Article Series

Integrating the Customer Journey

Integrating the Customer Journey—Part 1: Unscrambling the touchpoints

May 16, 2018
   |   by 
Bill Robinson

One of the most challenging features of retailing in the digital age is the ability to both track the customer journey and make it seamless. It is challenging for two reasons: (1) it is difficult to identify and measure value and (2) most retailers lack the nimble, “integration-friendly” infrastructure needed to realize value.

If you are like most retailers, your IT group is looking at several initiatives to digitally track the customer journey. This four-blog series will help you develop and prioritize these projects. In our role as premier data integrators for retailers, we have come to realize that it is data integration, more than anything else, which unlocks value.

That’s why we will look at tracking the customer journey from an integration point of view: Which enterprise tables must you expose for each potential point of interaction? What value can you achieve with pertinent data capture, analysis, insight and action?

Each retailer develops its own customer journey map. And many worthy consulting firms can help you define your unique path (references include Boston Retail Partners). In the graphic below, our universal shopping model will help you explore the opportunities, as well as the market-ready solutions, of each customer touchpoint. There are four sections:

• Shopper gains awareness.
Where the retailer develops its brand and the shopper becomes aware of the benefits of a particular product or service. It can take place in a short interval (impulse buy) or take months to develop. And it is an area where retailers have historically done very little and developed no measures of success.

• Shopper explores possibilities.
When the retailer becomes aware of customers’ needs or wants and engages with their quest for knowledge, benefits and alternative evaluation. This is the area where most retailers are active in automating customer interaction but lack a coherent approach to integration and analysis.

• Shopper shops.
When the retailer is facilitating the purchasing part of the customer journey, whether in-store, online or mobile. Here, success is determined by the level of service, convenience, price and numerous other sales tactics. Most retailers do a good job through their POS and commerce apps but lack the tools to drive insight and action on the backend. Also, there are typically many issues with seamlessness because of redundant and poorly-synchronized data files.

• Shopper places item in use.
When the retailer is hopeful the shopper receives the perceived value when the item purchased is put into use or becomes a cherished gift. Apart from customer returns and complaints, the retailer is largely clueless about post-sale customer touchpoints and lacks the backend tools to drive insight and action.
Individually, every customer touchpoint use case is very intuitive and easy to integrate. But in the totality of the customer journey and experience, seamless integration is a major challenge. We’ll delve deeply into each area over the next four blogs.

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