Actionable, realtime data is king

By Saj Sana

In a time of true digital transformation, the retail industry faces many problems today. However, there is a simple solution to fix some of them and for some parts of the retail sector unless they do market forces will decide their fate.  

Data is the new frontier of innovation

The problems that retail businesses face, all stem from a place of uncertainty. In this period of great flux and change, some retailers might be unaware of the availability of good data; alternatively, they do not have the technology to convert data into actionable insight. Whilst many are sat on a wealth of knowledge, they simply don’t have the ability to uncover insights in such a way that allows them to capitalise on the market opportunity. Data has a tendency to sit in silos and by the time it is manipulated into something useful it is often too late.

Harnessing data to fast-track sustainable business growth

With the advent of big data and privacy regulation, what started as a new wave of competitive forces have not yet converted into best business practice. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of lost revenue every day because we are ignoring vital insights such as customer experience. We now have access to data and connected touchpoints and slowly, but surely, we are turning these into positive action and initiative.

At vvast, our approach starts by asking the right questions. What do we need to know? Data is created every second, via a Google search, a tweet, or an Instagram post. It is imperative that first and foremost, we collect the right data, and in a legally compliant and transparent way to the consumer. Next, data must be classified and organised so it can be analysed effectively.  Retailers who have adopted a systematic approach are able to unlock the potential to have the right stock, grow sales and improve customer experience to build good business. You simply can’t deliver exceptional customer experience without effectively drawing insights and actions from different data touch points of customer journey and offering a truly personalised experience.

Personalisation is the next frontier

How customers land on a website, view, and purchase products can be personalised based on geo-demographic profiling; buying history; product detail; and acquisition channel preference. All of this information can be tailored to improve the experience, customer retention and sales. Effective forecasting or demand planning is pivotal and the quality of data, algorithms, past and current trends can help to forecast or demand plan in terms of stock control and customer behaviour, in a much more reliable manner.

Pricing wars – the battle to the bottom or a race to the top

The market giants, such as Amazon, engage in an ongoing battle to audit and monitor the shift in pennies. They constantly benchmark who is selling, at what price and in what product category. Some see this as a way to control the bottom line. At vvast, we see it as a race to the bottom and deploy pricing software for a smart approach. We take into consideration a vast array of micro and macro drivers and present a considered market price that will optimise stock control and deliver the right price to the right customer at the right time. Our aim is to create peak sales and phase stock to minimise waste and increase profit in a win win for brands and consumers alike.

He who wins, who knows when to fight

By leveraging data to connect the dots you can continuously improve the customer experience. It’s important to frame your audience in context of both acquisition and retention to create the appropriate approach, be that a loyalty initiative, referral scheme, or some fresh incentive at point of sale. Budget will all come from the marketing pot, but you should be wary of the pitfalls of a scatter gun approach. Impeccable timing is the killer app otherwise you will simply run out of cash.  

Consider yourself on a long journey to deliver lifetime value. It will take time to build insight and you need to know what to look for and when to act. Insight into frequency, recency and perceived value creation will allow you to sell now but plan ahead to build long term brand equity. The rules of engagement are all about building a database of the most engaged customers. From here you can develop a strategy based on actual buying habits, in real time. Upfront marketing costs of 30% of net revenue can come down to sub 8% depending on where a customer is in the cycle.

Customer Lifetime Value – Think D4C

There is a pricing war on product and collateral damage is the impact on customer loyalty. Retailers are guilty of training clients on a diet of discounting. At vvast we are developing an approach that puts the customer at the heart of your brand and delivers you invaluable bang for your marketing buck. Read more about our D4C ethos here. Data is king only when you know how to use it to your advantage. If you get it right, then you can leverage ROI for the brand while delivering delightful customer experience that builds loyalty and a lifetime of devotion.