Customers want to have one conversation. So much so that 90% of customers expect consistent interactions as they seek out a purchase with your brand across channels, such as your website, social media posts, and loyalty email communications. What we’re finding in most companies, however, is that disconnected data is the No. 1 reason why they are not delivering on this promise of an omnichannel retail or commerce experience. When 67% of purchases today are the culmination of a multi-device journey and we’re seeing record- breaking online shopping patterns, you don’t want to be the brand creating friction for consumers.

I spoke at the National Retail Federation (NRF) 2022 conference this week in New York to share why it’s important to address disconnected data problems now, allowing your brand to keep pace with the rapid evolution of the retail experience. In case you missed it, here are the top takeaways.

Download the “Own your commerce roadmap” quick guide.

Why you need to start connecting your data

Disconnected data creates an experience much like the game Chutes and Ladders. If your data doesn’t work cohesively, your shoppers are sent back to where they started every time they switch touchpoints. Shoppers will then become frustrated because the time they have invested getting to one point in the experience is lost and they’ll have to do it all over again. Disconnected data causes roadblocks to connecting consumer touchpoints, recognizing recent browsing activity, accurately identifying where people are in the buying journey, and delivering tailored, personalized retail experiences.

The key to omnichannel success is integrated data.

The key to omnichannel success is integrated data. An integrated data strategy can help your brand make a multi-device journey more seamless for the consumer.

With integrated data collection, your brand can deliver more personal and memorable shopping experiences, provide the right options for customers – whether it’s offering different products or ways to ship and pick up – and adapt to shopping behaviors as they evolve over time. Whether it’s augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), hybrid or metaverse shopping experiences, or store bots, having a solid, integrated data foundation will ensure you can turn touchpoints into transactions for the foreseeable future.

How to open the doors to cutting-edge retail experiences

1. Listen: Collect, unify, segment, & sync data

The true power of integrated data is its ability to enable your brand to listen to what customers are sharing through their interactions and use that information to mirror omnichannel personalization back to them.

You’ll need to collect data while creating customer profiles and act on their preferences for personalized experiences that will drive conversion and purchase. To do this effectively, start with your organization’s historical and first-party customer data, such as CRM data, customer service tickets, order history from your e-commerce system, or even offline data. Merging historical and behavioral data from every channel is key to delivering successful omnichannel shopping experiences.

2. Think: Put your data to work

As customers, we expect the best experiences we have with one brand to be replicated everywhere. We want engagements on our terms. And, above all, we want to spend time with brands that show they know us. Brands offering anything less are handing business over to their competitors. This is where decisioning becomes key.

Decisioning helps your organization put data to work by blending it in real-time with business rules and predictive analytics to power smart decisions on what to serve up to customers. Having technology that can assist with moving data through the decisioning process can help your brand ensure that every customer interaction – regardless of channel – is specific, personal, and relevant, so they’re moving your customers to their next best experience.

3. Respond: Personalize marketing on every channel

The action after you’ve successfully listened to your customers and leveraged decisioning to make smart conclusions on what to serve up to them is to start or continue the customer conversation using personalization across your channels. Meet customers wherever they are in their journey and, ultimately, influence the purchase.

With your historical and real-time adapting of behavioral data, provide the right information needed to build customers’ confidence in your product or service, and you’ll earn trust in your brand. Those with a brick-and-mortar presence can offer a hybrid experience that feels like personal shopping by personalizing across channels. Your organization can aim the consumer at what is of interest to them, remedy with supply chain issues by guiding shoppers to products that are in stock, and increase customer loyalty.

4. Rinse & repeat: Never stop optimizing

For continued success, you cannot expect one-and-done. The real power of data in terms of turning touchpoints into transactions is about having visibility and influence throughout the entire customer lifecycle. It’s about constantly collecting and integrating data, testing, decisioning, personalizing, rinsing, and repeating.

The last word about omnichannel commerce

As Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “The pace of change has never been this fast, but it will never be this slow again.” To stay relevant, and to stay connected with consumers, we have all had to adapt. Solving for complexity in the omnichannel customer journey means meeting your customers where they are and maintaining a conversation with them. Data allows you to cater to individual customer needs both online and offline.

To continue learning about how to deliver on the promise of omnichannel experience, I invite you to connect directly with Sitecore at eTail 2022 in Palm Springs February 28-March 2 or Shoptalk 2022 in Las Vegas March 28-30 and download the “Own your commerce roadmap” quick guide.

Jill Grozalsky Roberson is the Product Marketing Director at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn