Driving retail possibilities with data


It was 23 years ago when e-commerce became a new channel through which consumers could securely purchase items over the internet.

In the recent years, mobile has become another channel in the ever-developing omni-channel world of retailing and has had a huge impact on the consumer’s overall buying journey.

Whereas consumers may have previously gone from store to web or web to store for researching and then purchasing, mobile now gives them a continuous path and gives retailers the opportunity to further vary and strategise the customer experience in e-commerce.

The advent of mobile is of course no longer new, but the impact it is having on retail is very much still evolving.

>See also: 3 ways artificial intelligence is transforming e-commerce

One of the key challenges, and opportunities, retailers are now grappling with in this area is how they leverage the data they are gaining through the mobile channel to further enhance the e-commerce customer experience.

How mobile is enhancing customer experience

Of all the developments shaking up retail, the birth of the ‘empowered consumer’ has undoubtedly been one of the most impactful.

By ‘empowered consumer’, we mean an ultra-connected, well-informed user, with the ability to receive real-time offers anytime, anywhere.

Purchases via smartphones and tablets have been growing quickly, with 46% of consumers now saying they buy products via mobile.

Another major shift, being driven by increased mobile purchasing, is the demand for a more agile supply chain.

With consumers now able to make purchases via multiple devices and from varied locations at any time of the day or night (e-commerce), they are now also expecting more flexible delivery and return options.

>See also: The seven types of e-commerce fraud explained

Retailers need to ensure that their supply chains can manage this.

In terms of product delivery, click and collect is one example of how things have changed – it’s a service that’s been quickly adopted and usage of which is set to double in the next two years.

Keeping up with demand in this way makes optimum supply chain performance incredibly important.

Supply chain is quickly becoming one of the most strategically important aspects of any retail operation.

A third shift we’re seeing in the way retail is making use of mobile is retailers putting technology into the hands of store employees at the point of decision.

Retailers are now using technologies such as visual analytics to enable staff to analyse transactions, stock levels, mark-down rates and also to look at customer in-store journeys and individual interactions with products, to get a much better understanding of customer behaviour and preferences.

This is completely transforming the role of the store.

>See also: Why e-commerce won’t kill brick-and-mortar retail

As an important sales channel its performance can be optimised in real-time, and as a hub of analytics usage it can be a critical centre of product and customer information for business.

Having the data is one thing; understanding the data is the holy grail

With more and more retailers capturing more and more data, the challenge now is how to manage and use it effectively, especially when it comes in from such a multitude of sources: purchase transactions, retail loyalty programmes, social media data, customer service interactions, CRM data, to name but a few.

Much of this data is unstructured and often difficult to reconcile.

That’s where visual analytics comes in, giving the user the power to analyse all manner of data, unconstrained by pre-defined search queries, and uncover trends and insights as to what’s going on beneath the surface of their business.

And who is the user in this case? A study by RSR Research shows that even with the multitude of new technologies available, retailers are struggling to make employees and better informed and better able to impact and improve business performance.

Mobile devices and analytics really stand to change this.

Store staff with access to visual analytics via tablet can have a complete view of the day’s performance and can keep track of their key operational metrics in near real time.

And at management level, retailers can get a better insight into consumer purchases, analysing basket affinities to see which products commonly sell together, allowing them to tailor customer propositions accordingly.

They can also analyse transaction and footfall data to ensure optimal numbers of employees are working at any given time to provide the best customer service possible.

>See also: Need for speed: How to ensure your e-commerce website is up to scratch

The mastery and integration of these latest technological innovations has gone from being a nice-to-have to something that delivers real competitive advantage for retailers in an e-commerce environment.

The customer journey, having evolved as we’ve become hyper-connected and mobile, is forcing retailers to review their stores, their tools and their supply chains and digitise them further.

For those who can collect, analyse and understand the full picture of what their customer data is telling them, the possibilities are endless.


Sourced by Paul Winsor, director EMEA market development, retail and services , Qlik

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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