More than perhaps any other industry, retail has faced an extensive shakeup with changing business models. Native online retailers have grown by leaps and bounds, while legacy brands with large physical footprints have experienced consistent falling sales. What has driven this change is the ability for online-only brands to personalize the customer experience based on past history and a number of other technological advancements.
This does not mean that traditional retailers are out of luck. Retailers that adopt an omnichannel approach to customer engagement find that they can more readily compete against the likes of Amazon and other native digital retailers. A focus on omnichannel retailing, where digital and physical channels are merged into a unified customer journey, can drive greater share-of-wallet and increased loyalty versus focusing on a single channel. Consider that engaged shoppers spend $373 per shopping trip versus only $289 per trip for actively disengaged shoppers.
To create an effective omnichannel experience, however, brands must be able to identify individual customers across channels and blend that data into a unified customer profile. Achieving this goal requires strong identity resolution capabilities, which leverage a combination of deterministic and probabilistic matching techniques to unify customer data across channels and devices. Three of the most important ways identity resolution supports omnichannel retailing are by:
- Informing a unified customer profile: Effective identity resolution blends data from multiple sources into a single composite view of a customer, providing a window into customer behavior and transactional history regardless of channel. For omnichannel retailers, this can include recognizing that the customer searching the website is the same one who just purchased something in the retail store and providing an offer based on that information.
- Enabling robust cross-channel interactions: Once retailers can recognize a customer across channels, they can provide a new offer regardless of where the customer appears next. If a customer appears in a physical store, they might receive an offer via SMS or a mobile app. If the customer visits a retailer’s website, they might get a coupon related to a recent purchase or recent research activity. The possibilities are endless once identity resolution processes are operating at a sufficiently high level.
- Creating consistent data across systems: As with other marketers, retail marketing departments often employ fragmented technology stacks full of point solutions that lock customer data into channel-specific silos. Robust identity resolution capabilities obviate these silos, enabling retailers to have a consistently up-to-date idea of where, when, and with what their customers are interacting at any given moment. Identity resolution also enables all customer-facing departments to work from the same data, ensuring consistency across functional silos as well as channel-specific ones.
Traditional retailers will need to leverage all the digital and physical assets at their disposal if they wish to compete against native online retailers like Amazon. Identity resolution capabilities are a key component of success in omnichannel retailing, empowering retail marketers with the ability to create unified customer profiles, interact with customers across channels, and ensure data consistency regardless of channel or function.