Multi-channel retail is now the core operating model in this sector as shoppers expect to research and buy in-store, online and via mobile. A recent DataIQ Breakfast Briefing looked at the challenges presented by this behaviour, particularly around data quality.
Clicks and mortar is no longer an optional strategy for retailers - it is now the default business model. Integrating routes to market - store, web site, mobile web, catalogue, telephone - is among the biggest challenges being faced in this sector. As shoppers increasingly assume that a retailer will know then everywhere, the pressure is on to create an effective single view of the customer.
It is a task which Stuart Crawley, head of CRM at White Stuff, knows about from direct personal experience, as he told the DataIQ Retail Breakfast Briefing, sponsored by Experian QAS, in June. “One of the things we lacked was insight into our store customers. We had no transactional awareness of them,” he recalls.
As part of the CRM project he is leading, linking customers to purchases at point of sale has become a core activity which “has been working really well and the rate at which customers are willing to provide their details is significantly higher than we had predicted, so we have been gaining a lot of data,” he notes.
For a business which draws as much as 85 per cent of its revenue from store sales, discovering that brand affinity is able to support the data project in this way has been significant. It also created the base from which to build a SCV combining online and offline customer activity. “We had no view of that at all before,” says Crawley.
With catalogues another major area of marketing expenditure, one benefit from the project will be better tracking of sales that result from being mailed. But this was not the main driver of buy-in to the programme when Crawley presented it internally.
“Data quality was the key that unlocked the project. We found that in the existing CRM system I inherited the data quality was appalling - there was a duplicate rate of up to 40 per cent,” he says. White Stuff uses an external agency to manage and clean its data while it works on building skills in-house around the use of that data for marketing and decision making.
The problems faced by White Stuff are all too familiar to Janani Dumbleton, senior consultant with Experian QAS. “We have found in research that 93 per cent of businesses say they have suffered in some way due to data quality problems, including one-third who say they have lost customers due to inaccurate data,” she said at the event.
She illustrated the challenges with a pen portrait of a “crash pad professional” who is very active online and uses a smartphone and tablet to access r etailers, but is less likely to go instore except to pick up pre-ordered goods. “It’s wonderful knowing about him, but how can you make the experience better for him?” she asked. Getting the data quality right will help, as it reduces the amount of mis-targeted or irrelevant messages and allows a retailer to send appropriate offers, such as incentives for weekend deliveries for online orders.
“Data quality is critical to get to this seamless customer experience,” said Dumbleton. She advocates a three-step process - analyse data, improve its quality then control that quality over time.
Enhancing data with new insights can also be a major benefit. Henry Lawson, CEO of nFluence, told the event how Westfield has revised its mobile app to include its “Autograph” technology to profile shoppers. “They have leapfrogged other retailers in terms of the kind of data they now have,” he said. As ever more shoppers incorporate mobile access into their store visits, being able to maintain an integrated view of them is what will keep the tills ringing.