The unprecedented growth of the e-commerce industry has some predicting that retail e-commerce sales will reach nearly $2.5 trillion by 2018. 

With this industry growth comes an increase in competition. As more e-commerce companies enter the field and the Internet increasingly influences sales, many marketers struggle to efficiently and productively acquire and retain shoppers. The right insights make it possible to know what will resonate with consumers and deliver the best experience accordingly. 

Let’s take a look at some best practices when it comes to collecting and analyzing data, as well as determining actionable insights to deliver value-driving e-commerce experiences.

1. Embrace the Entire Customer Lifecycle: Acquire, Engage, Retain, Repeat

Marketers have long taken a myopic approach to the customer lifecycle, looking discretely at tactics within the acquisition, engagement and retention phases. This siloed approach needs to be dropped. Marketers should look at the whole customer journey rather than its pieces. Brands can then identify both what a person is trying to accomplish in that specific interaction, as well as what that shopper’s longer-term engagement with the brand will likely entail. 

Understanding a consumers’ previous interactions helps marketers create relevant experiences that resonate at every stage of their journey, helping to boost shopper loyalty. 

2. Anticipate Your Customers’ Next Move

The ability to anticipate shopper actions is a differentiating capability for retail marketers. Despite the proven benefits of personalization, less than 10 percent of top retailers believe they are highly effective at personalization and nearly one-third report having limited or no capability to support personalization efforts, according to research from Gartner

Personalization is key to improving engagement and to do so, marketers must learn individuals’ likes and dislikes, their interests, and above all, be able to discern individual intent from collected and rationalized web behavior., for example, has demonstrated a mastery of customer data analysis. It knows its audience so comprehensively that it can anticipate shoppers’ wants and needs, allowing them to personalize offers, sending shoppers relevant shoes and other merchandise before the shopper needs to ask. It’s these types of relevant and engaging experiences that make consumers come back to your brand.

3. Unify Data Across All Touch Points

There are many ways for e-commerce brands to connect with consumers, whether it be on the web, in app or otherwise. With the variety of channels and ways in which shoppers use them, it’s difficult to ensure data is not only being collected at every interaction, but also shared across touch points to create one cohesive customer experience. 

An additional challenge comes when different people within a company “own” different interactions. A lack of persistent communication between these various interactions hurts data aggregation and analysis, making it near impossible to create a seamless customer experience. For example, if a customer shops for a coffee table on a store’s website and then continues shopping in the app, the data from the customer’s original search should be captured so they are being delivered coffee table specific content in the app as well.

According to Adept, the months of November and December drive 30 percent more e-commerce revenue than non-holiday months. Yet, even as holiday shopping winds down it’s as important, if not more so, for marketers to continuously improve customer data management practices. This way, when the holiday shopping season returns, brands will have already developed a loyal customer base.

When done right, customer data management gives marketers the insights they need about individual consumers to drive better business outcomes. Each piece of data, no matter where it is gathered from, provides information that can make or break brand experience. By understanding the customer lifecycle, anticipating consumers’ next moves and unifying data across touch points, marketers will be able to create relevant customer experiences that keep them ahead of the competition.

Title image by Jake Hills