Accurate master data management for relevant product suggestions
Given the rise of the seamless shopping experience, customers expect merchants to be on point with their product recommendations. During the holiday season, that insight could be a valuable tool that helps merchants promote specific products, or customize promotional campaigns designed to get customers into stores.
At the same time, data can be retailers’ own worst enemy. With people coming to expect more pertinent product suggestions from sellers, inaccurate data and outdated customer profiles can be highly detrimental to selling products or services. If people receive recommendations for items they already purchased or for goods they have no interest in, it makes the merchant look like it does not actually know its customers very well, and may devalue future recommendations. Additionally, if retailers guess wrong, that also means they are not promoting items that could result in purchases.
In fact, one recent study conducted by OrderDynamics found nearly three-quarters of online merchants miss out on sales by promoting irrelevant products to shoppers. Here are some common examples of how data can be misused when it comes to product recommendations:
1. Retailers do not see the whole picture
Multichannel Merchant was quick to note that many sellers fail to use all the information at their disposal when crafting product suggestions. For instance, a male apparel shopper may be recommended female clothing or someone shopping in the pets category may be offered dog food even though he or she owns a fish.
Mismatches such as this often happen when merchants are working with incomplete data, and is particularly problematic for sellers operating across a variety of channels. Being able to identify the same shopper across multiple selling avenues is critical to gaining a better picture of a person’s interests, and is an important part of offering relevant product recommendations.
2. Retailers are working with outdated information
Data has a shelf life, much like any other product. What is relevant today may not be tomorrow. Someone looking at baby clothes this month may be looking for toddler clothes and accessories one year from now as his or her child grows. This can lead to some irrelevant suggestions from merchants, who continually offer that customer baby products.
Retailers need to be able to refresh customer profiles regularly. This helps them ensure their data is clean and accurate and allows sellers to make better product recommendations. Of course, having accurate, updated customer profiles is vital to other areas as well, including customer services, which makes this even more important to retail success in the long haul.
3. Too many or not enough recommendations
Recommendations are not silver bullets. Merchants cannot just show one recommendation and expect customers to make purchases. Instead, they should act as reminders that are peppered into the shopping experience.
Unfortunately, many retailers do not make effective use of product recommendations – they either go too overboard or do not make them enough. As the Order Dynamics study noted, as many as 33 percent of retailers never follow up on notable consumer behaviors, which may result in lost sales.
At the end of the day, product recommendations can be huge revenue drivers for merchants, but they need to use them correctly. This all starts with accurate master data management, which will help sellers reach the right customers with the right offer at the right time.