As retailers, you have the unenviable task of competing not only with other retailers, but with online behemoths that strive to deliver practically anything to anyone within 24 hours. Does it sometimes seem impossible? Well, every giant has its weak spot. With the right data management tools, you can provide a superb customer experience in ways that the digital hypermarket struggles to provide. However, you must excel in three key areas:
1. Be an expert by providing rich and accurate product information.
Useful and correct product information is a pain point for online consumers as well as for online retailers. Poor-quality product data is the cause of many product returns. Misleading images, inaccurate specifications or bad translations are at the root of many disappointments, especially when customers realize that the product delivered doesn't live up to the description on the website. Product returns are an annoyance for the consumer, and costly for the retailer.
Accurate product information can help you win the “Zero Moment of Truth,” the phase of online search where consumers make their buying decisions. The retailer with superb product information can make this moment a rich experience for the customer, dense with useful information (e.g., descriptions, videos, testimonials, use cases, ambient images and detailed images) to make the customer feel comfortable about both the product and the vendor.
2. Be personal through lead nurturing.
Consumers don’t just want to buy a product; they want to work with a retailer that understands their preferences and anticipates their needs. Your customers leave digital footprints that reveal their individual interests. These footprints are your guideposts for one-to-one communication, enabling you to deliver personalized content that shows you understand them.
With marketing automation, you have the tools to follow these digital footprints and deliver targeted messaging when the customer is ready to receive the message — via web analysis, landing page building, lead nurturing, lead management and email marketing. Having clear, accurate and full knowledge of your customers is necessary to do this effectively.
Through cookies, IP detection and landing pages, you're able to draw a map of your customer’s interests and send personalized messages across channels on email, social media and online networks. But do it effectively; there’s a fine line between delivering relevant personal messages and intrusive outreach. Follow the user like a waiter, not like a bill collector.
3. Know your customers by creating a 360-degree customer view.
To gain a complete view of your customer that will enable you to provide a truly personalized experience, you need input from several data sources around the customer: shopping locations, names, addresses, preferences, downloaded assets and demographic information. The problem is that this information is often collected at different points in the buying process and stored in disparate systems.
Therefore, even though the retailer possesses the information, it's not reconciled and consolidated. One customer can easily exist in three different records with different data. This can have a negative impact on marketing messaging, resulting in a poor customer experience.
Connecting different data sets into a single version of the truth enables the retailer to offer a better customer experience. Products are always shipped to the right address, look-ups in the database provide complete and updated information, and customers are treated professionally. Establishing your brand reputation through exceptional customer experiences will differentiate it from the online hypermarket.
Use Master Data Management to Reach Your Goals
Master data management is the linchpin to successfully becoming an expert, being personal and truly knowing your customers. With the right strategy and tools in place, you can consolidate, cleanse, enhance and govern critical product and customer data across the enterprise, ensuring data consistency and facilitating easier control and management.
The more accurate and complete your data, the more insight you have and the better you can compete against online retail giants and meet customers’ needs.
Prashant Bhatia is the chief product and marketing officer for Stibo Systems, a business data management solutions provider.