Digging Deeper With Omnichannel Analytics

What if retailers could do even more with all the data they collect?

Where do you do your shopping? If you’re like me, you’re all over the place.

I’ll see a shoe I like in a magazine or on a fashion blog (Jessica Simpson’s are my personal fav) and start researching reviews, prices and availability online.

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Omnichannel analytics means bridging digital and physical channels to recognize customers wherever they are.

Then, because comfort is key, I’ll find a store where I can try them on and make sure I’m not tottering around like a baby deer on heels that are way too high for me. And while I’m trying them on, I’ll use my phone to see if I can find a last-minute better deal because saving money is more important to me than instant gratification (well, most of the time).

It’s a dizzying process for the retailers trying to keep up with me as I jump from one channel, device, website and location to the next. And I’m not the only one – my fiancé goes through a similar process whether buying a tablet or new gadget for the house.

For years, that’s what omnichannel analytics has meant in retail.

It’s been about bridging all those digital and physical channels to recognize customers wherever they are, collecting data and understanding the retail customer’s purchasing journey – all to market the right Jessica Simpson pumps to me at the right time on the right channel.

But what if retailers could do more with all the data they’re collecting on all those different channels?

Omnichannel analytics for retail

Here’s how my colleague Lori Schafer explains omnichannel analytics:

“It’s allowing the retailer to apply analytics to every step of the customer journey. To be able to give that customer a much better experience, not just in terms of how we market to her, but also in terms of the ideal product assortment in each location, whether it be in-store or online. And also, how much and where the optimal inventory should go so we can satisfy that customer’s needs wherever she wants to shop.”

That’s true omnichannel analytics: Using data from multiple channels to improve all retail operations while also improving the customer experience.

It’s accomplished through a strong data strategy, analytical merchandising, intelligent marketing and an open ecosystem for analytics.

Omnichannel analytics supports unified commerce

In a recent Retail TouchPoints article, the omnichannel shopping experience is described as unified commerce that “goes beyond omnichannel by enabling a single, holistic platform, combining in-store, mobile, e-commerce and every other function within the enterprise.”

And that’s what omnichannel analytics provides – it supports a true unified commerce environment for retail. And 85 percent of retailers state that creating a unified commerce environment is their top priority, according to a recent Boston Retail Partners survey.

Breaking it down by area, here’s some of what retailers can accomplish with omnichannel analytics:

Laser focus your marketing by understanding customer uniqueness, knowing how digital and physical channels affect one another, building effective targeted marketing to cover millions of interactions and consumers each day.Optimize merchandising by planning the business for higher profitability, knowing which stores have similar product preferences, creating customer-centric assortments and knowing the right pricing strategy for each product life cycle.Adjust your supply chain by knowing if promotions are effective across channels to predict and plan demand, ensure the right levels of inventory and know where to fulfill e-commerce orders to reduce shipping costs.Enhance store operations by quickly analyzing your business and knowing what drives the customer’s path to purchase, communicating with customers in real time and determining optimal staffing and product placement to optimize productivity and increase sales.

Improve cybersecurity by knowing if your network is secure and quickly uncovering suspicious activities to protect customers, minimize fraudulent activities and reduce losses.

Take my Jessica Simpson pumps, for example.

A smart retailer with omnichannel analytics would have identified me as a multi-channel super shopper – their ideal customer. They’d know my social media habits and populate my favorite fashion blogs with personalized ads showing me the latest Jessica Simpson shoe styles for the season.

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That’s what omnichannel analytics looks like – it’s a seamless experience for the customer.

If I clicked through their ad to order the shoes but abandoned my cart, they’d send me an email saying that they’d noticed I’d left something in my cart and reminding me of their free shipping and returns.

If that still didn’t result in a sale, they’d follow up with a text message, inviting me to the store because they have the shoes I want in stock (thanks to their localized assortment). And when I went to the store, I’d get a welcome text message as soon as I walked in, providing more information about the shoes.

They’d also notify a sales associate that I was there and describe what I was looking for so that she could help me try on the shoes and complete my purchase on their secure network.

That’s what omnichannel analytics looks like – it’s a seamless experience for the customer. And that’s what retailers will have to provide if they’re planning to stick around.

This article first appeared on SAS Insights and was republished with permission.

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Brittany Bullard is a Senior Systems Engineer for the Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industries at SAS.

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