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More channels means more data for retail marketers

It's been true for many years now that companies can improve their marketing and sales efforts by incorporating more data collection and analysis into their everyday operations. For as long as the world economy has existed, merchants have been on a quest to gather more information and stay ahead of the game. But in the last five years, their ability to obtain more knowledge has risen exponentially.

As technology has branched outward and people have gained more avenues for keeping in touch with their brands and making purchases, information has become more readily available to companies everywhere. The key word here is "multi-channel" - in the days since the internet became a ubiquitous presence in people's lives, companies have had a wide variety of ways to hear from their customers. Previously, they were reliant on little more than in-person transactions and the occasional phone call, but the game has since changed.

According to ZDNet, the proliferation of multiple channels is expected to revolutionize retail marketing. Kelly Kennedy, senior vice president of enterprise sales at Infogroup Targeting Solutions, says that with more information coming from more places, companies can go far.

"The rise of mobile, tablets and social media has accelerated the growth of available customer data," Kennedy said. "A typical retailer knows not only the basic demographic information about a customer, but purchase history, call center interaction, mobile/social interaction, supply chain data and more. The sheer volume of information available to retailers is unprecedented, even for brands that have years of experience analyzing customer data."

New technologies contribute
Think about the innovations in technology that we've seen in just the last five years. Now that people are using smartphones and tablets as part of their daily routines, both in and out of the office, they're able to stay connected even when they're on the move. Collecting information from mobile devices will help companies learn more about the active, motivated professionals who patronize their brands.

Social media is another major innovation. Why invest time and money into answering countless phone calls when you can collect large volumes of information instantaneously from tweets and Facebook posts? These sites even include built-in mechanisms for tracking people's histories and geographic locations, which only sharpens companies' insights.

In all of these endeavors, data quality is crucial. When collecting information from multiple channels, there's always the risk of finding duplicated entries or data elements riddled with human error. Companies should embrace the large volumes of data at their fingertips, but do so responsibly.