It feels almost odd talking about customer insights being central to a modern-day retailer.

It feels almost odd talking about customer insights being central to a modern-day retailer.

It should by now be taken as given that, in today’s multichannel market, every retail operation needs to have a clear sense of who its customers are and what is directly relevant to them - a sense increasingly driven by technology and data.

Central to this is the careful collection and analysis of customer data, often facilitated by loyalty programmes, from which are derived insights that build lasting one-to-one customer relationships and, ultimately, drive profitability.

Retailers that ignore this pivotal shift in today’s retail economy, and continue to rely on poorly-targeted mass-marketing and discounting are operating on borrowed time.

New technologies are rapidly expanding the routes to engage with consumers, which means classic loyalty programmes must also evolve to incorporate the latest consumer interactions, connecting the ‘data dots’ between different customer touchpoints in order to better understand behaviour. Today’s retailers must identify not only transactions through the swipe of a card, but customer interactions across every touchpoint and platform they own.

Where this leads us is that, whatever new tools are developed to generate insight, there needs to be a realisation that customer insight and loyalty should be moved not just to the heart of any retailer’s marketing strategy, but to the heart of its corporate strategy. Only by putting customer relationships at the heart of their operations will retailers build and sustain loyalty and advocacy.

  • David Johnston, President and Chief Executive of Aimia in Europe and the Middle East