Leverage data to meaningfully engage with customers

Rupkatha Bhowmick

Retailers are always looking for ways to attract customers and increase sales, more so during festivals like the on-going Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS). Instead of inundating customers with mass text messages about offers and discounts, retailers should harness the intelligence and predictive capabilities of data to target customers effectively, reduce operational costs, enhance the customer experience and boost ROI, suggest Booz Allen Hamilton.

“UAE retailers must leverage the value of both internal data – including customer profiles, social media, footfall and transactions – and external data – including customer social profile, traffic and weather data to curate their offering to drive sales, while also optimising their engagement with customers,” recommends Booz Allen Hamilton vice president Danny Karam. “It’s about getting customers to personally engage with a retailer’s brand. Sending out blanket text messages or even e-mails is just not going to work anymore.”

Identifying contact points, such as stores, e-commerce sites, interactive displays where brands can learn about their customers is also critical in building personalised data profiles of individual shoppers, and in turn facilitating predictive intelligence-based marketing that exceeds the personalisation norms.

Smartphone connections across the Arab world are expected to grow faster than the global average, at a CAGR of 19% between 2014 and 2020, according to the Mobile Economy: Arab States 2015 Report from the GSMA. This enhances the role of social media in helping retailers develop a more personal understanding of their customer base, without expensive overhauls.

Data from platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can help retailers map their temperament, preferences and interests. Monitoring what’s trending online or hashtag clouds used by target audiences could also help develop targeted, personalised sales campaigns.

To truly get value from customer analytics, retailers must focus on expanding their sources of data, consolidating siloes of intelligence and then look not at what analytics can do for them, but what it can do for the customer. Approached in this way, data can provide actionable insights for retailers, as well as significant value for consumers by enabling the provision of relevant products, smarter services and a seamless experience.

As retail FDI in the Middle East grows in the wake of economic diversification, and new brands enter the market, retailers will have to tap into the vast reserves of existing data to capture the right audience and stay ahead of their competition during DSS and beyond.