A new study says retailers struggle to provide personalized shopping experiences and the seamless, consistent omnichannel experience that modern consumers demand.
- According to a study from Bluecore, 45% of retail brands said customer acquisition was one of the top three highest marketing priorities this year.
- Only 12% of respondents felt they were "very effective" in providing personalized experiences to customers.
- Approximately 36% said they must wait up to a week or more for campaign or audience data, while just 10% said they have real-time or near real-time data available to them.
Ever since the widespread adoption of the internet, the nature of the modern consumer has changed. Gone are the days when the average shopper casually walked into a store to see what it had to offer. Now, shoppers can research every detail about your small business before they even set foot through your door.
This "rapid and simultaneous uptake in new behaviors," defined as "hyperadoption" by Forrester Research's Vice President and Principal Analyst Dr. James McQuivey in 2015, has shifted how retail brands market themselves and try to retain customers.
According to a new survey of more than 300 marketing technology decision-makers at U.S. and European retail companies released today by Bluecore and conducted by Forrester Consulting, retailers are aware of the changing dynamic but feel helpless in trying to adapt.
Bluecore CEO and Co-Founder Fayez Mohamood said the research was necessary in order to understand how the digital marketing priorities of retail brands and their use of marketing data is "causing IT and marketing to merge." While the resulting data provided some fresh perspective on the issue, he admitted that it "confirmed a number of things we suspected but also revealed new insights we weren't privy to."
"We knew that even retailers who have access to mass amounts of customer, product, and behavioral data don't always have the ability to derive insights from and action from it. We did not know, however, exactly how few are able to scale their personalization efforts," he said. "This will change when retail brands recognize that it's not only data and technology that need to work together, their marketing and IT infrastructures need to evolve to work together too."
Retailers ranked their priorities
As they look forward to the rest of 2020 and an increasingly "hyperadoptive" consumer environment, researchers asked survey participants to rank some of their company's most important marketing priorities. With a focus on customer experience, 45% of respondents said "winning new customers" was one of three top priorities to consider. Customer experience followed up with 39% of respondents ranking that as one of their three largest priorities.
While those top two priorities were consistent among large swathes of the respondent group, the perception surrounding their effectiveness in those areas was markedly low. According to the survey, just 21% said they felt like they were effective at delivering a good customer experience. Similarly, 20% said they felt good about their customer acquisition efforts. Those low figures, researchers said, could be justified since half of the respondents said they spend "30% or less of their time on their top objectives."
Only 12% of respondents said they were good at providing a personalized experience to customers, while 30% said they were competent at "driving seamless and consistent omnichannel experiences."
Real-time data matters
As retailers grow more conscious of "hyperadoptive" consumers, data remains a key instrument in learning how best to serve the modern consumer. With access to real-time marketing data, retailers can refocus their efforts when necessary.
Unfortunately, according to the survey, approximately 36% of respondents said they have to wait up to a week or longer for marketing campaign or audience data. Researchers said just 10% of participants have some form of real-time or near real-time data capabilities. Furthermore, 12% said they get their reports within a day, and 42% said it "takes a few days" to receive requested data.
Researchers also found that 40% of respondents were willing to blame their organizational structure for why their data management systems are so slow. Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail at Google Cloud, emphasized the importance of fast and accurate sales data for nearly any business out there.
"For retailers, data is a massive untapped opportunity," said Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail at Google Cloud. "The winners in retail are those who embrace data, whether structured or unstructured, to create personalized experiences at scale and in real time."
With the right marketing technology in place, 35% of brands said their tech contributes to their ability to improve customer experience. In fact, 21% said their marketing technology helps get new customers through the door, while 15% credited it with increasing customer value.