The digital age has opened a plethora of channels to reach consumers and making the user experience relevant and personalized across these channels is the need of the hour for retailers. From supply chain to campaigns to delivery of the product – the integration and relevance of it has to be seamless between brick and mortar and other online channels.
Key tenets like – Know your Customers, personalization, dynamic pricing and efficient supply chain have been pivotal for retailers and with the increase in multitude of channel these continues to remain pivotal for customer reach as well. These tenets are interrelated and the base for all this is relevant customer data. To provide a personalized experience, understanding the customers and prospects is a critical cog. There are various methods and algorithms that help with effective customer segmentation and prospecting. Established retailers invest in legitimate channels to acquire more customer information apart from the in-house data available towards providing this personalized touch. Retailers don’t rely solely on the brand but devise these effective strategies towards sustaining the loyalty to the brand and in further increasing the customer base through various online channels including the social media. Yet another powerful source to solicit this critical information in a legit way is through Wi-Fi channels. Through Wi-Fi apart from the useful customer information one gathers, it can help create a rich digital in-store experience by effective tracking of the customer. Wi-Fi-signals and in-store cameras help capture data about customers that can further be leveraged to identify the aisle the customer is at, time spent in front of an aisle or display, products bought or tried, crowding in front of an aisle, out of stock and many such useful cases with effective data analytics.
With the key data sources and solicitation channels outlined, the next step is to have a clear strategy how to store this data and leverage it to derive insights that help deliver business outcomes. It is necessary for retailers to have an intact data strategy that outlines what resides on-premise and what moves to the cloud. Further, it is not only about optimum storage, it is more on what one does with the data on-premise or on the cloud to run business effectively. As a business-critical imperative, today almost all retailers have already moved to the cloud or are in the verge of moving to the cloud. While migrating to cloud has its obvious cost benefits it is important for the cloud partner and the ecosystem to have the ability to provide seamless integration, ingestion and churn insights to run business. The technology and technology platform has to provide for the most optimum way for both storage and consumption of this plethora of data from various sources, volumes, velocity etc. The technology platform has to seamlessly integrate these and provide for insights. Another key dimension of this data strategy is having an effective data governance strategy. Retailers are now at a point of inflection where they can leverage huge troves of data to run sophisticated analytics programs and grow business. However, for them to be able to leverage all this data in the most efficient way possible, establishing a clear governance protocol is the starting point. This governance protocol helps it to deal with issues that might arise from the various pools of data and the information it provides. There is data coming from everything and anything, it is imperative to govern and channelize these well so as to reap the benefits. Data governance is about establishing rules about all aspects of the enterprise’ data like its source, owners, validity, security and, just as the subject of corporate governance arose out of necessity, so does data governance. Today, having a robust system of data governance is no more a luxury – it is an imperative.
In an ever-more competitive commercial environment, retailers need to find and leverage any and all possible ways to get this customer relevance score high. For it is clear that retailers that lack the ability to understand their customers, agility to provide personalized or tailored services, a clear data analytics strategy for effective storage with strong data governance, insights generation and consumption they run the risk of alienating even their most loyal customers!
Authored by Ramakrishnan K, AVP, Data Analytics, Infosys
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