Why Clean Customer Data is Crucial for E-Retailers During and Post Pandemic

Melissa UK Team | Ecommerce, United Kingdom

COVID lock-down has caused ongoing consumer fears about situating in busy public areas, leading to a downturn in high street sales for retailers, as a result, a greater appreciation for the convenience of online shopping has led to those in eCommerce experiencing a surge in sales during the pandemic.

By the end of the year, online sales are projected to increase by 20%, not to mention the comparison against the pre-pandemic estimate of 12%. Furthermore, edge retail reveals that the Covid-19 health crisis is anticipated to add almost £5.3 billion to the UK’s eCommerce sector by the end of the year.

Retailers need to maintain and more importantly continue their growth during the pandemic, and while many that are in eCommerce remain resilient, ensuring the best practices with their customer data will prove particularly important when it costs five times more to acquire a customer than to retain an existing one.

As many of us continue to work from home the good news is that many decision-makers in retail may lesson themselves from the distractions of a busy office environment which gives us the perfect opportunity to review systems and processes around their data and make necessary changes to their data quality regime.

Clean customer data, your most vital asset

Customer data unquestionably is one of the most valuable assets a business can have, enabling retailers to guarantee timely deliveries, reporting and segmentation to marketing and analytics efforts so that retailers can gain more insight into their customers to further tailor to their needs, in turn returning and spending more in the long term and bettering customer satisfaction.

An important factor to note is that without regular intervention, customer databases go stale at a rate of 2 per cent each month, occurring over 24 per cent over the course of a year. Therefore, without taking action to mitigate this decay, those wanting to stay ahead in eCommerce are at risk of fraudulent activity, decreased effectiveness in marketing, and too expensive costs in misdeliveries. Not to mention the progressive gathering of incorrect insight on customers which could negatively impact further relations with their customers, which we know leads to poor customer communication resulting in reduced revenue.

An additional point to add is the increased usage of mobile devices being used to shop online nowadays. We found that 60 to 70 per cent of cart abandonment happens due to an over-complicated lengthy checkout process. Having an address autocomplete tool in place can fix this problem to better the UX and check-out experience on mobile and ensure customers increase the likelihood of mistyping their contact details which approximately 20 per cent of addresses entered online contain spelling errors, inaccurate postcodes and wrong street or house information.

We have a dedicated guide on What Address Autocomplete here and how it significantly improves the checkout experience.

Cleansing, standardising, and deduplicating data

The good news is that contact data can be easily fixed for e-retailers, incorrect names, addresses, email and phone numbers are as straightforward as sending your data through for an audit to get a clear picture of one’s data across all systems and the potential for it after it has been cleaned. Furthermore, putting data cleansing and address validation procedures in place will deliver data quality in both batches and as new data is collected in real-time and at the point of capture.

This will give retailers the edge in being able to avoid misdeliveries, poor logistics, and fraudulent activity and ensure superior targeting and communication activities are made.

Duplicate data is another common problem caused by customers leaving behind different sets of information from different touchpoints, and while this information is often gathered via different departments e.g. technical support & social media, can cause a lack of communication between the whole organisation and limit that single customer view. The implications can cause customers to see multiple send-outs to multiple messages; seeing them as loyal customers, new customers or another type of prospect which can cause confusion and impact the retailer’s brand image.

You can find out more about What is Data Deduplication here

Another point to consider is that being able to unlock that 360-degree view of a customer throughout all departments will yield a great competitive advantage by having better analytics and being able to further segment and communicate with your customers more effectively leading to better retention.

The answer to making this possible is the deployment of an advanced fuzzy matching tool. Made to match and deduplicate data it gives the ability to identify, merge/purge and spot difficult deduplicate records to help unlock those valuable golden customer records.

Identity Verification

The final component is data verification. Taking into account the rising use of online transactions from eCommerce the rise of fraudulent activity, data breaches and persons posing as legitimate consumers are coming more common within the retail sector. Largely because of the growth of operations in the digital space.

As being regarded more toward the financial service sector, we see electronic identity verification to be a vital entity for retailers.

Implementing processes to match a person’s name to a physical address, telephone, email or even IP location can ensure security and make sure a customer is who they say they are, ideally in real-time. The best approach for maximising the ‘know your customer aspect is to implement processes to obtain and access global data sets that contain billions of records from trusted country-specific reference sources, like government agencies, credit agencies, utility companies and international PEP and sanction checks

You can find out more about what is a PEP (politically exposed person) here.

With eCommerce proving to be a partial saviour during the pandemic, now is not the time for retailers to rest on their laurels. Those wanting to achieve growth and higher success in an ever-increasingly competitive market space need to see the importance of having clean, verified and up-to-date customer data. Taking steps to ensure they have the necessary tools in place to reassure this.

The small investment made for data quality will prove to maximise revenue during and post-pandemic not to say embracing the tools and procedures that cleanse data, standardise and verify on a global basis will most likely benefit in success driving higher potential and growth in commerce around the world during these challenging times.