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10/28/2021

Holiday Retail: Clean customer data keeps sellers in the lead

Gartner says bad data hurts sales, decreases customer satisfaction, and costs as much as $3 trillion annually.

Consumer shopping habits have evolved, and retailers need to pay attention.

Online and mobile shopping – as long as the processes are smooth – hold great appeal as socially distant, convenient options. Customer change also includes new addresses, as 2020 saw mass migration away from urban city centers.

For retailers, this means recognizing new shopper priorities along with a slate of potentially out-of-date address data. It’s a challenging cycle – inadequate data can slow the purchase process itself, hinder shipping cycles, and tack on unexpected expenses correlating to deliveries and returns.

It’s clear that in this coming holiday season and throughout 2022, retailers would be wise to tackle customer data management as a competitive priority, embracing modern data strategies and tools that are easily assimilated.

Cleanse customer lists as a smart initial step to data quality
As many as 7 million American households experienced moves in 2020 – a real challenge for retailers to keep up with. But how do you reach customers with goods and services without correct address data?

Maintaining this data is an obvious but crucial effort that provides a distinct competitive advantage. But handle with care to avoid the error of making a single customer appear as two separate people. Such data mistakes come with a price, for example, estimating costs for marketing campaigns that will unintentionally reach the same person twice. Established tools like the USPS NCOA (National Change of Address) and Canadian NCOA move-update services are part of an optimized data strategy, reducing costs and the potential for undeliverable-as-addressed mail.

Smarter lists, smarter campaigns
Developing customer lists beyond names and addresses – such as adding email and phone data –helps identify customers even when conditions change. For example, while the physical address changes when someone moves, the email or phone often remain consistent.

These additional data points can be used as strong identity verification; followed by an address update, the retailer has essentially merged and deduplicated data for ideal business operations. Mistakes and costs are reduced, and campaign opportunities expand; for example, the addition of highly personalized SMS text campaigns.

Address auto-completion just makes sense
Auto-completion at checkout makes it easier for customers to complete their order and guarantees only correct data enters the retailer’s system. Cart abandonment is minimized, and auto-fill address fields populate with just a few keystrokes.

For retailers, this is a simple, proactive way to reduce address correction fees associated with bad data. There will be no returned deliveries or lost goods, just happy shoppers looking forward to their next excellent online experience with your brand.

Blurring the lines between residential and business addresses
Retailers must recognize both business and home addresses and be capable of discerning between the two. Why? The $2.95 charge for commercial delivery through FedEx becomes $4.40 per package when the stop is residential. These are costs that add up exponentially.

Tools such as a Residential Business Delivery Indicator (RBDI) help solve this challenge by optimizing delivery method prior to shipment. Retailers may even want to build this functionality into their websites to offer customers rate-shopping services.

Work-from-home adds a similar challenge to direct mail campaigns. How does someone who is not at their traditional desk receive their office mail? Tools such as list enhancement and full contact intelligence assist with this new reality, linking professional and personal data for an individual contact. Retailers can attach residence data, correlating emails and phones for a singular contact – tapping into an identity cross-matching strategy that helps packages arrive at the proper door.

Better data reduces fraud in real time
Good data helps retailers decrease online fraud, safeguarding transactions through multi-step verification of the customer identity. Is the person shopping truly who they say they are? Does the IP address indicate a location in Europe when the stated address is in California? Or are you dealing with fraud?

Digital identity verification tools are the key here, helping merchants verify customer authenticity in real time. Data points are checked and cross-matched one by one, confirming that the correct person is matched with the data provided, even if the transaction is already in progress.

The top retailers won 74% growth last year. To win your share, get smarter with customer data. Verify correctness and improve the quality of your data, adding components like name, emails, and phone numbers. Recognize that both business and home addresses have a part to play in today’s remote and hybrid workplace structure, creating impact on shipping expenses and campaign success.

Add seamless tools like auto-completion and digital identity verification, helping maintain a smooth and pleasant customer experience while at the same time combatting fraud. These steps not only prepare merchants for the holiday season, but create a foundation for steady growth all year long.

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