Across the industry, leading names are investing heavily in the analytics behind the vast reams of customer data being produced in an effort to drive personal one-to-one conversations with their customers.

Across the industry, leading names are investing heavily in the analytics behind the vast reams of customer data being produced in an effort to drive personal one-to-one conversations with their customers.

Earlier this month Shop Direct became the latest big-data proponent to invest ‘significant’ cash in developing personalisation software as it optimises how it uses its data. The online retailer revealed it wants to both improve the way it uses its current crop of data and start using more unstructured data, such as data from social networks or the body of emails.

It’s this kind of mining of multiple data sources that’s occupying retailers’ time in the era of big data. But as more shopper touchpoints become available, the harder it is to track consumers’ journeys and link-up customer data to win loyalty through personalisation.

The feature ‘Tracking shopper journeys across the multichannel landscape’ asks how far retailers have come with collecting and analysing big data in order to reach the most informative and in-depth results possible. As more and more tools become available, Retail Week looks at the sophisticated methods for data analysis and finds out how the likes of Tesco and House of Fraser are measuring ROI.

We turn our attention to customer service in a multichannel world, asking if customers have the same customer service expectations when they buy online as they do in store? The feature reveals how leading retailers are fulfilling customer demand for a quality service, whatever the channel, by joining up the customer journey.

Just as important as channel integration, is the integration of different departments within an organisation and how closely teams can work together to ensure smooth multichannel operations to deliver optimum customer satisfaction. ‘Analysis: Harnessing digital talent in a multichannel era’ explores how multichannel growth is being accommodated by changing departments and responsibilities within retailers, and how filling new roles is enabling them to offer a linked-up customer experience.

The Entertainer is a retailer that’s doing just that (see Analysis: Stores at heart of the Entertainer’s multichannel model). The toy specialist is on a mission to ensure better customer service from every selling point by transforming its stores into mini warehouses that can better fulfil local demand. By placing stores at the centre of its multichannel plans, The Entertainer is able to offer customers faster and more affordable same-day delivery options, and access to store and warehouse inventory.

This is the future of multichannel retailing – retailers should take note or risk being left behind.