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Right customer. Right message. Right time. Right channel.

To make data-driven multichannel retail a reality and to prepare for an omnichannel future, retailers need to put individual customers at the centre of all they do, advises Garry Lee, CEO of RedEye

The world has changed. For years, retailers have known the internet gives customers more choice and that we’re moving to an era of the customer calling the shots. Now that this much-heralded era of customer-centric retail has arrived, what does it mean in practice for businesses? First and foremost, it means retailers have to build their offerings around customers or risk losing sales to consumers who have increasingly short attention spans and will quickly move on if they’re not happy.

This doesn’t just mean offering competitive prices, as important as this will always be. Customer experience, ease of use and conveying a sense of reaching out to engage the consumer at a personal level are all just as important. This customer-centric experience needs to cut across all channels. It’s not acceptable for retailers to email a message on Monday and then, when users come to the website or see adverts on their Facebook timelines, to discover that message is not being reflected. Consistency is crucial.

To achieve this, retailers need to return to a recurring idea within modern retail: developing a single view of the customer. The terminology here may be overly familiar to retail professionals but it’s an idea that needs to be front and centre as we move from a multichannel world where retailers market to lots of channels, to an omnichannel world where retailers market to lots of channels with the same message and customer experience across them all.

To do this effectively, retailers have to get a single view of the customer that collects data from all channels, online and offline. Retailers need behavioural data, transactional data, contextual data, profiling data and more. This is the way to understand what the customer wants and to use this understanding to tailor messages and experiences to them. However, there are nuances here. The danger with a customer-centric approach is that it risks becoming eerie. Making it about customers doesn’t mean telling them everything you know about them. Rather, it’s about tailoring individual experiences to individual customers.

As to when this needs to be done, the answer is now. With the Internet of Things starting to become a reality, retailers have to prepare for a world where, within five years at most, customers will expect the brand to follow them from channel to channel, device to device and interaction to interaction. And yes, one day very soon, your fridge really will order milk automatically when you run low.

Embrace this new era… it’s exciting. But remember that everything we’ve mentioned still relies on a key starting point: building a single customer view database. Without that, retailers don’t have a chance. A combination of more devices, channels and ways to communicate means more data and, ironically considering one of our starting points here is the arrival of omnichannel retail, there’s a real risk of creating new data silos. So start now to get your house in order. Then, as each new innovation arrives, don’t just worry about how it will work. Instead, wonder what data it will give you and how you can use it to better serve the customer and create loyalty.

About Redeye

Our goal is simple: to help you deliver amazing results. We’re fans of big words like ‘Multi-Channel Marketing Automation’ but really, we believe that sophisticated solutions can be simple. All RedEye products are driven by a unique database that combines all customer data – online and offline – into a single view. We then make this vast depth and breadth of data available to you through tools and interfaces you’ll like using. Wherever you are in the process of optimising your marketing, the RedEye team is there to help.

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