Data drives our shopping experience

Digital is gaining ground – we use it to enhance our buying experience both for online shopping and with traditional retail. And as the presentation below indicates: When sellers leverage more data from more digital touch points to create insights and act on these, the personalized shopping experience will finally become an achievable goal.

Omnichannel
The channels that lead us from awareness at the top of the funnel (if that term is still allowed in these times of the loyalty loop), to the purchase and after sales satisfaction, is not an easy task to manage. Digital channels are increasing in numbers, as is the number of channels being used per purchase.

I may begin my customer journey on a search engine, triggered by a brand mention on one of my social networks. I could use my smartphone for the search, move to the tablet, laptop or smart TV to do a thorough product investigation, use the phone to call a shop nearby and hear if they stock the product, visit the shop to see, touch and evaluate the product, do a price comparison right there in the shop, go home, do an online chat with a competitor and purchase the product at a competitor right there, and go home to wait for the delivery. God knows how many of those interactions in different channels go to the same brand?

Digital channels are becoming more and more important when we buy – especially for our decision process. According to a Valtech white paper, almost 1 in 4 uses three different channels along the customer journey towards a purchase. That’s the reason we see the customer’s experience receiving so much attention from companies seeking to sell online: The experience must be consistent and measured for all channels and touch points – from the first search to after the sales. That’s also why “multi-channel” is rapidly being replaced by “omni-channel”: It’s not about a multitude of channels, but about creating a pervasive experience across these.

Holistic experience, not channels
Digital consumers expect an integrated and consistant experience across channels, but more often than not, they just don’t get that. Many companies prioritize to be present in the digital channels, but are more reluctant when it comes to investment in the digital customer experience.

The infamous ‘seamless’ integration is proving a challenge. It demands a fundamental shift in perspective – from internal product focus, to customer-centricity across all channels. An approach seeking to integrate processes such as merchandising, order fulfillment and inventory management at a category level, rather than for individual channels.

Customers’ loyalty is not directed towards any single channel, but depends on the experience they get across the channels. And a bad experience in one channel, infects the experience with the others. Your customers just see your brand – not all your marketing channels.

Data is raw oil
People say data is the new oil. And just like oil, data must also be refined. There is a flood of data from digital touch points – and the tendency is that more is coming, it will be more varied, and it’s all moving towards real time. It is big data, and big data can be big business, e.g. if leveraged to provide extraordinary, personal experiences.

Personalised content is a fundamental element in the digital strategy of many companies, yet according to a conversion rate optimization report by Econsultancy, only 1 in 4 is actually employing website personalisation!

The most effective (i.e. ROI creating) is to use explicit preferences from users (e.g. interests), transaction history and the social graph. 2 in 3 consumers (shoppers) are interested in personalised purchasing experiences, but they expect to remain in control (opt-in/opt-out), and they don’t want personalisation based on social data and mobile use, states a study by Cisco. Users prefer personalisation based on transaction-type data (recency, frequency, spend).

Segmented experience
In order to provide personalized content, the stream of data coming in from every touchpoint must be transformed into insights – and a good starting point is segmentation. The most used segmentation parameters are geography, demography, behavior, and transaction history (when?, how often?, how much?).

Segmentation

Segmentation is one of the most effective means to increase conversion rate, but more parameters give better results. And when segmentation is combined with life cycle mapping and content marketing, we’ll have a frame for providing the personal experience across channels that is the answer to the customers’ intent.

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