Understanding customers and their behaviors is a critical element of any online retailers’ success.

Truly understanding customers and their behaviors is a critical element of any online retailers’ success. But gathering and harnessing customer data and leveraging it effectively can be a struggle. To explore how retailers can overcome these obstacles, Internet Retailer recently sat down with Christopher Hansen, chief operating officer at IgnitionOne, a customer intelligence platform provider.

IR: Why is customer intelligence so important today?

CH: With the emergence of ecommerce’s new devices and platforms, retailers must optimize their strategy across more customer touchpoints than ever. The multitude of touchpoints can result in a fragmented view of the customer. A lack of understanding of those fragments inhibits marketers’ ability to personalize their approach to each customer. As a result, many retailers are turning to customer intelligence to understand their customers better, generate sales and optimize the customer journey.

Christopher Hansen, IgnitionOne

Christopher Hansen, chief operating officer, IgnitionOne

IR: What role does customer intelligence play in a retailer’s omnichannel strategy?

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CH: As the retail industry continues to adapt to the digital era, marketers need to embrace technology that maximizes the range of customer touchpoints now available to them. Customer intelligence platforms help these marketers deliver a seamless omnichannel strategy that boosts customer engagement and builds lasting customer relationships.

IR: What customer intelligence obstacles are retailers confronting?

CH: Today’s customer journey spans multiple channels and devices, across a brand’s website, mobile app, physical store and social media. According to a recent study by ResearchLive, 87% of retailer respondents say they believe an omnichannel strategy is critical to success; and yet, only 8% say they have achieved a successful omnichannel strategy.

IR: What can retailers do to overcome these challenges?

CH: Personalizing customer interactions across every touchpoint can have a major impact. IT consulting firm Infosys recently reported that 78% of consumers would engage only with offers that have been personalized to reflect their previous engagements with a brand. Retailers need to ensure that they are leveraging data to truly understand their customers and deliver personalized interactions that drive brand loyalty.

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Retailers also must deliver a seamless customer experience. Statistics portal Statista predicts that by 2020, every person in the world will own an average of 6.9 connected devices. That means retailers need to implement identity resolution capabilities to recognize each customer as the same individual no matter the channel or device. Finally, to maximize the potential of every channel, it’s essential that retailers unify data from different sources into a single platform. Organized data makes it easier to scale marketing efforts, measure campaign performance and adjust strategies accordingly.

IR: How does technology help retailers leverage customer intelligence?

CH: Tools and technology can help retailers deliver data-driven recommendations by leveraging their pool of customer data. Using customer intelligence, merchants can create customized audience segments and identify customers with similar attributes. By connecting demographic data and consumption trends, retailers can provide customers with options that can best suit their needs and preferences.

Technology also helps retailers engage with customers in real time. With customer intelligence tools, retailers get up-to-date insights into each customer’s products of interest, level of engagement and stage in the customer journey. With these tools, retailers have the identity resolution capabilities necessary to ensure their interactions with each customer build upon that individual’s unique relationship history with the brand. Cultivating continued conversations with each customer is the key to brand loyalty and retention.

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