Understanding the customer journey has always been paramount for marketers—especially in the retail industry—and the ability to assign attribution is becoming more fine-tuned. At the same time, though, consumers are interacting with more channels than ever.
According to a June 2018 report from customer analytics platform Kitewheel, the number of customer interactions climbs each year. Interactions for all industries across its platforms more than tripled from 2014 to 2017—surpassing 3 billion—and retail specifically grew 93% between 2016 and 2017. The highest retail channel growth rates between 2016 and 2017 were ad tech (350%) and in-store (116%).
Retail relies on one of the most diverse blends of channels compared with other industries. Websites, where conversions happen, are the biggest source of interactions, followed by email, a tool for re-engagement and retention.
Interactions using social media and mobile phones shrunk 58% and 50%, respectively. One takeaway from this data is that marketers are shifting from channels like social, with return on investment (ROI) that's hard to measure, to owned channels because they are richer sources of data that can ideally be used to create better customer experiences.
Since the customer has always been central to retail, that industry is further along in measuring the customer journey than others, according to the study. Telecom, travel and finance are still starting and piloting programs, while 37% of retailers are actively rolling them out and 21% have moved on to scaling them.
Rolf Olsen, chief data officer at advertising agency Mindshare North America, explained in an eMarketer interview why it's important to have measurable customer experience metrics. "The role of marketing is often to drive people somewhere. 'I want you to be aware of my brand,' or 'I want you to go to my store.' Typically, these things are ignored from the attribution modeling exercise, but they’re important. If someone goes to a store and the staff is rude or the product is displayed weirdly, it will diminish your ability to convert that consumer into a sale," he said.