Report Finds Retail Brands Slow to Deliver Personal Experiences

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Report Finds Retail Brands Slow to Deliver Personal Experiences


NEW YORK — Retail brands are struggling to meet the demands of consumers' rapidly increasing rate of product adoption and demand for experience.

In a new research report released by retail technology company Bluecore and conducted by Forrester Consulting, 39 percent of brands revealed that they are prioritizing customer-centric initiatives, like improving experience or increasing customer value. However, respondents with access to data and technology admitted to having difficulty delivering high-value personalized customer experiences at scale.

"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. "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."

Key findings of the Align Technology, Data, and Your Organization to Deliver Customer Value study 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 most important business objectives for their company this year, followed by customer experience (39 percent).

Twenty-one percent and 20 percent of respondents, respectively, believe they are effective at their two highest-priority objectives: customer experience and acquisition. This might be because half 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, and 30 percent said 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, Bluecore noted.

Thirty-six percent of respondents 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, 10 percent claim to have access to data in real-time or near real-time, 12 percent get it within a day and 42 percent said 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 said their marketing technology is contributing to their ability to improve customer experience.

Twenty-one percent said it helps them win new customers, while 15 percent credit it with creating or increasing customer value. Because of this, information technology (IT) resources, which are usually responsible for data management, are overloaded.

"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. 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 decision makers at retail enterprises in the U.S. and Europe for Align Technology, Data, and Your Organization to Deliver Customer Value. With 14 percent of all U.S. sales taking place online 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 included those in marketing, analytics and IT roles.

Align Technology, Data, and Your Organization to Deliver Customer Value is available here.