Why Modern Data Management in Retail is Key to Meeting Consumer Expectations
The modern consumer expects a seamless experience with a retailer in-store, online and mixed between the two should they choose to reserve online and pick up in-store or vice versa. In the crowded marketplace we see today, consumers are willing to base their shopping decisions on which retailers can provide that experience.
Today, 61 percent of consumers believe retailers should provide the same cross-channel flexibility they offered during the pandemic, with 55 percent saying they're more loyal to retailers with both physical stores and online options. Consumers expect the flexibility to move fluidly between in-store and online experiences throughout the purchase journey.
However, operating a true omnichannel business puts a strain on legacy information technology. With a vast array of information spread across the entire enterprise, retailers face serious data management needs. Here’s how modern technology ensures data can be deployed to meet shifting customer expectations.
Breaking Down Data Silos
Most businesses have different systems for storing and managing different types of data. Data generated from lead capture, order management and invoice processing, for example, may all be stored in disparate locations. The same is often true of customer data — order information, product reviews and user details may be housed separately.
Modern data management technology breaks down these siloes, unlocking information that needs to be integrated in order to deliver a seamless experience for consumers.
Increasing Data Efficiency
Many retailers aren’t capitalizing on the richness of the data needed to provide personalized experiences. Many chatbots, for example, get narrowed down to being Q&A bots that give a static response instead of providing a solution.
By increasing the range of data these customer support tools have access to, businesses allow chatbots to generate helpful solutions and retrieve customer data for insights into their preferences and other shopping needs. That means a more seamless, personalized experience. With Gartner predicting that chatbots will become the primary customer service channel for about a quarter of organizations by 2027, there will be a major impact on how consumers engage with businesses.
Breaking the 80/20 Rule
This rule, formally known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80 percent of outcomes result from 20 percent of causes. Many businesses that do have top-shelf automated customer service tools may only rely on them to address the top three or four issues customers contact them about and fall back to traditional methods for everything else.
Better data management allows these tools to be applied to all ticket types, which creates a consistent experience for all shoppers, regardless of the problem they face.
Reducing the Carbon Footprint
Customers are incredibly wary of social and environmental issues and prefer products that are responsibly sourced, produced and transported. Retailers face the challenge of incorporating sustainability across their entire business value chain — and that requires superior data management. More efficient and effective modern tools drive more sustainable supply chains with environmentally friendly distribution strategies.
Personalizing the Customer Experience
Apart from providing promotional offers, retailers must now go above and beyond to provide a level of personalization. Smart technologies like chatbots and artificial intelligence, coupled with intelligent data management, will be their armor to identify and service existing valued customers and new target audiences.
Let’s say a customer is looking to purchase an item that’s out of stock. Retailers using modern data tools can easily elevate their service by contacting the shopper once the item is back in stock — and perhaps even offer a one-time discount if they purchase the product immediately. This keeps the business connected and engaged with the customer, leading to a great experience with the brand.
Retailers may also identify customers who regularly purchase the same product. Reaching out with a subscription offer saves them the trouble of repetitive manual purchases and can be offered at a special price. Delivering this personalized service tells the customer you’re aware of their needs and makes them understand that your brand cares about them.
Using data to provide great customer experiences is where the best brands differentiate themselves from competitors.
Nick Parmar is vice president, cloud communications at Tata Communications, a digital ecosystem enabler that powers today's fast-growing digital economy.