melissa, provider of global data quality and address management solutions that span the entire data quality lifecycle and integrate into CRM, ecommerce, master data management and Big Data platforms. Contact Greg at [email protected].