Insight into purchasing patterns across all channels is critical in order to maximize customer value, says Rob Jennings, ecommerce director at the nursery goods company.
We are faced with an entirely new challenge in terms of how we structure and maximize the use of our customer data. With over 60 retail stores, an online operation and wholesale outlets through the likes of Amazon and Tesco — plus mobile Internet opportunities and social media — our channels are growing rapidly along with our data volumes.
In the past, our approach was based on assumptions: we were having one conversation with all of our customers whether they were a few months’ pregnant or looking for a toddler car seat for their second child. It was clear that we needed to get a deeper understanding of our customers.
Working with data insight company Experian, we pulled together all of this disparate data into a central analytical tool, so now we can analyze, segment and track customer transactions through whichever channel they choose to use. We know what our customers are going to need and when, so there’s a defined path they’re going to follow, but this only offers a short window of opportunity. Therefore it’s vital that we have the ability to identify the key customer touchpoints, build an accurate picture of every customer and understand their purchasing behaviors and segment.
We can now pretty much map our entire product sale alongside a mother’s gestation period and all of the stages after the baby is born. We know what our average customer is going to need at a certain point in that journey, and so we pre-empt this by contacting them a week or so beforehand with a message, “Have you thought about buying this?”.
Some of the discoveries we have made from mining the data have been fascinating. For example, we have found that customers who opt in to marketing communications are worth 50% more than those who do not, and that those who let us know their child’s due date tend to spend around 130% more than those who have simply opted in. Women who buy maternity wear from us and supply their due date can spend anywhere up to 200% more — so we use this knowledge to inform our in-store promotions and incentivize staff, with much of this effort geared to drawing our customer in at the maternity-wear stage of her journey.
We have moved very quickly from storing simple transactional data to highly complex, multi-faceted information, and our storage need has grown by 1,000% over the past year. Big data is a critical challenge for us as we bring new channels into the mix, including social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, mobile, apps and tablet sales [20% of website visitors already access the Mamas & Papas site via mobile].
We’re not quite there yet, but if, say, someone shares their Facebook timeline with us, we can then access a huge amount of very relevant data. What we will never do is allow the proliferation of channels to make our customer experience too channel centric. Our biggest loyalty tool is making life simpler for customers, and my job is to let the data facilitate a warm, personal and easy experience for them, however they choose to shop with us.