By Conrad Bennett
The challenge this creates for retailers is the ability to keep pace with and respond to visitors and customers across each channel, and use the colossal amount of data that is collected in a way that will not only benefit the business but also the customer. According to a report from IDC, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. In fact, we create so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Traditional methods of digital data collection and analytics, whilst still very valuable, will only enable the retailer to respond after the engagement has taken place and this presents the risk of losing the visitor to a competitor.
This is where real-time analytics comes into its own. When engagement and conversion comes down to a matter of seconds, retailers need to have the tools and solutions in place to be able to respond immediately with relevant content, personalised offers and experiences.
In this article I will:
• Provide an overview of analytics and how it has progressed to real-time
• Discuss how it can be used by retailers to help drive higher conversions and increased sales
• Explain how real-time analytics can bridge the gap between insight and action
Real-time vs. historical
Traditional analytics have proved to be extremely valuable in providing insights that enable retailers to make decisions after a customer has engaged with the brand, and in informing future tactics around customer acquisition, conversion and on-going engagement. However, as consumer expectations continue to rise there is a pressing need for retailers to adapt new technologies that will enable as-it-happens visitor response, combining what they already know about a customer from prior visits with what is happening right now.
The ability to have data available within minutes or hours is a huge development. It enables retailers to make adjustments the same day, and more often than not, within a few hours. Retailers have the understanding of what is or isn’t working and the insight to justify changing it. Real-time analytics provides intelligence into visitor movement to, from and within a site, modifying messaging, content and offers to make immediate experiences more relevant, and to drive conversions.
Drive Relevance and engagement with customers
Whether your goal is to encourage a purchase or increase traffic, retailers are aware that understanding the customer’s need and responding instantly with an experience that is personalised and relevant is essential to stand out from the competition. The best time to convert a customer is while they are on your site and this means being able to respond to customer events and behaviour without time delay.
Real-time insights can enable retailers to drive relevant engagement through:
• The analysis of customer behaviour throughout their online experiences to improve conversions
• Optimised offers and site experiences to help drive traffic and increase converted shopping baskets through personalised engagement
• The ability to identify issues or revisions that can then be addressed in real-time
• The development of social site linkages to create buzz for new products and the ability to understand feedback and trends instantly
For example, when customers abandon their shopping cart, retailers can use real-time insight to send an email enticing the customer back within minutes.
Understand trends as they happen
By harnessing the intelligence about customers behaviour while the customer is still on your site is key to delivering the most relevant experiences. I stress the point that only by truly understanding the behaviour and trends of customers can a retailer make changes that will impact online experiences.
Using real-time insight, retailers can:
• View top products being viewed/placed in cart/purchased, and where those customers were coming from
• Identify and communicate to customers popular items and products that are running low on inventory to drive increased demand
• Create an interactive, as-it-happens social experience and understand which items customers are sharing/recommending online
For example, as online retailers could enable content curators to change the featured products and articles in the background based on interest or preference, real-time data would provide immediate insight into the impacts of those changes.
Action on analytics
Data can be used to make important business decisions that can impact whether a sale is made or not. Real-time insight empowers retailers to take instant action and takes away the fear of the unknown.
Actioning real-time insight means retailers can:
• Convert the customer while they are on the site through more relevant offers. Leverage customer information and in-session behaviour to convert more customers
• Show content that matches each visitor’s interests while they’re engaged on a channel, and become a brand they want to visit again and again
• See where customers are coming from so you can focus resources and maximise the effectiveness of your digital media spend
• Optimise content while the customer is still at your digital property
• Drive information back into your marketing ecosystem
The pressure on retailers to provide seamless experiences online will continue to increase with the emergence of new digital touch points that are fuelled by customer expectations. The depth of insight into customer behaviours online has increased significantly, and the ability to access those insights to improve online experiences is evolving at the same rate. Digital analytics moves fast, but customers move faster so the emphasis is on businesses in all sectors to keep up.
About the author
Conrad Bennett is VP of Technical Services, EMEA at Webtrends. His team is responsible for all pre-sales and professional support across EMEA and Australia. Prior to joining Webtrends, he worked for a number of BI vendors such as Cognos and Hyperion, and has spent the majority of his career helping companies turn data into information. Previous to that he worked for United Biscuits, and now spends most of his time talking about cookies. Outside of work, most of his time is taken up with his ensuring his two sons are brought up in the right footballing religion despite living deep in Manchester United territory (Surrey), motorbikes and snowboarding.