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Three Data Quality Trends from the 2015 Festive Shopping Period


As the dust settles on the festive shopping frenzy that started the week of Black Friday, it’s been widely reported1 that the growth of online this year looks to have changed the festive shopping landscape forever.

I took the opportunity to see how the data from our own online platform, which processes postal address, email and mobile validation requests for businesses collecting contact data online, measured up to this shift online. I noticed three interesting trends:

1. Black Friday becomes Cyber Friday

Our own data strongly supports the reported shift online, with postal address searches performed against our own online validation service up 65% across the festive season over the same period in 2014. The largest single increase was experienced on Black Friday, up 87%, as more shoppers chose to stay at home and avoid the crowds.

This year also marks the first time that postal address validations on our platform for Black Friday have surpassed Cyber Monday, although both days experienced nearly identical online traffic this year. 

So what does that mean for retailers? Ensure that you don’t overlook those online shoppers by extending your ecommerce discounts and traffic acquisition strategies across the festive period, and not just around Cyber Monday. From a data quality perspective that means putting measures in place early enough to effectively validate contact details from this increased traffic and get the very best data from your marketing efforts.

2. Postal addresses are more important than ever

It may seem obvious but for online retailers the benefits of ensuring the quality of address data in order to maintain operational efficiencies are huge. As more and more shoppers expect prompt 1-2 day deliveries, retailers are under the gun to ensure smooth supply chain management. Bad postal address data and returned parcels can severely hamper this delicate ecosystem and customer relationships.  That’s not to mention the impact of delayed or returned mail on profitability during a discounting season with already narrow margins

As I mentioned above, online sales increased on Black Friday by 36% whilst our own data showed a massive 65% increase in address validations on last year, in fact, we saw over 178 million postal address searches processed during November and December alone.  To me, that huge spike certainly accounts for the growth in ecommerce but also shows that more retailers are taking their address data seriously than last year and implementing address validation into their web forms. After all, capturing a correct postal address as the customer enters it during online checkout is considerably cheaper than trying to correct it later, when the customer calls to complain or their package is returned.

3. The rise of email

But what about email addresses? Quality email addresses may seem less important to operational efficiency when it comes to delivery (but what about those shipping alerts your customer never receives?), however, think about this… it’s Cyber Monday, your online shop has just gained thousands of first time purchasers. What will you do with all of these new contacts? Surely online retailers will look to capitalise on this new segment of customers via continued email marketing, hoping many of them return to purchase again (that is, assuming they receive the package from the first order!). 

Experian Data Quality validates over 1 billion email addresses online each year through its online platform, with nearly one quarter of those passing through during the festive period alone. This year, we saw email searches on Cyber Monday up 25% over the same day last year. This clearly shows that more and more retailers are finding value in ensuring the emails they get from first-time customers are accurate so that they can turn them into repeat customers.

There’s nothing like a spike in activity to sharpen focus but bear in mind it’s not just about the emails and addresses you collect during a few key days of the year. If you want to increase your customer reach during future festive shopping periods and continue to grow relationships with those new customers, then addressing the quality of your contact data should be an on-going consideration throughout the year. Putting the right foundations in place now will ensure you’re ready to maximise next year’s inevitable online shopping rush and deliver the best ROI on your marketing spend.

1. Changing retail trends – four day Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend generates more than £3billion total spend