New research from retail tech firm Bluecore and Forrester Consulting finds retail brands getting candid about their struggle to meet the demands of hyperadoptive consumers. Among the findings, up to 39 percent of brands reveal they are prioritizing customer-centric initiatives, such as improving experience or increasing customer value—but even those with access to data and technology admit to having difficulty delivering high-value personalized customer experiences at scale.
With 14 percent of all U.S. online sales and 39 percent of all offline sales influenced by digital channels, Bluecore sought to understand retail brands’ digital marketing priorities and how the evolving use of data in marketing is causing IT and marketing to converge. Survey respondents for the new report, Align Technology, Data, and Your Organization to Deliver Customer Value, include those in marketing, analytics and IT roles.
Research highlights include:
Brands rank customer experience nearly as important as customer acquisition
When asked to rank their three highest marketing priorities for 2020, 45 percent of respondents said that winning new customers was one of the three most important business objectives for their company this year. Right behind customer acquisition was “customer experience,” with 39percent of respondents citing it as one of their three highest priorities.
Only 21 percent and 20 percent of respondents believe they are effective at their two highest-priority objectives, customer experience and acquisition respectively
This might be because 50 percent of respondents claim to spend only 30 percent or less of their time on their top objectives.
Only 12 percent of respondents claimed to be very effective at delivering personalized experiences to customers
Just 30 percent say they are effective at driving seamless and consistent omnichannel experiences. Considering that personalization across channels is critical to achieving optimal customer experiences, retailers’ difficulties in these two areas explain their urgency to improve.
More than one-third of respondents (36 percent) have to wait up to a week or more for campaign or audience data
Despite pervasive talk about the use of real-time data in the retail and marketing industries, only 10 percent claim to have access to data in real-time or near real-time. Twelve percent get it within a day and 42 percent say it takes a few days to complete their data requests.
More than 40 percent of respondents believe their organizational structure hurts data management efforts
Getting the right technology is just one part of the solution: problems with process bottlenecks and organizational misalignment are just as crucial to account for as what tools will help deliver better customer value more quickly.
Only 35 percent of brands say their marketing technology is contributing to their ability to improve customer experience
Just 21 percent say it helps them win new customers. A mere 15 percent credit it with creating or increasing customer value. Because of this, IT resources (which are usually responsible for data management) are overloaded.
“This research confirmed a number of things we suspected, but also revealed new insights we weren’t privy to,” said Fayez Mohamood, co-founder and CEO of Bluecore, in a news release. “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 it. We did not know, however, exactly how few are able to scale their personalization efforts. 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.”
“For retailers, data is a massive untapped opportunity,” said Carrie Tharp, VP of retail at Google Cloud, in the release. “The winners in retail are those who embrace data, whether structured or unstructured, to create personalized experiences at scale and in real time. At Google Cloud, we provide an innovation platform for key partners like Bluecore to help retailers create highly personalized experiences for their customers.”
Forrester Consulting surveyed 307 marketing technology (martech) decision makers at retail enterprises in the U.S. and Europe for the study. The research was conducted between July and November 2019. Respondents represent apparel and footwear (62 percent), home goods (50 percent), health and beauty (43 percent) and luxury goods (34 percent), many working in more than one of these categories.