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Using data to drive innovation

RETAILERS ARE CONTINUALLY are continually trying to keep up with a changing market, emerging technologies, and evolving customer behaviours. Not only do they need to adapt to this fast-paced environment, they also need to consider ways to continue growing, setting themselves apart from the competition. Innovation does just that – it drives growth and ensures the survival of a brand.

Innovation isn’t necessarily about coming up with a groundbreaking idea that will disrupt the whole industry. Most of the time, it is about enabling new services or just making some improvements that will enhance the overall customer experience.

The route towards innovation should be supported by a well-thought strategy. Here, Philippe  Uyttendaele, Digital Agency Services Operations Manager at LiveArea, the PFS Agency, discusses how data drives strategy and innovation, allowing for progress and improvement:

1. Understanding the customer: digital analytics collaborate with overall services to create a single view of customers, collecting data at all touchpoints of their journeys. With a reliable overview of customers’ needs and preferences, retailers can make more informed marketing decisions and optimise their strategies, presumably leading to an increase in loyalty and greater spending from their customers. Understanding customers can be the difference between success and failure. Data should be at the centre of every decision, as it creates new opportunities and can also circumvent costly mistakes by helping businesses identify events before they occur.

2. Experimenting to learn: to ensure long-term success, retailers should pursue and develop new ways of advancing their business by experimenting. Philippe Uyttendaele underlines the success of the test and learn approach, which is at the core of PFS strategy to grow its clients’ online businesses. Retailers are encouraged to continuously challenge their established practices. PFS methodically evaluates and validates every clients’ strategy, making data-driven changes as needed to create an optimal shopping experience that elevates an ecommerce business to the next level. Businesses that adopt an ongoing cycle of testing, learning and improving, typically see their user experiences get progressively enhanced. With the insights gained from experimenting, retailers have access to a deeper understanding of their customers’ behaviour. This in turn drives higher engagement, loyalty, and revenue.

3. Setting clear objectives: contextualisation is key. The first question retailers should ask themselves before undertaking their journey into innovation is: what do we want to achieve? Retailers need to think through what they want to happen and if their strategy includes the acquisition of new customers, optimising conversion rates, or improving customer retention. All decisions and actions are then placed into the context of a specific strategy, and measured to evaluate whether or not they meet the business’s objectives.

4. Encouraging creative thinking: A company’s ability to innovate is closely linked with the company culture – creative thinking should be encouraged as much as possible among the teams so individuals learn to question set practices, and give alternative, insightful recommendations. Creativity flourishes when teams are allowed to take measured risks that will accelerate the drive for change and the pursuit of new, innovative ideas.

The need to innovate is clear in ecommerce and multichannel retailing. A successful route towards innovation is one that is data-driven: retailers first need to get the basics right by using data to improve their understanding of their customers. An ongoing test and learn approach will then help them take informed strategic decisions to set themselves apart from their competitors. Innovation will need a context to work, so defining clear goals and encouraging teams to embrace their creativity will play an important role in the process.

About PFS

A leading global commerce service provider, PFS   enables brand and specialty retailers to achieve their commerce goals. As an ecommerce solutions provider, we combine consulting, agency, technology and operations to deliver unique and branded customer experiences, creating Commerce Without Compromise. Learn more about our solutions at

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