In today’s connected world, shopping is a lifelong experience, where customers are just a few clicks away from making purchases, whether they’re browsing social media or keeping up to date with the news.

However, retailers need to work harder than ever to stand out and keep customers engaged throughout the buying journey.

To build brand loyalty and customer engagement, retailers must implement new ways to create highly personalized and seamless user experiences, while using, sharing and protecting customer data with the utmost integrity.

Additionally, retailers are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate their sustainability credentials – with 83% of consumers saying they think companies should actively shape environmental, social and governance (ESG) best practices, according to PwC.

This will only become a more widespread concern for retailers with the coming into force of new legislation designed to shine a light on ESG initiatives. Retailers must now refine their data management strategies to ensure the integrity of the data they hold.

Get to know your buyers

Today’s customer expects to be treated as an individual. To succeed, businesses must deliver personalized digital customer engagement that enhances their experience, anytime and anywhere they want to interact.

Personalization is not easy. It relies on a very deliberate and careful approach to putting together the right data points, developing a personalized profile for each client, and creating a path for constant improvement and refinement.

“To succeed, businesses must deliver personalized digital customer engagement that enhances their experience, anytime and anywhere they want to interact”

Artificial intelligence and machine learning make it easier to sort through and analyze huge volumes of data – with social media, web analytics and mobile devices giving retailers a much deeper and more nuanced view of their customers .

By enriching existing customer information with external data sources such as geospatial information (eg: footfall; demographics), retailers can understand a target group of customers on a level unheard of just a few years ago.

But to gain true insight, customer data must be organized, managed, and aligned, and relationships and patterns must be easily detectable.

After all, the quality of data analysis depends on the quality of the data provided.

At the same time, customer information must be carefully protected, both competitively and to meet increasingly stringent regulatory guidelines such as GDPR.

Clearly define your data strategy

In this era of rapid technological advancements, data governance serves a vital function within every organization, regardless of size or industry.

Simply put, an effective data governance strategy enables retailers to make decisions based on transparent and trusted data.

This helps them understand not only what their data assets are and how to access them, but also how to use that data most effectively.

It can also maximize and quantify the value of data by preserving its quality, measuring its value, and maintaining consistency of use across the enterprise.

Establishing a thorough data governance model can also help retailers actively monitor and report on their sustainability commitments, which is becoming increasingly important with new regulatory mandates.

Building for long-term success

From April 2022, new legislation in the UK will require companies with more than 500 employees and £500 million in turnover to report on their ESG efforts.

For retailers to be compliant, they will need to understand what they need to report, who is responsible for reporting, and where they can find the information.

Establishing a solid foundation of data integrity means companies can identify the most critical data to monitor and report on their progress with ESG initiatives, track quality, completeness and supply chain of this data, and demonstrate compliance with changing regulations and standards – helping retailers in their goal of meeting growing consumer preference for more sustainable products and processes.

Customer demand is constantly changing as life events unfold, purchasing preferences change and societal trends emerge.

The companies best able to extract meaningful insights from data – and demonstrate that they are doing the right thing to their customers – will establish a competitive advantage for long-term success.