Deck the halls with boughs of data 

Gone are the days of enticing shoppers with festive windows and door-busting sales. As brick-and-mortar retailers continue to suffer from losses in revenue and iconic real estate, their shoppers are leaving behind the shopping sprees of Christmas past in favor of the internet’s infinite aisles and endless sales.

Fueled by advancements in mobile commerce, and lured by lower and lower prices as competition between large retailers and digital marketplaces intensifies, the battle for customers is becoming increasingly difficult to win. But this holiday, the challenge is also an opportunity.

The holidays are often the busiest time for retailers. This year, the smartest retailers are designing their strategic holiday plans around their most unique asset: customer data.

Customers now expect personalized, data-driven experiences across all of their digital devices, especially when shopping online. In many cases, it’s the retailer that delivers the most seamless, personalized experience that wins the customer’s loyalty and their holiday bucks. Saving a customer time and money is the new, shiny window retailers need to focus on.

But how can retailers effectively leverage the data they collect to provide that winning shopping experience? The answer lies in effective data management.

If companies want to benefit from their customer data, they must take the necessary steps to manage it as an asset, with ongoing guardianship and the right technology to ensure its quality. Ultimately, effective data management must be tailored around a retailer’s specific needs, with ongoing auditing and the tools to turn that data into actionable information.

Here are some data-driven strategies that all retailers can use to attract customers this holiday season:

One-to-one engagement

Whether you’re sending push notifications, targeted social ads or personalized emails with unique coupon codes, one-to-one engagement makes a customer feel special and valued by your business.

Collecting relevant customer data year-round — such as location, age, marital status and gender — facilitates personalized one-to-one messaging that entices customers to come your way.

Personalized shopping experiences

With the technology to deliver personalized shopping experiences, and targeted product recommendations available from companies like Salesforce, YotPo and Nosto, it comes as no surprise that customers now expect to see the item they looked at last week on the first page of your digital storefront.

Online shopping is all about convenience and saving customers their precious time. When data is collected on customer preferences, past purchases and browsing history, retailers can effectively present the right item at the right time so shoppers can quickly click and buy.

Analyze the path to purchase

With effective data management comes good analysis. The holidays provide the best opportunity to analyze web traffic to determine the most successful paths to purchase.

Whether trying to determine which deals and content drive the most business, what times or days of the week are peak shopping times or which ads are the most successful, a holistic approach to business and customer data analysis will prove invaluable.

Remember, capturing is key

We all know that it’s better to collect good data from the point of entry than to correct bad data in the backend. Good data collection and management technology are imperative, especially during the holidays.

Always be sure to capture customer information as accurately as possible using tools like address verification. While retailers can almost completely control their customer’s digital experience, when goods transcend the digital world into the physical realm, the experience becomes tenuous and at risk of disaster. Nobody wants to wake up on Christmas morning to an empty tree because dad forgot to include the apartment number in the shipping address!