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Market Voice 25 Jan 2022 - 4 min read

Personalisation smashed Christmas sales records. But the average retailer uses 44 systems to manage CX: Why you need a digital HQ in 2022

By Jo Gaines, - AVP, Salesforce Digital360 | Partner Content
Jo Gaines

Building a digital HQ is a top priority for retailers struggling with disparate systems and losing growth in the cracks.

Personalised comms helped retailers drive the holiday shopping surge in 2021, per Salesforce data. The problem is, retailers are using dozens of systems to manage their customer experience (CX) data, losing huge opportunities between the cracks. Jo Gaines says a digital HQ – with staff that know how to use it – must be retailers’ top priority.

A holiday shopping season characterised by the emergence of a new virus variant, supply chain disruptions, and lengthy delivery delays didn’t put off consumers from spending over the holidays.  

According to new insights from Salesforce, based on an analysis of over 1 billion shoppers, consumer spending broke sales records during the holiday season with retailers generating 23 per cent of their holiday sales during the final two weeks of the year, up from 11 per cent in 2020

As the pandemic continued to unfold, businesses had to make big changes to how they work and interact with their teams and customers. Our data reveals marketers ramped up personalised messaging to shoppers in a holiday push that paid off, employing tactics such as sending recommendations based on a shopper’s previous purchases or tailored communications to remind them of what’s in their cart. 

Despite the growth, the pandemic continues to pose a threat to consumer spending moving forward, with January’s consumer confidence at its lowest levels since October 2020 due to the most recent surge of Omicron, according to an ANZ-Roy Morgan survey.

As online shopping continues to accelerate, marketers will need to continue to embrace a digital and data-driven approach to create the online experiences today’s consumers expect, at speed, driving deeper engagement, and building more meaningful connections. 
 

Our research found that the average retailer uses an estimated 44 systems to manage customer experiences – meaning data lives in too many places for marketers to get the most out of what they know about their customers.

Disparate, siloed data is a handbrake on acceleration to digital-first experiences

Today’s shoppers want to connect with brands through various channels, both online and in-store — and they want every interaction to have a personal touch to it. Many will even abandon a brand after just two bad experiences, according to Salesforce's Connected Shoppers report. These high expectations show how important it is to meet customers wherever they are, and deliver personalised, consistent, and connected experiences.

Creating these experiences requires having access to a single lens or view of your customer data. However, our research found that the average retailer uses an estimated 44 systems to manage customer experiences - meaning data lives in too many places for marketers to get the most out of what they know about their customers in an efficient and timely manner. To realise any value, marketers need to unify all of their data across different channels, from in-store to online. 

Our data reveals marketers ramped up personalised messaging to shoppers in a holiday push that paid off, employing tactics such as sending recommendations based on a shopper’s previous purchases or tailored communications to remind them of what’s in their cart.

For example, by leveraging a customer data platform (CDP), marketers can gain a better understanding of how a customer interacts with their brand, including what factors lead to sales, such as price, offers, and products. Take a kitchen appliance retailer as an example. By creating a unified profile of the customer, a marketer can take everything they’ve learnt about that customer and send them a personalised offer for a specific product at the right point in that customers’ retail experience.  

Investment in loyalty programs delivers personalisation dividends  

With brands competing for customer attention, marketers must prioritise loyalty programs as part of their customer experience programs. Beyond rewarding customers, they enable marketers to efficiently collect data on their preferences and help create and drive relevant experiences that today’s customers expect. 

While loyalty programs have traditionally focused on a points system, our research reveals shoppers are willing to exchange certain personal information for more personalised experiences and benefits. Younger generations are also looking for experiential programs that instil a genuine and authentic connection with a brand. 

Mecca is a great example of this. The beauty retailer offered its members access to a number of exclusive events during lockdowns, including “meet the founder” events, as well as a series of panels via the Beauty Loop Loyalty Program. The result was that customers felt connected to the brand, with staff able to drive stronger engagement and build more meaningful connections. 

Digital HQs empower marketers to collaborate and do their best work from anywhere

Marketers thrive on collaboration. So, when the pandemic hit, it was important for brands to not just find a way to continue engaging with customers when they could no longer walk into a store, but also a way for their marketing teams to keep doing their best work — whether they’re in the office or online. Even as lockdowns were lifted and stores re-opened, many staff have continued to work remotely. 

That’s why building a digital HQ — an online workplace that connects all your platforms and your people, providing a better way for everyone to communicate, collaborate and innovate, from anywhere — became one of the top priorities that retail marketing leaders are carrying into 2022.

With the pace of change in the retail landscape showing no signs of slowing down, marketing leaders recognised that meeting customer expectations for ‘anytime, anywhere’ shopping experiences would not be possible without modernising their systems, and ensuring their staff have the right digital skills to continuously innovate.

After all, delivering the best customer experience starts with providing a great employee experience. If marketing teams don’t have access to the right platforms — and just as importantly, the right skills to use them — it can have a direct impact on the customer experience. This is because they won’t know when, where or how to engage with customers in the right way, at the right place, and at the right time. 

While most retail marketers understand that their teams have evolving roles and that the pandemic has forever changed the way they collaborate through the use of digital platforms, to ensure their teams are set up for success in the future they should also look to provide staff with access to platforms like Trailhead, helping them continue to build their digital skills. 

While we hope the worst of the last two years may be behind us, there will always be new challenges and opportunities that a digital-first approach is best suited for. 

 

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