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Data Analytics

CX analytic retail trends for 2021: Data selection, unification, testing and expertise

James McDonald, senior manager of analytics and customer insights at Capgemini North America, outlines trends relating to productive CX analytics. It's about identifying the right metrics, unifying data, evaluating CX changes and improvements, and working with experts who execute proactively on insights, rather than relying on reactive analysis.

CX analytic retail trends for 2021: Data selection, unification, testing and expertisePhoto by

| by James McDonald

As 2021's retail picture takes shape, it's clear analytics will play a major role in evaluating and improving customer experience for the long term. A January report found that among global retail decision makers, 80% use data analytics and insights to set their experiences apart from competitors, and three-quarters do so by combining and analyzing data from multiple sources

The challenge for many retailers is using the influx of available data most effectively to create those differentiated and connected experiences. That's why we see these trends as keys to productive CX analytics in 2021: identifying the right metrics, unifying data, evaluating CX changes and improvements, and working with data-led experts who execute proactively on insights, rather than relying on reactive analysis.

Focusing on the most important data

Using the right e-commerce KPIs can show what's working and identify areas for improvement. The most basic metrics for retail decision-making include site data, particularly session volume metrics such as:
• Total sessions.
• Sessions that reach a category or search page.
• Sessions that path to a PDP (product detail page) -or show engagement if they landed on PDP.
• Sessions that reach a checkout page.
• Sessions that transact.

Using these session-segments as a proxy to explore customer journey phases - awareness, consideration, conversion – and viewing them against different dimensions will reveal site friction points and strengths.

Voice of customer data is the other foundational information required for good retail planning. Pairing session data with voice of customer data can provide far more insight than session data alone, but not all organizations can do that yet.

Getting data out of silos to tell an accurate story

One of the most important trends of 2021 will be getting retail data out of silos. Doing this is a pressing matter for improving CX analytics — Forrester has found that more than 10% of decision-makers in the global retail space list data silos among their largest big-data challenges (Forrester Research, The Retail E-Commerce Metrics That Matter, Jan. 25, 2021).

One of the most common data silo issues occurs when there's no bridge between voice of customer data and website analytics data. Once those data sets are unified, you can see, for example, what customers who gave your site a low NPS score did on your website. Were there certain product categories, browsers, product categories, or devices associated with a poor experience? Unified information provides data with actionable insights, and the CX story becomes clearer and easier to improve.

Using CX analytics to test improvements

As CX quality continues to be a key retail differentiator, it will be critical in 2021 to test every change to the customer experience to ensure that those changes work as intended and to correct course when they don't.

For example, one retailer sought to give returning customers a faster payment experience by automatically skipping the cart-review step between adding an item and the checkout page. The goal was to reduce clicks, which usually increases completed checkouts and the order conversion rate. However, when the retailer looked at the data from their new process, they found that customers whose journey skipped the cart were less likely to complete checkout than those who saw the cart before paying.

With that data in hand, they had to think about why their improvement didn't work as expected. Perhaps these customers wanted to review their payment options in the cart and felt overcommitted by being taken straight to the checkout button. The next step would be to drill down into the possible reasons why, make changes to the process, and see if the cart conversion rate improves. After that, the retailer could continue testing ways to optimize checkout, using their data as a guide.

Working with analytics experts for faster data assessment and interpretation

Because analytics has such an important role in retail decision-making, and because there's so much data to sift through, many retailers choose to work with data experts who bring experience in their industry and vertical and have access to larger data trends. These experts can help retail executives and marketers identify the most important metrics to track, interpret their data, and use it to improve CX.

For example, a brand that sells through its own website as well as through retailers may have more sessions that end before transaction than its retail partners do. That can be perfectly fine if the brand's website contains education content that visitors view before they move to a retail site to make their purchase. To determine if that's what's happening, an expert analyst can track the number of sessions that engage with landing pages and rich content, how far visitors scroll on those pages, and how many times they return to the site.

Using those metrics, analysts can segment visitors into those who are moving deeper into the brand website's conversion funnel and those who are using the brand website to educate themselves before converting through a retail site or buying offline. In the second case, sessions that end with a landing page view can be acceptable. However, if visitors are leaving at navigation, search or category pages, there's likely an experience issue that needs to be researched and corrected.

Experts can help retailers parse the data and investigate the reasons for unexpected visitor behavior when needed. They can also help retailers automate readings of their KPIs and create dashboards that highlight the most relevant metrics, to make in-house review easier and more efficient.

As e-commerce competition intensifies in 2021, retailers and brands that use data wisely will be able to create the kinds of experiences that attract and connect with visitors, earn repeat visits and win customer loyalty. By focusing on the right metrics, unifying relevant data, analyzing the performance of improvements, and seeking out expertise, retailers can derive more value from the data they collect and engage more effectively with customers to create a more seamless end-to-end customer journey.

James McDonald is senior manager of analytics and customer Insights at Capgemini North America

James McDonald

On the weekends, you'll find James on the hiking trails or getting tackled by his kids.

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