Capture the Data - then Interpret It
Beyond ease of purchase and the ability to consult the opinion of other consumers, e-commerce has revolutionised the way information about a retail customer's journey to purchase is captured.
Today, such information is captured on a more individual basis. E-commerce enables retailers to know what particular customers looked for, how they reached the site, what they bought, and even associated and abandoned purchases.
Reconstructing the customer's journey was difficult when the sole purchasing channel was the physical store and the only traceable element the purchase. At best, the customer was only identified at the checkout, which militated against personalised recommendations.
Thanks to a better understanding of the journey to purchase, e-commerce has made it possible to better understand customer behaviour and react in real time. Distributors have considered applying these concepts across all sales channels - stores, call centres, etc. So, retailers today are challenged with fully understanding the customer journey across each one, while benefitting from greater accuracy.
This is not easy. Depending on the channel chosen by the customer, the knowledge obtained by the seller is not the same: as we know, whilst at the checkout, the customer will only be recognised if they own a loyalty card or have already visited the store. But, in the latter case, it will be extremely complex to make the link with past purchases. Similarly, a website may enable the collection of data on the intention to buy but it is extremely difficult to correlate these events with the purchasing transactions if they are not made online, and in the same session. The stakes are high, given that 78% of consumers now do their research online prior to making a purchase.
Talend, a 2016 Gartner MQ Leader and a groundbreaker in Big Data Analysis, suggests that one solution is to integrate sensors into the elements that constitute a customer's purchasing journey, then analyse and cross-reference this data to extract information from it. Some of our customers are already engaged in this process. It all usually begins with a detailed analysis of the customer's online journey, to collect information on intent, cross-reference it at an aggregated level with actual purchases, at the catchment-area level, for example, to determine correlations and refine segmentations. Then, this information is cross-referenced for a second time with transactional data from the physical stores and the website, which enables us to map the customer's journey from intention to buy to the purchase or beyond. Thirdly, it's a matter of developing a recommendation system in real time throughout the customer's journey to drive increased sales and greater loyalty.
The main future challenge facing distributors lies in the value-added services that they may be able to provide to customers, to accompany their products or service offering. Consumers have learnt to be wary of digital technology. More than ever, they will only be inclined to share information on their intentions and their profiles if their trust has been gained and they can perceive benefit in it.
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