Many retailers claim to be customer-centric, customer-focused, or even customer-obsessed. But are they really and how can you tell? A good place to start is by examining a retailer’s data strategy.
Success in retail is built on a foundation of data. This was true in the past when there was a lot less data, but today, and especially in the future as data volumes grow, the greatest determinant of success will be how effectively retailers use data.
As a result, retailers must master the fundamentals of how data is collected, cleansed, unified, stored, secured, shared and, most importantly, leveraged to uncover actionable insights. Those insights inform the development and execution of strategies to drive shopper satisfaction and loyalty. That’s what separates retailers who are customer-centric from those who are customer-confused.
This is an area where SymphonyAI Retail CPG has a unique perspective, thanks to a multi-decade track record of helping global retail leaders delight shoppers by extracting value from data. Along the way, we’ve observed seven key traits among customer centric-retailers. See how many apply to your organization:
ONE: Leadership loves data: Customer-centricity begins at the top and requires leadership that fosters a culture of data-driven decision-making. At organizations where leaders understand the potential of first-party shopper data and AI-driven insights into that data, it is common to see optimized decisions for merchandising and marketing. Shopper data is the ultimate enabler of customer-centricity because it reflects actual, real-world behavior that lets decisions be made with a degree of precision that isn’t available with other data sources.
TWO: One version of the truth: A silo mentality that can creep into a retailer’s operation and detract from being customer-centric is often dealt with through changes to organizational structure. While cross-functional teams can be effective, silos only truly disappear when decisions are based on one version of the truth. That requires the unification of data through an effective master data management and governance approach. Doing so ensures consistency and accuracy of data at a time when retailers are challenged to integrate proliferating sources of data to achieve customer-centric goals.
THREE: Democratization of data: To increase the value of unified data, customer-centric retailers ensure it is shared broadly throughout their organization and with trading partners. The latter is crucial because customer-centric retailers have the humility to understand they don’t have all the answers. They unleash the creativity and collaborative potential of trading partners by making shopper data available, thus aligning their interests to serve mutual customers. Sharing data with trading partners acts as a force multiplier to drive action from data.
FOUR: Predictive analytics and prescriptive insights: To provide shoppers with desirable experiences and assortments requires retailers to leverage AI and ML. These advanced technologies are essential to analyzing customer data and demand signals, predicting behavior and prescribing loyalty-generating actions. Customer-centric retailers understand that shoppers want to be understood – it’s a key reason why shoppers are willing to provide personal information and opt into loyalty programs. It is incumbent on retailers to act on the data that emanates from shopper behavior by using advanced technologies to improve segmentation and personalization.
FIVE: The cloud is key: Shoppers move fast and to keep pace, customer-centric retailers rely on modern, easy to update, cloud-based solutions. Because shopper behavior is so dynamic, cloud-based solutions provide the common architecture that is needed for integrated data and applications. An advanced cloud-based solution can provide the prescriptive analytics capabilities mentioned previously, along with a suite of customer insights reports for advanced analytics users to conduct deep-dive analysis across products, time, and geographies.
SIX: Speed to activation: Insights uncovered from shoppers data are only of use if they enable action to be taken quickly and effectively. Customer centric retailers understand this reality and leverage AI and advanced technologies to uncover and prioritize actions that will resonate with shoppers. They also rely on proactive alerts and watchlists that identify critical areas requiring immediate attention or action, thus eliminating the potential to disappoint shoppers.
SEVEN: Simplicity solves pain points: Retailers understand that operational complexity hinders their ability to take care of customers. It’s why customer-centric retailers seek solutions that bring simplicity to internal pain points such as how category managers access analytics or marketers leverage insights to pursue strategic initiatives. Merchants and marketers can let technology perform not only manual, repetitive tasks but also functions that exceed human capabilities because of the amount of data involved – freeing up team members to focus on more strategic matters. Customer-centric retailers leverage technology solutions that are easy to implement and operate.
When the seven traits listed above are evident at a retailer, it is a safe bet they can credibly lay claim to being customer-centric.
See how AI-powered solutions help retailers make more effective use of shopper data to achieve customer-centricity. Request a demo today from a shopper insights expert.