With the advent of the internet and the popularity of smart, always-connected devices, the retail industry has experienced quite a revolution. The vast amount of data available online has enabled customers to research, compare, and make more informed purchase decisions. At the same time, major advances in data analytics have made it possible for retailers and brands to uncover and interpret customer behavior patterns, both online and in-store.
As retailing swings between the binary of outright customer loyalty and excessive cart abandonment, it’s not difficult to understand that success hinges on more than just customer impulse. Brands overly obsessing over high growth must realize that at the core of a highly personalized and contextualized retail experience, lies data – consistent, correct, complete, and appealing data.
A myriad of decisions, both big and small, have to be made every day to ensure success in the retail space. From de-listing a particular product and adjusting staffing to moving forward with expansion plans based on a clear picture of how financials are performing – decisions at every level of retail rely on data. Overall, the retail industry has seen phenomenal growth so far. In 2019, retail e-commerce sales hit the 3.53 trillion-dollar mark, and the correlation is simple; excellent data can be your passport to earning big dollars.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at five reasons why data reigns supreme for retail.
Creating Exceptional Customer Experiences
Experiential retail is a sign of things to come. According to millennials, 52% of their spending can be attributed to experience-related purchases. In this age of new and exciting digital trends, personalization is the key to experiences that will keep customers coming back for more. And the simple fact is, personalization campaigns are just not possible if you don’t know and understand who your customers really are. A comprehensive customer database is vital to retailers and e-commerce companies who want to focus on improving relationships and creating exceptional experiences. A Master Data Management or MDM solution can go a long way in ensuring a reliable foundation of critical data. This will provide an accurate and conveniently segmented view of your database, setting the stage for higher levels of personalization at every step of the buying journey.
Empowering Customers to Make Choices
The ability to choose can make all the difference when it comes to the retail experience. Retailers have to evolve with the help of modern technology to augment the customer’s preferred way to shop. Artificial Intelligence is at the forefront of this customer-centric transformation, and AI works best when it has access to high-quality product data. It is estimated that by 2021, 77% of retailers will implement AI to help take their customer interactions to the next level. Buyers have access to more options than ever before when it comes to touchpoints, and with the help of data and artificial intelligence, Retail CIOs can get new insights and anticipate ever-changing customer needs. Implementing the right Product Information Management software can help retailers centralize and harmonize product data and unlock the true advantage of AI. This will result in more choices and provide the kind of flexibility that today’s shoppers expect.
Building Trust with Data Integrity
For a lot of businesses, the most challenging aspect of staying relevant during times of unprecedented change is the ability to improve and adapt quickly enough. This is where the quality and integrity of data becomes a vital component in making decisions that you can trust. New technologies enabling the collection of real-time data can provide a wealth of insights, transforming the way retailers make decisions on pricing, promotions, and product placement. For example, if you know whether the shelves of your stores are stocked, how your products are displayed, and whether consumers are seeing the right promotions, you can create the ideal in-store experience and enhance brand loyalty among your customers.
Enhancing Business Resilience
While growth has always been the focus of retail businesses, today, the emphasis is on building resilience. The challenge lies in combining the ability to maintain continuity of operations while being agile enough to adapt to a dynamic environment where change is the only constant. With both of these capabilities being heavily dependent on insight-driven decisions, the impetus is on having a robust data strategy in place. This is where advanced analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence can unlock a host of new possibilities. Through a combination of predictive and prescriptive analytics, scenario simulation, and early-warning detection, retail businesses can stay one step ahead of rapidly evolving customer demands.
Paving the Way for the Future
Even though we are living in uncertain times, one thing is certain – the future of retail will involve gathering enough relevant data to make smart decisions. The thing is, while technologies like master data management and artificial intelligence continue to transform the retail landscape, the basic tenets will remain the same. Customers would always want the right product or service, they would want assistance that isn’t disturbingly obtrusive, they will look for a shopping experience that is convenient, and sometimes they will expect shops to read their minds. Armed with the right data, retailers will be in a better position than ever before to meet and exceed all these expectations.
Whether we are talking about creating more engaging customer experiences, making smarter strategic and operational decisions, or analyzing consumer behavior to stay ahead of evolving trends, the role of data in retail is more important today than it has ever been. And it shows no signs of slowing down. The ever-increasing pace of change means traditional sources of decision-making, such as sales history and executives’ experience and intuition, are no longer enough for retail businesses looking to stay ahead of the competition. In this context, information truly is power, which is why, when it comes to modern retail, big data equals big dollars.