Major retailers are focusing on multi-channel, it’s now time to ensure the value of data as well, says IMGROUP

Major retailers are putting a multi-channel approach at the heart of their proposition and must now focus on gaining the most value from the data produced, according to Information Management Group (IMGROUP), a leading provider of information management strategies and services.

IMGROUP reviewed the most recent annual reports of top retailers and retail groups and found there is a strong focus on providing a compelling multi-channel experience for customers, but in many cases no explanation of the importance of the data produced to the organisation.

The review found there is a good deal of information around metrics, however these are often figures such as social media likes or customer satisfaction statistics, and the value of these for use in the business moving forwards remains unclear. It was also found retailers with loyalty schemes such as Homebase (Home Retail Group) focused more on customer behaviour data and how the business was using this to boost sales. This is a lead that should be taken by all retailers with the data they now have available to them (whether they run loyalty schemes or not).

The review suggests that Marks & Spencer, Dixons Retail and Home Retail Group are leading the way when it comes to improving the multi-channel experience and increasing levels of customer engagement across the business.

Martin Philpott, head of retail at IMGROUP, said: “It is great that major retailers are putting multi-channel at the heart of their proposition, but this approach also creates challenges in terms of the sheer volume of customer data produced and how to gain business value from it.

“The use of this data is not really a focus in many of the annual reports reviewed and, while this doesn’t necessarily mean that retailers are not considering how to gain value from this data, it does suggest that they are still wrestling with the best way to make it work for the business.

“Retailers must therefore focus on extracting the kind of insights from their data that can help them plot the right path for their business moving forwards whilst better targeting and building relationships with their customers.”

For the study IMGROUP reviewed annual reports of major retailers and retail groups for mentions of data usage within the business. These included John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Home Retail Group and Alliance Boots.