For many years, retailers could get away with thinking of digital and physical consumer interactions as two separate categories of customer experience. Not anymore. Today, merchants who fail to integrate data in their omnichannel strategy are struggling to bridge the physical-digital divide and risk falling behind competitors who understand that the modern consumer shops fluidly between channels, devices, and payment experiences.
In fact, some retailers don’t see a divide at all. “I see digital and physical as a wonderful convergence that results in customers engaging with your brand more often across more touchpoints,” says Julie Roy, chief marketing officer of shoe and fashion accessory retailer DSW.
For Roy and other forward-looking retail executives, omnichannel retail is an opportunity to forge stronger connections. And with a seemingly endless array of options at consumers’ fingertips, it’s more important than ever for merchants to personalize their messages so that they can create meaningful and lasting bonds.
Doing this requires data—lots of data. “Data is the new oil of our industry,” says Casey Klyszeiko, Head of global e-commerce and Carat at Fiserv, a leading global provider of omnichannel payments and financial services technology solutions. “Data can help retailers understand their customers at a deeper level so that they can deliver more relevant, contextual, and personalized experiences and ultimately drive better performance.”
The question for retailers then becomes: How best to use the data you collect to engage with—and keep—customers today and in the years to come?
GEOTARGETING DRIVES ENGAGEMENT AND SALES
One tool that retailers are finding increasingly useful is geolocation data. When merchants know where their customers are, they can deliver personalized, hyperlocal, geotargeted content across channels to drive engagement and sales.
For example, say a consumer is shopping online for the jersey of a player on their favorite team. The retailer can use browsing history and location data to contact the consumer with information about the nearest store where the jersey is available in their size. To further entice the customer, the retailer might offer a 20% discount if the purchase is completed the same day. Once the customer is in the store, they are likely not only to buy the jersey but also to pick up an additional item or two—purchases they hadn’t even considered when they were browsing online.
“Brands now have new ways to drive better customer experiences,” Klyszeiko says. “It’s all about making things personal, easy, and flexible for them online, in-store, and everywhere in between. We’re all in the experience business.”
Retailers can also use location data to deliver locally targeted promotions, information about local delivery and pickup availability, and news about local product drops or other location-specific shopping experiences. Applied consistently across many customers, geotargeting can result in big gains for merchants. In fact, according to Carat Insights, geotargeting results in 65% more revenue per visit compared with traditional consumer in-store experiences. The same application can also promote job vacancies at the nearest store location, creating the opportunity to turn loyal customers into future employees!
DIFFERENT MESSAGING FOR DIFFERENT COHORTS
Location is only one data point that retailers can leverage to drive customer engagement. They should also pay attention to data that speaks to what motivates customers, how they consume content, and how they are behaving over time.
One of the biggest differentiating factors for consumers is age. Younger consumers tend to spend more time on social platforms, particularly TikTok and Instagram, whereas older consumers tend to spend more time on Facebook. Merchants should focus on creating channel-specific content that addresses particular cohorts and doesn’t feel like traditional advertising.
For example, DSW works with TikTok-specific content creators to connect with younger generations while sticking to tried-and-true tactics like direct mail for older consumers, particularly those who have been shopping with the company for many years. “What’s important is that everyone feels heard, noticed, and valued within their shopping experience,” Roy says.
ENABLING CONSUMERS WHERE THEY ARE
Consumers now consistently move across multiple channels to pay where and when they want, whether at home, through their connected cars, or on their phones. “Consumers might begin their buying journey via a merchant app, complete it in store, and review their experience online,” Klyszeiko says. “It’s a commerce experience that meets consumers wherever they go.”
Omnichannel commerce will create new data sets of consumer behavior that will be noticeably different from a consumer interacting with a merchant solely in store, via the merchant’s app, or through an independent marketplace. Merchants will need to build new data models to market effectively and should be prepared to partner horizontally or vertically to reach consumers where they are.
Carat, a commerce operating system from Fiserv that lets businesses optimize payments and create new customer experiences, can help merchants leverage data at every stage of the customer life cycle. By integrating hyperlocal access to emerging omnichannel technologies such as scan and go, order ahead, voice command, and connected car, Carat ensures that retailers have all the necessary tools to reach customers in the appropriate channel at the right time.
“Ultimately, it’s about having a great product assortment, offering ease and convenience, and speaking to customers with compelling stories that inspire and engage,” Roy says.