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INTERVIEW Matthew Gaunt of Wickes on using customer data to deliver relevant messages

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Retailers looking to stand out from the competition are using personalisation in order to ensure that they stay relevant to their customers’ needs. Ensuring that relevance is particularly important in the DIY business, says Matthew Gaunt, customer communications director at Wickes, in order that the messages and offers they send to customers are useful. 

“In this world, relevance is absolutely critical,” says Gaunt. “If you show people a lot of information about tiles and they’re not interested in tiles it becomes very, very irrelevant and your opt-out rates can go through the roof. Making sure you’re continually thinking about what is the customer project is important. “

Ensuring relevance to different customers

Wickes is working to ensure that what it does is relevant to three very distinct customer groups. Customers who come into its kitchen and bathroom showrooms are invested in a single, large, project. They take time to decide the details and their research may take them onto the Wickes website and back to the showroom several times. There, a kitchen or bathroom design helps them to visualise what their completed project would look like and provides a sales lead for the business.

Trade customers behave very differently. Around half use the retailer’s mobile loyalty app or key fob alongside a transaction, and says Gaunt, this helps it to deliver a more personalised service by surfacing the relevant data in a GDPR-compliant way. 

It’s important, he says, to recognise the people who buy more frequently. developing a relationship with them that recognises their loyalty is important. In the future this will go from offering interaction with local stores and vouchers to offering more relevant recommendations and prompts. Spend on data has doubled in recent years. “Getting close to data on those customers and personalising it to what they want is critical to that audience,” says Gaunt. “Really the biggest thing you get is not the sales response, it’s the data into what people are buying and what they’re not buying. We are able to look at that shopping data and see customer buying habits, the frequency of different customer groups, the people who have stopped shopping, and those who have started shopping a lot. The best loyalty schemes understand the data is the thing you’re buying, not the sales response from the activity, but the data and insight into your customers.”

The third group is of DIY customers who visit the website and the stores as they take on various smaller home projects through the course of the year, typically shopping with Wickes between four and six times a year. “The one thing you know about someone who’d doing DIY and has done a bathroom is that the next time you see them they’re not doing a bathroom,” says Gaunt. “It’s an interesting challenge – it’s ruling out things they’ve done before rather than ruling them in, which is interesting.” Here, says Gaunt, the retailer has worked to understand what the top 10 projects are that DIYers take on – at the top of the list are painting a room and hanging a shelf – and develop website categories and content around those projects. 

Learning from data

Gaining insights into the data has been key and over the last nine months the retailer has been starting to use AgilOne’s customer data platform to bring together customer profile, transaction and engagement data from nearly 50 different data sources, from Facebook to transactions, in order to show the customer the most relevant products. That brings together information about the customer with the products that they buy and powers website personalisation via Monetate. It is also the foundation for  personalised emails, SMS messages and enabling personalised service through its customer contact centre.

By understanding how customers in its different segments buy, Wickes has gained new insights into their behaviour. “We’ve gone through some interesting myth busting over the years from a range of data,” says Gaunt. “We’ve found the split between DIY isn’t a male-oriented thing any more. Women are doing DIY, from heavy to light, as much as men. We’ve found out how customers use our categories and found that while we would have thought cement was a big trade category, in fact many DIYers are buying cement as well.”

By relying on analytics rather than assumptions, Wickes has been able to develop its business faster. “We learn so much more about the real data answers to questions rather than having myths and beliefs that have come up,” says Gaunt. “That has allowed us to go quicker in lots of areas. If you take an issue off the table that you thought was a blocker, actually it turns out that you can go fast.”

The kind of data that’s used in such projects can sometimes seem overwhelming. Gaunt says the key is to stay focused. “The only way to make sense of big data, in a world of unending possibiities, is to stay focused on what you want to do. Use that as a single-minded springboard to ask the right questions that will drive you forward. What is the objective, and what will help you do better?”

This interview comes from the upcoming IRUK Top500 Merchandising Performance Dimension Report. Click here to explore this series further. 

Image courtesy of Wickes.

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