Achieving a single customer view is supposedly the ultimate goal for digital marketers, but is it really feasible?

Building this complete, joined-up view of the customer is a costly and time-consuming project, and while some have made decent progress, others still have a mountain to climb.

A new report published today by Econsultancy and Innometrics investigates the current landscape for businesses seeking to obtain that single customer view, and looks at how brands are approaching the gap between digital and retail, among other challenges. 

The Single Customer View report features in-depth opinions from senior-level executives working within ecommerce, online and marketing departments, from companies including Mothercare, Camelot, myHermes, EE, Clarins, Rank, Occam and Seren.

Here’s a brief summary of three topics investigated in the report...

The gap between digital and retail

For multichannel retailers, the most obvious barrier to obtaining a single customer view is the ability to track across retail and digital platforms. 

In the UK ecommerce accounts for around 13% of overall sales, meaning there’s still 87% of customer purchase data that brands and retailers need to capture.

According to Nick Bonney, Head of Insight at Camelot:

That’s the bit where we need to be realistic. Unless it’s a log-able transaction, you will never see it. 

The view that you’ve got one single comprehensive view of all the interactions a customer is having with your brand is unrealistic in a multichannel environment.

The battle against legacy systems and big data

Modern marketing technologies can potentially give marketers a single customer view, if implemented correctly.

However the reality is that many companies are still using old software and don’t have the resources to rebuild their digital marketing platforms from scratch.

Often there is a lack of understanding and knowledge around these systems, and data can be very fragmented. 

Many of the businesses interviewed for this report admitted to legacy systems being their biggest obstacle to creating an SCV.

Creating a contextually rich view of the customer

In order to secure the maximum benefit from any investment in SCV, businesses have to be focused on putting the customer first.

But a complete SCV isn’t essential in order to create personalised customer experiences. It can be achieved using a combination of other digital tactics, such as audience profiling, audience segmentation and propensity modelling.

For those struggling to obtain buy-in and investment for a SCV, these might be sensible and effective alternatives.

There is a key difference between SCVs and customer profiles. The SCV can only show you past activities, but profiles include data such as social information to show intention. 

This provides marketers with the ability to anticipate and predict customer behaviour.

For a more in-depth view, download the full report: Single Customer View - Myth or Reality?

David Moth

Published 12 November, 2014 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

We believe there is real value in a single customer view. An area we're working on is giving customers a single view of their interactions with schuh. We want to provide an improved customer experience where we show all their purchases in their online account area, including where they have purchased in-store (and given us an email address), which will help them if they wish to return products, for example.

almost 4 years ago


Derek Eccleston

Whilst it may be challenging to capture a true, multichannel, customer view there is great value in building a more achievable Single Digital Customer View (SDCV) which pulls together what we know from customer interactions through digital channels. UK ecommerce may only account for 13% of sales though so asking customers for feedback on their behaviours via other channels is needed to broaden what we know. This can be achieved by opting survey respondents into a panel and following up with them about what else they have done with the brand.

almost 4 years ago

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