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The Retail Industry Needs to Become Data Capable

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Retail Industry Outlook, 2018 saw a strong U.S. economy and a record-breaking holiday season. And while the retail industry witnessed mixed earnings, one constant remained — customers’ expectations are on a steep incline.

Becoming a data-capable organization requires significant changes to be made at the leadership and technological level in order to serve the right incentives to the right customers at the right time via the right channel. The current mentality focuses on using digital and physical channels as complements to differentiate themselves and drive better customer engagement. As a result, businesses are in a race to shift their operations from “digital first” to “data first” to fully maximize the benefit of using real-time data insights to directly affect customer engagement and create a 360-degree customer view across all channels.

It’s no secret that we’ve moved beyond the big data era. We’re now in a new era called the “Extreme Data Economy.” In essence, data-capable businesses need to be able to translate massive volumes of complex data at unparalleled speed into omnichannel insights. Doing so is required to maintain business in motion.

To survive in this new era, it’s incumbent upon business leaders and technologists to evolve their thinking around omnichannel data to the point where it shapes the customer experience, real-time engagement, and product placement and pricing. As we see the growing importance of the omnichannel customer, decisions around data must be woven into the very fabric of the customer journey and back-end operations.

The Power of Location and Time

Location intelligence plays an important role in improving operational efficiency across a number of organizations. It’s more than visualizing information on a map — it allows businesses to drill down and analyze location and time data together better to understand what’s most valuable. For marketers, this can mean understanding consumer preferences, behavior and loyalty better based on when, where and how often someone shows up.

For customer support, this can mean creating a better customer experience since physical location is usually a big part of servicing a customer. Predicting arrival, delivering timely solutions to urgent issues, and routing all play a big part in location and time service activities.

Businesses that generate location data can create new revenue streams by building data services for other companies and industries. Telecom companies and payment processing vendors, for example, generate a huge amount of location data with high value that can be sold to retailers and other businesses. Location data is very valuable, but businesses need to ensure user privacy by anonymizing the data.

Being data capable is having the ability to establish and implement robust data strategies that allow organizations to visualize their business as it happens, and act on it in a way that affects customer relationships. However, this movement towards being focused in data has yet to firmly take root in most organizations. As we see the growing importance of data across the omnichannel retail world, a new mentality and foundation is required. Data needs to become the glue across all channels. This new approach must weave data into a unified strategy that consolidates customer experiences and translates them into out-of-the-box strategies for engagement that drive category leadership and competitive differentiation.

Daniel Raskin is the chief marketing officer at Kinetica.

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