Digital transformation has become something of an obsession for many businesses. And rightly so, as digital technologies are helping organizations to streamline convoluted processes, capture new datasets and, crucially, analyze that information to drive tangible business improvements.
More information than you can shake a stick at
We have more data about customers than ever before, but sometimes retailers are wrestling with a volume and complexity of information that can lead to a lack of visibility of true customer behavior. This is because it can be hard to bring these two worlds – digital and physical – together, causing a failure to identify the same customers that interact in both environments. By bringing data points together there is a better chance of getting a unified view of what customers are doing and how they are interacting with you throughout your omnichannel touchpoints.
A study by market researcher Periscope found that 78% of US retailers say their customers do not have a unified brand experience. The obstacles cited include a lack of customer analytics across channels (67%), poor data quality (45%) and inability to identify customers across shopping trips (45%). A unified customer view can help retailers drive better customer experiences and ultimately help drive revenues. It ensures that retailers can contact their customers at the right time, with the right messaging and crucially, the right products – as Amazon Go is demonstrating so impressively.
How is Amazon bridging the gap?
So let’s take a closer look at how Amazon is bridging that gap between online and in-person retail. The Amazon Go store not only allows customers to self-serve without the need for cash or cards, maximizing convenience but also uses data to understand precisely which products customers are most likely to pick up. In turn, these insights are used to potentially offer those products to customers as a regular online order, optimizing convenience even further.
This drive towards better customer experiences is what retail is all about, but it all boils down to whether the retailer’s technology stack is set up to offer a joined-up approach. Different systems need to be able to talk to each other and share information seamlessly to understand and predict customers’ needs across different channels. Not only do retailers need this connected data, but they need it fast so they can respond to and anticipate market opportunities in as near real-time as possible.
Siloed structures create siloed data
At SPINR, we see many organizations trying to achieve this kind of seamless, joined-up customer experience, but they struggle due to high numbers of duplicated or siloed systems. There is either unnecessary complexity, or a lack of integration between different systems and datasets, or both. Siloed data is intrinsically less valuable than connected data, as it can only tell you part of the story.
First then, retailers may need to scope out which systems are most effective, and which can be streamlined or removed. Then, they will need to ensure those systems are capable of sharing data via APIs, the most efficient and effective method of sharing data. This API-first approach to digital services will reap huge benefits, driving flexibility, repeatability and delivering fast insights on-demand. Consequently, you will see significantly better collaboration between teams and a newfound culture of innovation that would be almost impossible to replicate using more traditional forms of data integration.
The SPINR way
Once all your systems are connected and talking to each other, you’ve made a significant step closer to creating that all important single customer view. This is why we have focused on developing an ecosystem of connectors, which allow our customers to connect system data across the organization. Hybrid integration means this approach works regardless of whether data is stored in legacy onsite systems or in modern cloud applications. Likewise, we can help create common data models that work in your data warehouse, data lake or any other storage system of choice. This is the foundation for realizing the true benefits of integration – which, ultimately, is what omnichannel retail is all about.