How Data Drives Success In Customer Engagement Journey

by Dharmendra Kapadia    Aug 04, 2017

data

Launching a webstore in 2017 has become easy.  Despite that, growing and scaling an online business remains extremely difficult even for the most seasoned brands and eCommerce experts. Ecommerce sales are growing, often at the expense of retail store foot traffic, but many retailers are struggling to capitalize on their digital sales channels. The secret to success is no longer just to get it out there and see how it performs. The most successful retailers are strategic and targeted in their efforts, both offline and online, incorporating sales strategies as well as data to gather a deeper understanding of their customers.  Effectively targeting a ready-to-buy audience requires solid data and statistics on your customers.

Most companies have no shortage of ideas on how to improve the customer experience. The real challenge is to select the right set of initiatives that maximizes value, considering the dependencies on other elements of the operating model. Key questions for consideration include:

- Which touchpoints matter most in customer interactions with our organization? What are the future capabilities or features our customers are seeking?

- How can we tell if our capabilities are table stakes or really differentiate the customer experience we deliver?

- What should the role of each of our channels be, and how should we skew our investment? (Mobile, web, device, Interactive Voice Response, contact center, or retail store)

- Which segments of the customer market are growing the fastest?  Which are lagging?

- How do we develop the business case for investing in better customer experiences?

- What are our customers telling us through their interactions with us both online and in-person?

While it has always been a focus of eCommerce strategizing, the promise of a truly personalized online shopping experience remains largely unfulfilled. It’s a curious circumstance because the statistics show that there’s a large demand and payoff to be had from customizing the offering each of your customers gets when he/she visits your site.  The key to all of this is data.  The gathering and proper analysis of customer data can provide the insights to unlock vital features which drive personalized experiences for each customer.  That initial data can be used to uncover even more opportunities to engage the customer in a proactive, meaningful manner, branching into more specific features such as recommendations and personalized offers.  This in turn generates even more data, which can lead to previously unknown insights.

Gathering the data is the first step. Processing and understanding that data is the next step.  Advanced data analysis, algorithms, and machine learning have now become available for everyone. Artificial Intelligence can empower ecommerce companies to devise better strategies to attract customers. For instance, using AI, companies can achieve better results by being able to more effectively identify prospects based on their purchase history, demographics, etc. and align sales efforts to real customer needs. Online retailers may also feel they must live up to the expectation of never-ending discounts, which clearly puts pressure on their margins. So, while they don’t want to charge more than offline stores and risk losing customers, they also don’t want to leave too much money on the table. Using advanced price optimization tools can help these companies arrive at the right pricing strategies.

The availability of inexpensive cloud computing resources, coupled with data and algorithms, combine to create a powerful set of tools that can be used to establish focused, personalized, two-way engagements with customers across all segments.  These interactions can and should be omnichannel, taking full advantage of device form factors and capabilities.  Sprinkle in the right social media touchpoints, and you can turn your customers into a formidable group of advocates who can influence others in their sphere of connections, boosting customer loyalty and the brand.

As customer omnichannel experiences expand to all facets of modern life, eCommerce is now far more than an online cart or basket shopping experience.  eCommerce has become a critical touchpoint that allows brands to better understand the different personas with which they engage and interact across various channels and platforms. Personalization and recommendations are now regularly-expected facets of the user experience that can be realized by automation, analytics and machine learning technologies.  The right data-driven eCommerce strategy allows for targeted upselling and cross-selling to customers in otherwise unknown areas while building the brand.  The winning eCommerce solution combines these elements to provide extensibility to operate in any ecosystem and supports rapid revenue growth, higher conversions and enhanced customer loyalty.

[The author is  AVP – Solutioning, Ness Digital Engineering]