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Future of Retail Q1 2022

What role does data play in the future of retail?

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Chris Daly

CEO, Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)

Like many others, the retail industry has become an increasingly data driven environment, particularly as more businesses migrated online due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

As we enter a post-pandemic world, one of the biggest challenges for retailers will be knowing how to get data insights that offer real value to their business and bring them closer to customers. There are three key data challenges retail marketers will face and they must understand how to overcome them.

Understanding the customer experience

Success for any retailer can only be achieved through a first-class customer service experience, but with the customer journey ever changing, many marketers are struggling to keep up. Businesses must understand that consumers are facing challenges that are shifting their priorities – from recovering from the pandemic, to the rising cost of living.

It is crucial for retailers to take advantage of both offline and online data to ensure they can provide hyper-personalised shopping experiences that their customers enjoy and will want to experience again. Similarly, retail marketers should use data to ensure they are creating meaningful and relevant content and promotions for their customers, which tap into what they are really looking for.

The most important challenge for marketers is building trust with consumers.

Upskilling in data analysis

With electronic point of sale systems and loyalty cards now commonplace, marketing departments are in danger of being swamped with data but unable to glean actionable insights. As data becomes ever more important, CMOs should consider building a marketing team that has the right balance of skills – seeing data analysts as part of the department is something we need to see more of.

Building trust with consumers

Perhaps the most important challenge for marketers is building trust with consumers. After a turbulent few years, many people are re-evaluating what is important to them. Marketers need to ensure their brands do not get caught in the cull.

Some brands are doing this through loyalty programmes, for example the Tesco Clubcard. Not only does this foster a sense of community, but it also gathers important data to keep your loyal customers on side. This focus on brand loyalty will certainly grow, so marketers need to find a way to secure their target audience for the long term.

Keeping up with change

Retail is a dynamically evolving industry and data will only become more integral to the way it works. Businesses and marketers must be equipped with the right mix of technologies, data and team skills to be able to keep up with the fast pace of change.

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