Big data’s notable upswing is helping retailers increase customer engagement significantly by generating experiences that are not just meaningful, but are also targeted and specific. Simply put, since big data connects everyone and everything, marketers must know how to collect, analyze, and leverage the wealth of data that’s out there. Most will agree that successful customer engagement now hinges on data to a large degree, but with it comes an entirely new set of challenges.
 
Since insights gleaned from new analytical and data-driven techniques are quickly becoming a key driver for customer engagement, it is becoming widely accepted as a critical strategy. But regardless of this universal agreement, not all retailers are able to leverage data with the same–and requisite–degree of effectiveness and sophistication. In fact, for most retailers, a substantial amount of work remains to be done.
 
ciValue is a Nielsen-backed retail analytics, segmentation, and personalization technology company dedicated to helping marketers use data to place the customer at the heart of their retail experience.
 
The goal is to help retailers and their supplier partners leverage data to generate highly precise and targeted marketing programs. What’s more, ciValue facilitates these efforts for retailers across high frequency categories that include supermarkets, drugstores, health and beauty retailers, and more.
 
“We see many of the retailers in this space making little use of their customer data,” Beni Basel, ciValue co-founder and CEO, told Loyalty360. “The majority is simply providing loyalty points back to customers, which is not very effective for retaining customer loyalty and growing basket size. But the retailers that actually do a pretty good job with this are those that can go beyond plain vanilla loyalty programs. The leaders in the loyalty and personalization space have very large in-house projects with many data scientists, or they are outsourcing projects. But the majority are doing very little to leverage data.”
 
Today, retailers either have too much data to analyze themselves or knowing what to do with the data they do have eludes them. ciValue solves the problem by taking retailer-collected data to enhance loyalty programs and to build intensely comprehensive customer profiles, which lead to more sophisticated segmentation, greater personalization, and–ultimately–increased ROI.
 
As a cloud-based solution leveraging big-data technology to conduct analyses that lead to personalized insights, ciValue integrates this approach at every customer touch point, including email marketing, SMS, and mobile applications.
 
While it is true that most retailers are beginning to recognize the importance and value of introducing these processes into their customer experience strategies, until very recently, the facilitating technologies, platforms, and services were unfortunately out of reach for many retailers.
 
ciValue is the change agent in this scenario. Employing a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, retail data science is within the reach of more retailers and easier to implement. Another goal that ciValue attained was maintaining sufficient platform flexibility to support the programs that align precisely with every retailer’s needs and objectives.
 
“A SaaS tool is really an enabler to marketers, making their job easier and more effective,” Basel explained. “Once the technology is affordable, markets can leverage their skills to augment technology. Marketers can work within the organization to leverage the right resources, define rigorous KPIs, prioritize objectives, and assess the competitive landscape. Once the right technology is there, marketers can maximize their impact on the topline revenue by putting a data-driven program in place.”
 
Beyond the initial setup and execution behind such a data-gathering and customer-insights generating approach, retailers must also understand how to continually hone and define the process going forward.
 
In this respect, there is growing emphasis on leveraging not just customer data, but real-time customer data from mobile devices and in-store beacons. The results of doing so are undeniably beneficial, but many retailers simply aren’t ready for this level of analysis.  
 
What’s more, others may benefit more from using data in a variety of other ways. So instead of blindly chasing after the ability to leverage real-time data, Basel recommends first understanding individual and internal retailer needs, and then leveraging customer data in the most appropriate ways from that jumping off point.
 
“If you look at many industries, leveraging the amount of data they have in their databases can unlock amazing possibilities,” Basel disclosed. “However, only after you already leveraged your existing data are you ready to move to real-time analysis. For real-time data to work, you need to have a proper marketing strategy around this data and with how to engage your customers.”
 
Basel said that some platforms, like ecommerce or mobile, are a great fit for real-time analytics.
 
“However, for other industries, it’s more of an uphill battle where you need to have the right systems and marketing programs in place in order to be able to leverage real-time data,” Basel added. “Real-time is just one dimension.”
 
Regardless of how a retailer leverages customer data, in the end it must align with the retailer’s promise and, ultimately, be used to increase relevant and meaningful experiences for the consumer. According to Basel, the time to figure out how start making that happen is now.
 
Now that retailers like Amazon and Alibaba have effectively revealed the length and breadth of now-possible customer experiences, customers are beginning to expect that same level of interaction and relationships from all other retailers.
 
“In order to compete with Amazon, retailers now have to focus on customer experience and customer data science,” Basel said. “They need to be proactive with customer engagement today. The product-centric approach has gone away. Today, the way to win is not just having the right store and the right location. The retailer must also leverage data to know customers and be proactive with them.”
 
About the Author: Mark Johnson
 
Mark is CEO & CMO of Loyalty360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs.

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