The Customer Intelligence Platform: Customer Data Platforms’ Older Sibling

By Shekar Raman, CEO and Founder, Birdzi

The grocery industry was in the middle of a long contemplation of change when the pandemic hit, and all the slow and steady plans for technology adoption were suddenly outpaced by the need to adapt to the new circumstance. As more customers resorted to digital interactions to plan and purchase their groceries, the lack of physical interaction in the store exposed the wide gap that retailers had in terms of customer intelligence. The dependency on digital interaction meant that retailers needed to better understand their customer’s digital footprints to address their unique needs.

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Of course, this is strategy is not new to digitally native brands and even several supermarkets that had invested in diligently harvesting purchase history to better understand customer behavior. Customer data platforms had previously served to support CRM solutions, but they were primarily powering up straight forward customer journeys and communications. 

To understand customer behavior, you must go beyond the surface and find insights and patterns that provide clues to the customer’s intent and allow you to proactively and intelligently engage the customer regardless of the touch point or channel of preference. Enter: the customer intelligence platform, or CIP.

Getting to the Heart of Customer Knowledge with a Customer Intelligence Platform (CIP)

Grocers need to understand the buying behavior of their customers to know who buys what, when, how and why. But this data means nothing if it is not redirected into clear insights that are used to drive decisions. That’s where a CIP stands above the CDP. A CIP is like the central brain of customer intelligence, it links and leverages the insights from across the entire organization to help grocery marketers better understand each customer’s behavior. Where CDPs are centered around data collection, CIPs focus is to leverage the data to derive actionable intelligence that surrounds it to ensure reliable insights into customers’ expectations and habits and enable executing against these insights.

By providing automated insights on behalf of individual customers, CIPs can help marketers simultaneously increase personalization while scaling overall growth. Other benefits include valuable customer knowledge that can lead to increased sales through enhanced marketing and operational efficiencies.

Powering Up True One-to-One Marketing

If CDP is the dictionary, the CIP is the story that told through the words, and each customer has their own story. Understanding this story helps with enhancing communications and promotions. Furthermore, the unfolding saga of a customer’s journey helps inform the retailer on the effectiveness of their promotions. Marketing ROI and metrics are often confined to the sidelines once a promotion period has passed, and long tail impacts of these campaigns are seldom looked at with any degree of scrutiny. A CIP allows the retailer to have a broader understanding of the journey and make adjustments on an individual basis to reach their objectives.

With a customer intelligence platform, data from across the organization is connected to a central hub where the information can be used to make operational decisions. What’s more, with a CIP, common customer metrics can be translated into one “language” across all departments to avoid potential disconnect in the way each department understands the customer.

For example, if a grocer knows when the most valued customers are in the store, store managers can prepare by having more associates available on those days to personalize the experience. Or they can create performance incentives for associates based on actual customer metrics like retention, customer lifetime values or engagement.

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Enhanced Personalization with Profitable Results

Customer Intelligence Platforms deliver insights that go beyond the typical customer profile. The platform allows for more than just a customer’s demographic attributes and basic purchase data, creating a profile based on extensive attributions across a variety of dimensions. The trick is to incentivize customers to identify themselves at checkout with discount codes or other loyalty perks.

Then, the CIP can analyze the data using sophisticated machine learning and AI models to predict things like a loyalty index, which indicates the likelihood of a customer moving towards being more loyal, or a churn index – translating into actionable insights. With this information, marketers can improve the customer experience by delivering relevant recommendations and optimizing the shopper journey for the target audience. With CIPs, personalization is more strategic and profitable.

Automatic and Unique Insights of the Consumer

Grocers are blessed with tremendous amounts of available data, but many don’t rely on it enough. Additionally, grocers tend to lean towards third-party data when first-party data made possible by CIPs is much more valuable. Every grocer has a unique type of shopper, so understanding them on a case-by-case basis is far stronger than a generalized definition of a consumer in the US, or even the specific region.

The insights delivered from a CIP are easy to access. Most platforms are quick to implement because they are extensible and accept data from other systems and software. This means the data the grocer already has can be easily added to the platform for quick analysis and strategic use.

What Are You Waiting For?

Grocers and other retailers often suffer from a disjointed organization due to a generalized view of the consumer. With a CIP, grocers can take signals from all departments to maximize efficiency and profitability, with the customer’s preferences and behaviors at the center, driving all decisions.

To stand out in an industry with the likes of Instacart and Amazon, grocery leaders need to look beyond the retail terms making headlines today like personalization, ecommerce, and traditional CDPs and explore the options that are leading the change.

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