3 Steps to Successful Data Convergence

Countless articles have been written about the differences between omnichannel and multichannel marketing. But the only thing you really need to know is that one provides a seamless customer experience while the other can leave shoppers feeling a bit fragmented.

Omnichannel strategies ensure that audiences encounter the same level of service on your website or app as they do in stores, and vice versa. You need to approach all channels as one system, rather than creating individual campaigns for mobile, desktop, and brick-and-mortar locations.

A data convergence system that analyzes both online and offline data is your best bet for building an omnichannel presence because it enables you to create an engaging, hassle-free customer experience. Data convergence is essential for establishing companywide KPIs, and it helps facilitate fast adoption of new tactics to improve customer satisfaction.

Leveraging Data Convergence

Important as it is, developing an efficient omnichannel system is challenging. You can’t just do a data dump of your online and in-store stats and expect to see patterns emerge. Consumers’ “real world” and online shopping behaviors vary dramatically.

Online conversion rates hover between 3 to 5 percent in the U.S., but they shoot up to 30 percent when people buy in-store. However, direct comparisons between the two don’t work — you draw more traffic online, so you have to measure each differently. The key to data convergence and omnichannel marketing is to find ways to universalize your system and KPIs.

Online shopping is popular because people enjoy the choice and convenience it provides. They’ve grown accustomed to the option of purchasing what they want when they want it, regardless of time constraints. That’s why “click and collect” shopping has become popular. People can order what they want online and pick it up at a nearby location. They enjoy the comfort of buying from a website and the immediacy of picking it up when they need it. This is a perfect example of how the lines between online and offline continue to blur and why omnichannel is becoming the default experience.

The most important factor in setting up a successful data platform is having a central administrative hub that’s accessible to every department. This cuts down enormously on admin costs and the need for intermediaries, and it empowers managers to apply the data to their teams’ processes. A centralized system also helps you identify sales trends, as well as which products need to be replaced often — this is key to getting products out in a timely, efficient manner. The combined online and offline data is quite useful for creating personalized, highly targeted marketing strategies.

Let’s look more closely at how to use data convergence in an omnichannel strategy:

Conduct a requirements analysis

requirements analysis helps you identify opportunities to implement convergence across all available systems. For instance, Michael Kors allows customers to return items in stores even if they purchased them online. This makes the customer experience that much more enjoyable because they don’t have to worry about different rules for web purchases. Such conveniences play a significant role in earning customers’ loyalties.

Implement retail analytics

In order to create a true omnichannel experience, you need to collect data at every point in a customer’s e-commerce and in-store journeys. Wi-Fi and global systems for mobile communication (GSM) provide a wealth of information on shoppers’ behaviors, which you can integrate with your online analytics.

Consider a potential shopper who searched your website for a particular sweater or kitchen product but, in the end, bought nothing. Geotracking technology can alert your system when a shopper visits the physical store, which will push a relevant coupon to her smartphone as she walks through the door. You’re nudging her toward a sale based on products you know she’s interested in, as opposed to offering a blanket deal that doesn’t apply to her. Though some shoppers balk at the idea of brands tracking their locations, the technology is incredibly powerful when leveraged appropriately.

Include all departments

One of the biggest challenges to data integration is creating a comprehensive system that accounts for every department’s needs. Your IT, marketing, sales, and product teams likely have their own analytics programs that each exist in their own disconnected silos. Instead, have all divisions align their analytics KPIs so they all benefit from data convergence. The goal is to provide a frictionless customer experience, and full collaboration is necessary to achieve that.

Omnichannel planning is increasingly crucial for a competitive customer experience, and it’s only possible through data convergence. You must blend your online and offline services so shoppers can make purchases when and how they want to. By leveraging your data, you ensure that you’re serving your customers (and your business) as effectively as possible.

Roberto Ugo is co-founder and CTO of Movvo.