Guest Column: Analytics of the B2B shopper must break down silos
Thanks to social media and analytics, shoppers today expect a smooth and personalized shopping experience.
This expectation ranges from finding a look on Pinterest or seeing what an influencer on Instagram is wearing, to purchasing it within minutes. And there’s no difference in whether they buy online or in person.
With rich content and an awesome user interface, the Web store brings all the details to the shopper on her mobile device. But when she walks into the store, she expects the experience to be personalized and supplemental to the research she has already done. She expects it to be convenient to buy the entire look – from moisturizer and makeup to sandals and skirt – in a single transaction. Then the cycle repeats when she gets instant feedback on her Instagram feed.
By 2020, there will be more connected devices on Earth than people. The availability of data from these devices will create newer opportunities for companies. Unfortunately, most brands – not just fashion, but everything from craft beer companies to shampoo – are not yet ready to handle this flood of data.
In the shopper-centric world we are living today, everything is connected. However, most companies carry out analytics in silos. Social media insights are not enriching the CRM systems, nor are they influencing late-stage product designs. Very few companies are able to match the fast fashion requirements.
To overcome these challenges, first and foremost, apparel and fashion companies must connect the various data silos. Some companies have a head start as they have centralized business intelligence (BI) teams comprised of people from every function.
Data analytics solutions can help consolidate the data silos into one logical view that allows brand owners to hear their customers and respond to their needs quickly. This can help them build an overall constructive relationship, and putting an end to some key complaints – such as customers only receiving promotions about products they’ve already purchased. Using these tools, they should be able monitor social media to find key insights and predict what their customer is looking for – whether they are on their couch or standing in the doorway of their store.
These tools use shopper demographic information to enhance collaboration with B2B partners, i.e., by sharing direct-to-consumer/retail sizing insights with them and learning one or two things about the shoppers in the geographic area. This data can then be used to improve the promotions – that strike right at the heart of the customer’s core sentiments – and deliver them right into the shopper’s hand at the right time.
Tools such as these can even identify the online influencers – based on metrics such as followers and the engagement rate of those followers – and target them with product launches and promotional activities to improve buzz. A recent study by Harris found that U.S. spending dedicated to experiences has increased by 70% compared to 30 years ago – and nearly 80% of millennials would choose to spend money on an experience over an object. Therefore, expect retail and restaurants and things like art, gaming, sports or concerts to collide through not only social media, but also virtual and augmented reality.
But these experiences and your online presence needs to be created thoughtfully and with purpose, and of course, with data to back it up. A robust platform must include brand awareness/engagement tools, recommendations engine, integrated sales and promotion planning, supply chain event management, along with the core commerce engine.
To handle the data explosion in the coming years, companies must create an analytics organization that is nimble and has a startup mindset. This organization must be tasked to build analytics apps which are self-contained, yet if required, can look into every corner of the organization for the relevant data and provide revenue generation or profit-enhancing insights.
Only when all that is in place will the smartphone revolution benefit the brand owner just as much as the shopper.
Srinivasan Rajamani is VP and global head of CPG of Wipro Limited.
An important paradigm shift to consider with voice is, the value of voice is not for marketers to push more massages to their consumers, but to enable consumers to use their voice to simply ask for what they want, when they want at a price where they find value they expect. The age of push media will be pushed to the edge. 'Consumer Voice' is the new marketing imperative!