How to maximise customer data: insights from our retailer roundtable
Wherever customers go, they leave a data trail. The challenge for retailers is using that footprint to nurture stronger relationships.
In order to understand the day-to-day challenges of managing customer data, and help businesses integrate that information into their CRM strategies, Sanderson invited a group of our key customers to an exclusive retailer roundtable event in Birmingham.
We spoke with brands including Hotel Chocolat, Me + Em, Axminster Tools & Machinery, DB Shoes, David Austin Roses, Kingstown Associates and WCF Ltd, with support from our partner AFD Software, about the initiatives they are putting in place to utilise customer data effectively. Here are some of our key insights from the event.
Connecting with the smart customer
The volume of data being generated by customers, which they are willing to share with retailers, is higher than ever before – and businesses recognise that this provides them with a great opportunity to understand their target market in greater depth.
However, the stakes are higher too. Jason Colbridge, retail expert at Sanderson, noted during his introduction to the roundtable that “opportunities for leveraging AI/BI technology has never been better , demands from IT savvy shoppers are increasingly high ”, and this means retailers need to provide well-targeted marketing, joined up across all channels, in order to capture their loyalty and spend.
Putting an end to partial information
One thing that became immediately clear from our discussion with Sanderson retail customers is that there’s still work to be done in getting the basics right. Data quality is critical to effective decision-making and quality of marketing campaigns, yet good, clean customer information can still be hard to come by.
The need for effective data processing was highlighted by Sanderson partner, AFD Software, which provides name, address and bank data validation solutions. Head of Sales & Marketing, Jonathan Stocks, spoke about the challenges of quality control – particularly in an environment when the same customer can generate multiple records across several channels.
A cohesive customer database enhances retailers’ CRM strategies in several ways. Firstly, at a basic level, it ensures their information is complete and correct – so marketing materials and product deliveries get through to the right place.
Secondly, back-office systems can identify where two records have been generated for the same customer and amalgamate them, so that the customer’s true record of activity, spend and value are available to the retailer.
Jonathan spoke about the need for retailers to invest in intelligent software that will help them to complete customer information in full, and recognise when duplicate records are being created – rather than relying on slow, manual data cleansing.
He also addressed the benefit of validating customer information through multiple independent sources; AFD recently increased suppressions by 500% for a European holiday company using its software, resulting in a 15% uplift in responses to marketing campaigns.
Getting on top of customer data
The impact of a well-run customer database became evident when Kevin Williams, IT Manager at British rose breeder, David Austin Roses, shared his story.
The company sends weekly emails to 400,000 customers, while it posts out a premium quality catalogue once a year, using details collected from a variety of sources including previous purchasers, web enquiries, and visitors to industry events like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. And managing the data from each of these sources presents its own unique challenges.
"The quality of data submitted through the web can be rubbish!” Kevin admitted. “Often, our call centre needs to have contact with the customer to get the information right.” Live events pose the same problem, as David Austin Roses collects customer details via postcard, and responses aren’t always easy to read.
David Austin Roses has invested in systems to improve the cleanliness of its customer data, in order to ensure that all marketing campaigns are as successful as possible. “If you’re not on top of your data, it goes out of synch very quickly,” Kevin shared.
The company has implemented processes such as printing each catalogue with a unique barcode, which links back to the Elucid multi-channel retail software used by David Austin Roses, so returned mail is correctly dealt with to make sure absent or disinterested customers aren’t sent further communications.
Integrating customer data with customer service
Good data quality is a powerful springboard for customer engagement, as we discovered from listening to Damion Norcombe, CIO at Axminster Tools & Machinery, speak about his firm’s initiatives to get closer to their target market.
Axminster has a loyal core customer base, and the company uses these strong relationships to enhance its manufacturing and sales strategies. Customers have the power to suggest new product developments, for example, which Axminster will research and manufacture in-house, offering royalties to the customer if that products successfully goes into production. “This is helping us to consolidate product range and cut out products that don’t bring us value,” Damion explained.
A lot of work is also being carried out behind the scenes to integrate marketing data with customer systems, to enhance CRM and customer service. “We needed to bring data together and store it in a way that delivers performance,” Damion added.
Recognising real value
While many of the points we discussed may sound basic, the truth is that many retailers are still grappling with how to turn the vast array of information available to them into a useful tool for nurturing consumer value. And a combination of thorough data cleansing and the right tools for processing, analysing and utilising information is critical to getting closer to customers.
Our retailers are working hard to build solid foundations, so they can launch innovative engagement and retention strategies with their own customers using their high-quality database as a catalyst.
As their chosen technology partner, the role of Sanderson is to integrate sales data to this equation, and provide a back-office system that enables them to make effective decisions, creating cross-channel customer relationships that drive loyalty and recognise value.
Elucid multi-channel retail software creates seamless, consistent shopping experiences by integrating ecommerce, mobile commerce, marketplace, retail and mail order sales with back-office fulfilment operations to improve service and profitability.