Link to AdExchanger 

The evolution of commerce has made data the new “MVP” of retail marketing.

A common theme at this week’s eTail East conference in Philadelphia, a gathering of 1,150 retail minds, was delivering personalized offers at scale. To do so, marketers are looking for ways to harness data across a range of sources ranging from loyalty marketing programs to in-store transaction histories and image data.

Kobie Fuller, a principal at VC firm Accel Partners who most recently served as CMO for ecommerce companyREVOLVE Clothing, was responsible for instating analytics and automation for the brand. Using digital marketing solution Monetate’s Merchandiser platform to deploy variables in visual site search and product recommendations, REVOLVE increased its average order value by about 7%.

“REVOLVE is really big on personalization,” Fuller said. “We wanted to give customers the ability to log in to different portions of the site and have that experience curated based on the data we captured on users,” with recommendations carrying over to personalized emails. MyRevolve, which Fuller described as an “eBay-like marketplace,” was built to mirror an Instagram-meets-online-selling marketplace.

“It helped us deliver the right product to the right customer,” Fuller noted, since the brand could see what users were sharing in image feeds even if they were not necessarily paid transactions.

REVOLVE Clothing is just one example of a retailer capitalizing on consumer data to provide targeted experiences. Digital is “a critical and rapidly growing part” of CVS Caremark’s business, according to its SVP and chief digital officer, Brian Tilzer.

Using data, CVS is looking to “test and learn and iterate” on successes to create an integrated experience between CVS’s mobile apps, which now account for 37% of digital prescription refills, and in-store marketing. CVS is in an interesting predicament because its first focus is its 7,500 pharmacies. In-store retail is only an extension of its pharmacy services, and represents more of a “convenience” factor.

To bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar and digital prescriptions, CVS’s Drug Interactions app lets consumers scan barcodes in-store to see what side effects, if any, their drug purchases could have. Mobile, then, is a huge area of focus for the brand in terms of targeted placements. And privacy necessarily follows: CVS has hired a chief privacy officer and remains “very focused and deliberate about living up to opt-in standards.”

“We don’t know yet all of the communications [strategies] that will be meaningful to our customers,” Tilzer added, but “the critical enabler will be investing in Web services, digital analytics as well as the human capacity to support” data initiatives.

Matt Spiegel, SVP and GM, Americas, at programmatic media-buying platformMediaMath, offered up digital ad tech’s view on data in bettering the omnichannel retail experience. He brought up the point that data, in and of itself, does not accomplish anything.

“One of the things I say to marketers when they ask me what data-management platform [DMP] they should choose is, ‘What are your marketing objectives and goals?’" Spiegel said. "This is still about marketing and about leveraging technology as that great enabler” to leverage data.

Retailers are increasingly looking for ways to connect first-party customer data with online strategies. For instance, MediaMath has worked with a retailer with a “sizable shopper loyalty program" to onboard offline and online data through partners like Datalogix to create more sophisticated segmentation around customer profiles to put toward future prospecting.

Another pain point for retailers is understanding the path to conversion. “Beyond the Facebook Ad Exchange [FBX], email and search impressions, it’s, ‘How do you actually activate that data and make decisions based on attributed conversions and not just last-click?’” Spiegel said. Partner platforms like Convertro and Visual IQ “help you understand the fractional value of your conversion.”

Citing the need to move beyond standalone retargeting, which doesn’t drive long-term results, he said retailers “need better visibility into media buys, pricing, frequency, etc. … If you aren’t building a story and a history on your customers, how and what they buy, and you’re not using that in outbound marketing, you will be at a disadvantage.”