Fact: Accessing customer data in a format that allows retailers to identify trends on when, where and how individual customers like to shop and the type of products they prefer to purchase is invaluable in helping retailers to put relevant offers in front of customers using targeted marketing. But the challenge remains – how can retailers go about collecting and making sense of this data for a clear picture of customer shopping habits?
Banks and payments processors are miles ahead of the retail industry in documenting customers purchase history, with it being a fundamental part of their day-to-day business processes. NatWest has taken this a step further by offering customers a comprehensive annual breakdown on total expenditure by retail outlet, restaurant, hotel, attraction visited etc. So as a customer, you would know how many times you visited a particular restaurant that year and the total amount spent.
The financial sector spends much more than retailers on the technology that enables this level of granular detail, which explains how they are more advanced. However, they have an advantage on retailers, in that most of their customers only purchase a handful of products, where retailers are dealing with much larger product and range volumes. The issue for most retailers is amassing and analysing data, which is not a core retail competency, and without the technology in place to enable this, it’s near on impossible to make sense of it all.
Standards such as PCI: DSS have also made it more of a challenge for retailers to monitor customer transactions, with stringent and expensive guidelines to abide by if they are to hold and securely process customer card details.
Taking all of this into consideration, it makes sense for retailers to partner with a payments provider that has the capability to manage payments across the retail estate and multiple channels, with a central hub for all of this data to be stored for visibility of transactions across the business – ultimately to deliver a single view of the customer – then report in a way that can be exploited through marketing.
With the growing importance of big data, it will become common practice for retailers to work in a much more integrated way with payments processors and banks, to access critical customer data. As they say, knowledge is power!