Customer analytics: Essential for omni-channel success


lightwellretailsolutions-4Much of omni-channel success depends upon providing an enjoyable end-user experience on the different channels customers are looking to use to connect with your business. However, how can you offer this to your clients if you're unsure about what they want?

Big data is being leveraged more often in the retail space, and for good reason. IBM found in a recent Global Consumer Study that mobile technology is posing a challenge for companies, particularly as customers seek to leverage new channels to make purchases.

"From the explosion of mobile technologies to the spread of social networks, retailers need to navigate the speedy, endless and evolving trail of communications," IBM stated on its Big Data and Analytics Hub blog. "With the disruptive nature of the cloud and a new generation of advanced big data analytics, retailers can not only gain small efficiency points, but leap-frog competitors by delivering more and new expected benefits to customers."

One of the best ways to offer a best-in-class consumer experience across all channels is to utilize consumer analytics to help pave the way. This information can provide real insights into customers' preferences, buying habits and overall attitudes toward different channels, helping your company see where it's doing well and where it needs to improve. But how can you and your business utilize customer analytics in a way that will be the most successful?

Expand beyond single-session metrics

IBM's recent white paper, "Tips for Success with Customer Analytics," noted that a good place to begin with these efforts is to take an expansive look at the actual metrics being collected. Instead of using single-session metrics on which to base important decisions, your company should be looking at the big picture, following the client throughout their journey with your brand.

"By moving beyond single-session metrics to pinpoint key interactions that prompt progression through conversion cycles, you gain the insights needed to engage and delight each customer as an individual with personalized communications at the right time over the right channel," the white paper stated.

Your organization should collect lifecycle analytics which can be used to show the entire path customers traveled before making a purchase. IBM suggested examining lifecycle milestones, including when a client first looked at a product page, when they placed a product in their shopping cart, when they made their initial purchase and when they made any subsequent purchases.

This process can also be helpful to target shoppers who did not make a purchase. For instance, if a shopper looked at a product page and placed an item in their cart, but abandoned it, it could be beneficial to send this individual more information to pique their interest again and further drive home the sale. As 70 percent of consumers don't complete a purchase after putting a product in their cart, following their journey can help you understand points during the sales lifecycle that can be enhanced to encourage a transaction.

Supporting channels with an enjoyable end-user experience

As noted previously, many businesses struggle with their omni-channel commerce initiatives due to the range of technologies being used. It can be difficult to offer a unifying, streamlined experience for all users - including those on tablets, smartphones and laptops. Just as analytics can help uncover places in the purchasing lifecycle in need of improvement, so too can this information be beneficial for enhancing the end-user experience across different platforms. 

IBM found that only 49 percent of adult consumers had excellent experiences when browsing a website on their laptop or desktop. In addition, only 25 percent of tablet users and 18 percent of smartphone users reported an excellent experience on their devices. Two-thirds of users who had an issue migrated to a competitor's site, abandoning a possible connection with the brand because of interface problems.

Using customer analytics to help pinpoint and address these issues can help prevent lost sales in this manner. For example, if your analytics reveal that a considerable number of customers abandon your website after visiting a certain page, your IT team can examine that page in particular and enhance it to prevent further loss.

"In today's always-on environment, a superior customer experience is a key way to differentiate from the competition," IBM noted. "Qualitative site analytics helps identify and correct problems that derail customer interactions and satisfaction by providing deep insight into the customer experience - as they see it." 

Taking this stance can help your business ensure that you are fully supporting each of your channels with a leading customer experience that sets you apart in the marketplace.

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