Tuesday, September 3, 2013Market

Retailers often underutilize customer data

© Thinkstock/L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

According to a recent study by A.T. Kearney, there are many underutilized sources of customer data and retailers should increase their investment in the technology and skills to take advantage of these data sources. For example, less than half of retailers collect social network data from third-party domains, and just eight percent say it is “very important” in generating insights.

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One of the key findings of the study was that leading retailers are much better at collecting data, measuring activities, acting on their insights, and measuring again to see the results. A.T. Kearney refers to this principal as measure, analyze, and act.

Another insight from the study was that even with the proliferation of technology and vast quantities of store and customer data, retailers also need to focus on the core principles of retailing—employees, customers, and the interactions among them. The study found that retailers that most actively engaged their employees and customers were the most successful.

Joel Alden, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study, commented, “Leading retailers encourage measurement of the right data, invest in the skills to gain insights from that data, and use those insights effectively to frame future actions .”

The study also focused on how retailers were managing the multichannel environment. In this new environment, customers will often return products to a store that they ordered online, or ask a store employee to order an out of stock item through another channel. When employees are not measured on the success of non-store channels, they have little incentive to encourage the growth of those …

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