As the Web plays an ever more central role in shopping, more data than ever is available to help merchants deliver the relevant experiences that spur sales and foster brand loyalty.
With the number of eCommerce merchants growing, the number of devices consumers use to shop proliferating, social outlets providing new streams of information about brand reputation and word of mouth recommendations, and new technologies increasingly available to capture and quantify offline activities, merchants have plenty of numbers at their fingertips.
Analyzing and giving shape to that data – and turning it into actionable results – is the crucial next step for merchants, and a necessary one to take. Increasingly, consumers want brand interactions to be anything but generic, but rather to cater to their personal preferences and histories. Among the expectations:
- 53% of shoppers say it’s important for brands to recognize them as the same individuals even as they move across multiple touchpoints, and also say they buy more from brands that tailor recommendations based on past purchases and browsing behavior, according to research from the E-Tailing Group.
- Technology researcher Forrester reports that 57% of shoppers say new digital “wallet” payment systems should integrate loyalty points and rewards.
- 56% of shoppers expect a brand’s prices to be the same whether shopping on a computer, mobile device, or in a store, and 51% expect brands to offer a price match if a lower price is found elsewhere, according to Forrester.
Data is central to meeting these expectations, and merchants acknowledge the importance of integrating systems to move beyond isolated data sets such as web analytics and CRM databases that fail to take into account shoppers’ activities across the brand. Fully 83% of merchants somewhat or fully agree that a single view of the customer is crucial to long-term success, according to eConsultancy, and 56% seek to deliver cross-touchpoint personalization, the E-Tailing Group found.
But identifying a goal isn’t the same is attaining it, and so far merchants report trailing behind consumers’ expectations for sophisticated data analysis and the tailored experiences that should result. There are multiple pain points:
- Less than a third of merchants report having strong or even average capabilities when it comes to uniting data from different sources into a single customer profile, according to eConsultancy.
- Fully 85% of merchants say they’re unable to extract full value from the data they already have, and 62% report being overwhelmed by that data, eConsultancy found.
- At the same time, the E-Tailing Group reports that less than a quarter of merchants believe they have enough data to truly personalize their shopping experiences.
As merchants strive to capture valuable insights from the upcoming holiday season — and plan for data-gathering improvements, upgrades and integrations in 2016 — they should consult two essential MarketLive resources:
Implementing Big Data for the Mid-Sized Merchant defines concretely the much-hyped term “big data” in the context of online commerce, and offers real-world applications of big data to improve brand interactions throughout the customer lifecycle.
Connecting Data Points and KPIs in a Multi-Channel World examines how merchants can move beyond the basics of their Web analytics packages to attain a cross-touchpoint view of shopping behaviors, from social media interactions to online/offline connections.
Stay tuned for our latest MarketLive Performance Index benchmark report, as well as performance updates throughout the holiday season.