Today, customer expectations are evolving at an uncomfortable pace for retailers. Customers expect your brand to understand what’s important to them as a consumer. They want personalised experiences and to be shown things that are relevant and timely. This combined with a highly competitive nature and its razor-thin margins makes retail a tough market. And so, it has become a matter of survival for retailers to deliver the most tailored experience possible to customers, to keep them happy and to keep them coming back for more.

But, how do you personalise the experience of each and every customer when you’ve got thousands visiting your stores and e-commerce sites every day? Most retailers believe the answer to be the ‘single customer view’ – also known as ‘360 customer view’.

This approach is about putting individual customer’s needs at the heart of your marketing strategy to deliver a better customer experience. It’s about aggregating all the data you have on an individual customer, organising it and structuring it to give a clear view of that individual; their habits, their preferences, their values.

There are many benefits to adopting a single-customer view approach, such as better segmentation, personalisation, and the ability to deliver more cost-effective marketing campaigns.

So, how can data analytics help you achieve all the benefits of a single customer view?

The first step is to become a data-centric organisation. If you are to understand your customers and offer them a personalised experience, you need to have information on who they are. This was highlighted in recent research of 500 business decision makers in the UK and Germany, which revealed that 82 per cent of retailers are committed to implementing a data-centric strategy in the next five years, with almost a third stating this is already in place. However, more than half are yet to implement a single customer view in the omnichannel era due to the challenges associated with data storage, management and analytics.

It’s pouring data

The chances are, data is everywhere in your organisation – ESP, CRM, website, PoS, in-store, e-commerce platforms, social media channels. Then there are third-party data sources to help you plug the gaps and really get to know your customer. The list of data sources is endless and daunting. But, a single customer view isn’t achieved just by gathering a lot of data and dumping it all in a lake.

In fact, many organisations have a lot of data, but – without an army of data scientists – they struggle to get any meaning or value from it. A single customer view is about more than storing data. It requires a fully defined strategy, and it requires the data to be accessible and useable by marketers. You need technology that can sort through the data and help you understand the information contained within it, as well as visualise it in a way that different business teams can understand.

Data-driven insights: the way to a single customer view

Once you have successfully developed a data strategy and deployed the right technology and tools to help you get true business value from your data, you’ll have a more accurate understanding of your customer’s behaviour. With the right information, you can make informed decisions across platforms and make adjustments to promotions, price and product stocks in real time based on customer behaviours. This means you can tailor your marketing to the individual’s preferences, delivering measurable value and ROI. Some key areas where single customer view gives huge benefits are:

On-target targeting

Whatever the platform or channel, being precise with your targeting can improve your ROI significantly. This is about more than segmentation – it’s about understanding an individual’s habits using the data you have. What email promotions have driven clicks? What email promotions have got them to the check-out basket? Understanding all these points will lead you down the path to increased sales.

The ultimate CX

A single customer view not only helps with bring in additional sales, it creates a relationship with the customer – a relationship that is sticky. If you can deliver an experience that aligns to your customers’ preferences and values, as well as expectations, you’ll earn their loyalty.

Attribution – the mother of all headaches

What exact actions led to a purchase? With so many channels and platforms available, attribution really has become the mother of all headaches. There’s PPC, traditional marketing, word of mouth, and so on. With a single customer view, you can track interactions and chart the journey. This makes attribution far easier than previously possible and enables you to show marketing’s true value.

The Future of the Single Customer View

Exasol research found that while 70% of retailers are using data for marketing and sales decisions, only 46% have implemented data analytics to better understand their customers’ behaviour and needs across channels. The new battle lies in better understanding and successfully anticipating what will appeal to individual customers. Winning that battle is reliant on having the right data strategy and exploiting the speed and depth of insight now made possible by in-memory analytical databases.

The Internet of Things will shift the pace of change and makes that single customer view even more important. IoT will deliver even more data to retailers, whether in store, elsewhere in the purchasing journey, or from third party devices. It’s important that retailers who are not yet satisfied they are there with the single customer view start getting this right.

Sam Sibley

Sam Sibley


Sam Sibley is Strategic Partnerships & Alliances Manager at analytics firm Exasol.