Retailers using customer data effectively are achieving cross and up sell rates over 140% higher than those that are not, according to a customer relationship management firm. And with personalisation becoming increasingly important to the retail sector, operators need to take advantage of ‘big data’ by empowering frontline employees to act on purchase history and tailoring offers to the consumer’s preferred channel in the omni-channel chain.

The assertions come from CRM solution provider Pitney Bowes Software, who claims many retailers do not make use of their data, or at best, randomly cross-sell at the point of sale with a low likelihood of the offer being relevant to the customer.

In a challenging economic climate with strong price competition, using data to provide a highly personalised customer experience is key to ensuring customer loyalty, says general manager of customer analytics and interaction at Pitney Bowes Software, Chris Lowther.

“With such fierce competition both domestically and internationally, the Australian retail industry must ensure it keeps up with the data revolution,” Lowther says. “If it doesn’t, companies risk missing valuable insights that would help them improve their customer experience.”

The organisation has released five tips for retailers looking to capitalise on big data. One of these is collecting information for the future. While some retailers might not be ready to act on a data strategy yet it is time for all to start preparing for a more personalised future.

The second is to empower employees. Data is not just for the marketing department, but can be used to help sales staff interact with customers on a daily basis and prevent them from making the same mistake more than once.

Thirdly, retailers should trace their customer’s purchase history, a data point many are already collecting. However, not only should they collect information about what is purchased, but they should also collect information about how it was purchased in order to improve customers experience and assist with cross selling.

Fourthly, the software provider argues that data should be used to win back opt-outs. In-store employees empowered with data to identify opt-outs can gather valuable information on why the customer opted out, and create new opportunities to reinitiate communication witht he shopper.

Finally retailers are advised to track where customers are shopping. If someone only ever shops online, then sending them a store voucher could be a waste of time and money and is likely to end up in the bin, the report argues.

Customer loyalty is all about personalisation, and personalisation is about having the right data and being able to make use of it, Lowther adds. “Knowing your customers well provides opportunities to tailor offers for them and avoid situations which might see the customer ignore offers completely. Retailers must get their data in order if they want to stay head of the game. It is not as daunting a task as it might seem, and the results are invariably very rewarding.”