Retail brands are openly acknowledging their ongoing struggle to meet the demands of 'hyperadoptive' (a rapid, simultaneous uptake of new behaviours) consumers, with 39% saying they are prioritizing customer-centric initiatives, such as improving experience or increasing customer value, in response to consumers' rapidly increasing rate of product adoption and demand for experience. This article is copyright 2020 The Best Customer Guide.

However, according to a research report from retail technology company Bluecore, conducted by Forrester Consulting, even those brands with access to both data and technology admit to having difficulty delivering high-value personalized customer experiences at scale.

Forrester surveyed 307 marketing technology (martech) decision makers at retail enterprises in the US and Europe for the study, entitled 'Align Technology, Data, And Your Organization To Deliver Customer Value'. With 14% of all US sales taking place online and 39% of all offline sales being influenced by digital channels, the study sought to better understand retail brands' digital marketing priorities and how the evolving use of data in marketing is causing IT and marketing to converge.

Highlights from the report included that:

  • Brands rank customer experience nearly as important as customer acquisition. When asked to rank their three highest marketing priorities for 2020, 45% of respondents said that winning new customers was one of the three most important business objectives for their company this year. Right behind customer acquisition was "customer experience," with 39% of respondents citing it as one of their three highest priorities.
  • Only 21% and 20% of respondents believe they are effective at their two highest-priority objectives, customer experience and acquisition respectively. This might be because 50% of respondents claim to spend only 30% or less of their time on their top objectives.
  • Only 12% of respondents claimed to be very effective at delivering personalized experiences to customers. Just 30% say they are effective at driving seamless and consistent omnichannel experiences. Considering that personalization across channels is critical to achieving optimal customer experiences, retailers' difficulties in these two areas explain their urgency to improve.
  • More than one-third of respondents (36%) have to wait up to a week or more for campaign or audience data. Despite pervasive talk about the use of real-time data in the retail and marketing industries, only 10% claim to have access to data in real-time or near real-time. Twelve percent (12%) get it within a day and 42% say it takes a few days to complete their data requests.
  • More than 40% of respondents believe their organizational structure hurts data management efforts. Getting the right technology is just one part of the solution
    problems with process bottlenecks and organizational misalignment are just as crucial to account for as what tools will help deliver better customer value more quickly.
  • Only 35% of brands say their marketing technology is contributing to their ability to improve customer experience. Just 21% say it helps them win new customers. A mere 15% credit it with creating or increasing customer value. Because of this, IT resources (which are usually responsible for data management) are overloaded.

"The research confirmed a number of things we suspected, but also revealed new insights," said Fayez Mohamood, Co-Founder & CEO of Bluecore. "We knew that even retailers who have access to mass amounts of customer, product and behavioral data, don't always have the ability to derive insights from and action it. We did not know, however, exactly how few are able to scale their personalization efforts. This will change when retail brands recognize that it's not only data and technology that need to work together, their marketing and IT infrastructures need to evolve to work together too."