Sustainability, loyalty programs, AI, and a re-imagined in-store experience were just a few of the session topics and general themes from NRF 2020. Roughly 40,000 attendees, 800 exhibitors, and 500 speakers descended on the Javits Center in New York last month to discuss, share, and learn about many pressing issues pertaining to retail.
The urgent need to create personalized customer experiences was a central theme throughout. Ancillary to the importance of competing on experience was a concern from retailers about the need to keep things simple – both for the customer and for marketers tasked with transforming data into hyper-personalized experiences that drive revenue. Erik Nordstrom, the co-president of Nordstrom, expressed the sentiment nicely when he said that he has yet to hear a customer ask about the store’s various channels. Analysts, he said, might be interested in sales per channel, but customers only care about a seamless experience regardless of how they interact with a brand.
Delivering a seamless customer experience across an omnichannel journey starts with data, and underscores the need to create a golden record – a single customer view that contains every conceivable data point for a customer. Real-time access to a persistently updated golden record provides marketers with all they need to create hyper-personalized experiences at scale – while hiding complexity from the customer.
Meet the Customer in an Omnichannel Journey
At NRF 2020, I had the privilege of moderating a panel with executives from Talbots, Lovesac, and Coldwater Creek, who shared how they are using customer data to power differentiated customer experiences – and why it’s so important to help keep their retail businesses on a growth path.
Sue Beckett, the Vice President of Digital & Direct Marketing for Lovesac, echoed some of what Erik Nordstrom said about while channels might not matter to the customer, the need to orchestrate the customer experience across the omnichannel journey is vital to the company.
Beckett noted that 80 percent of Lovesac customers begin a journey online before visiting a furniture showroom, and conversion depends on knowing who that customer is when they walk in the door. “Understanding and making sure we can connect those experiences is really important,” she said. To do it correctly, she added, requires integration of all customer data. The golden record, said Beckett, is the key to Lovesac engaging a customer or prospect with a personalized experience.
“It’s important to ensure that all the data sits in one place so that we can actually target and personalize in a smart way,” she explained, adding that by knowing everything about a particular customer or prospect allows Lovesac to “deliver the right experience through the right part of the journey.”
Eliminate Data Siloes, Eliminate Friction
Paul Lazorisak also sat on the panel. Lazorisak, Senior Vice President of Performance Marketing for Coldwater Creek, a women’s apparel company, said that in the past the company’s marketing efforts were largely siloed by channel, with dedicated teams for email, digital, direct mail, and so on. Today, he said, technology that delivers a single customer view is central to its goal of keeping up with the customer in the context of an omnichannel customer journey.
“What we really want,” he said, “Is to make sure we have an audience we can speak to in whatever channel she (the customer) is in at the moment. If I have an audience of petite women, it’s not necessarily figuring out how many emails I can send her anymore. I’m looking for how to best orchestrate that experience in print, in digital, and in email all at one time … without having to go through five or six separate teams to make it happen.”
Match the Cadence of the Customer
The need to deliver personalization in real time was another key theme of NRF 2020, and in the Redpoint-hosted panel. Chris Dargis, the Senior Vice President, Ecommerce & CRM, Talbots, explained that real-time access to the persistently updated golden record is critical to decisioning, and for staying in cadence with the customer throughout her journey.
As an example, Dargis pointed to in-store associates using tablets to deliver a clienteling experience. The tablets, he said, provide an associate with detailed records for every online, in-store, and call center interaction for a customer. “I want to know what (the customer) did that morning, and have (the information) available that afternoon for the store associate,” he said. “If she’s normally buying pants but today she was looking at dresses, I’m not going to talk to her about pants. It’s about that moment – what she’s looking for today vs. what she looked for last time. Real-time data availability makes a very big difference, particularly in that high-touch, human interaction environment.”
Learn More About a Personalized CX in Retail
Building on the discussion at NRF, Steve Zisk, Redpoint Senior Product Marketing Manager, will take more technical look at how to leverage customer data to deliver personalized experiences in a Redpoint webinar on Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. Zisk will discuss how to build the golden record, how to measure results, and how to optimize data to ensure the customer is always met with a next-best action in the context of an omnichannel journey.