Customer Data & Analytics Blog

eTail West 2017 Takeaways—The Data Dilemma

Ed Wolf | 2 minute read


The first week of March, thousands of the largest and most innovative retailers converged in Palm Desert for the annual eTail West Conference. While many trends pertaining to the retail world were front and center at the event, there were a couple of topics that seemed to be on the minds of just about all the leading brands—a strong focus on providing great omnichannel customer experiences, and the need for complete customer data to power them. 

Leading Brands Recognize Customer Data As Their Most Valuable Property
When it comes to customer data, retailers understand that they now have a treasure trove of valuable information—the key to intelligent and personalized customer marketing! With access to more data than ever before, they know they should be making better use of this information to provide their customers with personalized, consistent, and superior experiences across all channels. Most leading brands now value this customer data tremendously—indeed, many of them recognize it as their most valuable property, and employ large teams of data scientist and analysts to make use of it. 

Retailers Hunger for Unified Customer Data In A Timely Fashion
However, this vast amount of data leads to a couple of challenges. First, the fact that there is now so much customer information coming from multiple channels means that it’s often difficult to understand each customer on an individual level. One retailer we spoke with mentioned their frustration that, in 2017, they still have no reliable way to determine that a customer who interacts in-store, online, through an app, or via social media is actually the same person and not four separate customers. This of course leads to an incomplete and distorted view of the customer, rendering any attempt at providing a great experience lacking. Sure, they can employ their fleet of data scientists to wrangle all this customer data together, and develop algorithms for segmentation and purchase propensity,  but this is an extremely time consuming and manual approach and, even if it’s accomplished, the data is most likely stale and therefore not useful for marketing purposes. Retailers hunger for unified customer data in a timely fashion. 

Question Retention Efforts Without A True “360 Degree” View of the Customer
Another challenge that many retailers are facing is that, even with this incredible amount of data at their fingertips, they know that they still don’t have a complete view of their customers. While most brands are collecting purchase data, browsing data, and some basic demographic data, they feel that there’s plenty of customer information being left on the side. To get a truly “360 degree” view of the customer, retailers need to move beyond these few sources and add in social, in-store, deeper demographics, household data, and others. One VP of marketing analytics at eTail mentioned that she knows they probably collect only around 20-30% of the available data on their customers, and that because of this, she wonders how effective her retention campaigns really are. 

The Goal: Deliver Wonderful, Personalized, Emotionally Intelligent Experiences Across All Channels
Despite these challenges, the good news is that most of the retailers we spoke with at eTail are aware of these roadblocks in their data. Their goal is to learn as much as they can about their individual customers so that they can deliver wonderful, personalized, emotionally intelligent experiences across all channels. If done successfully, this will lead to happy, engaged and loyal customers, and profitable retailers who are maximizing the lifetime value of their shoppers while reducing churn and enhancing their brand. This win-win scenario is still something many leading retailers are striving for, despite the fact that it is within their reach today.

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Topics: Customer Intelligence