Big data is crucial for leveraging business opportunities in 2019, and retail chains are no exception. Modern storefronts engage with customers across multiple digital contact points. These retailers quickly learn that data will help them manage relationships much more effectively. As a result, customer data platforms (CDPs) have gained increased prevalence in the retail sector. Retailers leverage CDPs to create data-rich customer profiles and inform product promotions.
Yet the benefits of CDPs are not limited to analyzing customer purchase histories — they also have a positive impact on service. Customers increasingly expect fast, useful, and personalized shopping experiences. By gathering insights from big data, retailers can integrate their traditional customer service models with a CDP-powered digital layer that ultimately benefits users and maximizes revenue.
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Unifying customer data sources
The primary benefit of CDP is that it allows marketers to unify consumer data from multiple sources into individual profiles. This feature is extremely advantageous to modern retailers, given their stratified operations. According to Deloitte Digital, the average retail brand maintains 39 front-end customer engagement systems. Each system will likely have unique standards for managing data, to say nothing of specific departments controlling them. The most common examples include:
- Point-of-sale systems
- Mobile services
- Call centers
- E-commerce solutions
- Email marketing
- Social and content management
A CDP platform aggregates data from each touchpoint, making it easier for marketers to understand their entire history with a given customer. Call center employees can review all customer interactions, across every channel, to offer personalized service. These insights can help brands find the most valuable customers and understand their specific needs.
Offering personalized messaging and services
Fast-track checkouts are a prime example of CDP-enabled customer service. By tracking buying patterns, brands can determine which customers will frequently make identical purchases — perhaps vegetables or snack foods from a grocer. These items are then made available for fast checkout through a single button that is automatically populated with information from previous transactions.
If fast-track checkouts are an example of functionality, CDP-based customer service can also emphasize personalization through relevant messaging. With so many retail touchpoints, it’s fairly easy for certain interactions to slip through the cracks. An individual who is considered a prospective customer in terms of social media interactions might frequently take advantage of e-commerce or physical shopping services.
Why is this important? It’s common knowledge that retained customers are far more valuable to businesses than first-time customers, but marketers must communicate in unique ways with each group. Where new customers might be encouraged to buy a unique item, second or third-time customers might be offered a loyalty plan or a custom promotion based on their shopping history. By leveraging CDP data, retailers can find more opportunities to turn a first-time customer into a lifetime customer.
Segmenting event-based customers
Once customer profiles are stored in your CDP, segmenting them into distinct market groups is a fairly easy task. While this is a standard marketing practice, segmentation offers particular service benefits to retailers as well. High numbers of retail customers are attracted to event-based purchasing — Black Friday, holidays, and birthdays are prime for seasonal promotions.
By segmenting customers who make purchases during these events, it’s easy for marketers to tailor personalized messaging. Perhaps there are particular gifts they would like to buy for family, or perhaps there’s a limited-time product they always enjoy in that season. This segmentation allows retailers to maximize revenue from specialized customer groups. CDP data indicates which groups are already primed to spend money for these events, so these targeted promotions benefit everyone involved.
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CDPs can enable self-service solutions
Customer service representatives still have an important role in many marketing teams, but it’s not always feasible for them to be available after business hours. Customers, on the other hand, expect some level of service 24-hours a day, on evenings and weekends. When CDPs are paired with self-serve and automated solutions, however, customers can find solutions whenever they need them.
CDPs are not strictly marketing automation tools, but there are opportunities to integrate them in useful ways. While marketing automation focuses on customer communication, CDPs can store and retain this data in user profiles to optimize future interactions. This creates opportunities for automated platforms to draw on unified data sources when providing solutions to customers. And with 75% of executives considering AI implementation, many experts believe this will become common in the immediate future.
So what does this mean for retailers? Various chains have begun experimenting with self-serve options that go well beyond self-checkouts. Smaller brands might prove to be the biggest innovators here — some are launching micro-markets and self-serve retail kiosks to attract highly targeted consumer segments. CDPs make these opportunities appealing to customers while still offering a standard level of customer service.
Like most businesses, retailers are still adjusting to the overwhelming opportunities for big data. Thankfully, CDPs allow retailers to better leverage this data while driving engaging customer service. In time, we can expect all retailers to become more effective at offering personalized services, crafting targeted promotions, and satisfying customers.