Dynamics Matters Podcast: Ep 24 -
The secret to creating a personal retail experience

With special guest  Stacy Keen, Retail & Consumer Goods Lead at Microsoft

✔ How to get a customer's 360-degree view

✔ Why is it important to look at the retail experience?

Podcast summary: 

Multi-Channel Retailing

I want to talk about customers and the 360-degree view. That’s what we’re discussing today and in particular, the customer data platform, which is a fairly new thing. So I think for our listeners what would be great is if you could put it into some sort of context as to what that is.


Stacy Keen: 00:53

So best way to describe our customer data platform, in relation to retailers, they have some of the best data, from transactional, to behavioural to demographic data, they have point of sale data, they have e-commerce data and what they do have is all that data, but what they don’t have is the insight and really being able to generate that insight and actually do something with it. So that’s exactly what our customer data platform does. It’s a pre-built platform that enables them to ingest all of that amazing data that they’ve got and then deliver them some really fantastic insights.

Michael Lonnon: 01:31

That’s a problem with a lot of organisations, isn’t it, I find they’ve got tons of data in lots of different silos and repositories and it’s never particularly consistent and people can’t get a single view of it. How does the data platform work in terms of a guest connecting some of the size and the data points?

Stacy Keen: 01:56

What we’ve got, which is one of the biggest things that kind of when retailers look for a platform around a CDP they look for those pre-built models that help them to do things like what’s their risk of churn of their customers leaving them? Or what’s the average lifetime value of spending they can get from customers or what’s the next best product or service that they should be thinking about reaching out to their consumers about? So what our platform actually does is it takes all of those amazing insights and spits out these models or segmentations of use so they can then take that data and actually then do something with it and activate it through their marketing platform or through advertising, all those different kinds of areas that are really important to retailers.

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Michael Lonnon: 02:44

So how can people access the customer data platform?

Stacy Keen: 02:47

A lot of our customers have a data lake that could be with ashore, but that could also do be with AWS or with Google and that’s fundamentally where they’re kind of pumping all that data from all those different sources. Once they physically have all that data they can then ingest that into customer insights. One of the fantastic things with Microsoft is we’ve got lots – it might be hundreds and hundreds of pre-built connectors to all the big vendors out there. We partner with some of the world’s biggest vendors like SAP as an example and with those prebuilt connectors it allows a simple configuration to then be able to connect and bring that data in.

Michael Lonnon: 03:26

Okay, so this is all part of Microsoft’s plan as even if you’ve something like SAP or you’ve got an oracle database or something else, that you can still benefit from Microsoft tools like Dynamics 365 and parts of Dynamics 365 whilst still connecting the data.

Stacy Keen: 03:41

Absolutely, I think one of the things I do say I am a dynamic seller by heart but I think one of the nice things about this is that it is a standalone CDP that can be sat on any data lake, but the output of that data and those insights could be ingested back into Salesforce or Oracle or SAP or Power BI or Dynamics CRM and it doesn’t necessarily have to just be that you’re then ingesting that data back into a Microsoft platform. Most of our customers using this might use Adobe for their marketing activation site and mixing up CDP with us and marketing with Adobe. A really nice story that’s publicly available is boots Walgreens in the US who are using customer data platform CDP with us and marketing activation with Adobe.

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Michael Lonnon: 04:26

Why is it important to look at the retail experience but almost look at it from the point of view of the consumer on the other side of the counter?

Stacy Keen: 04:33

If we look at all that has happened over the last kind of 18 months, it’s a tale of two halves. There’s no point mentioning the Big C. It’s been undeniably challenging for everyone in lots of different ways. So some of the points that I was just looking at recently is almost 190,000 retail jobs have been lost in the last 18 months. You most retailers have relied on some sort of government scheme and funding and all the large retailers have snuck consumed all those smaller retailers that were struggling.

But on the flip side of that, we’ve really seen a lot of retailers showing a lot of resilience, adapting and really innovating at pace. Sales have been up remarkably with some of the big DIY stores. But then also a lot of those retailers are looking for new channels to engage with customers, 80% of retailers use the pandemic to really make well overdue changes. And from what I can tell really bounce back is more than underway to really either attract or retain some of those new customers and everyone is hiring at the moment. There is advertising everywhere, they cannot find anyone to replace them.

Michael Lonnon: 05:44

Is Microsoft’s approach, then are they looking at it from the consumers perspective.

Stacy Keen: 05:52

I think even before the pandemic, I for one was always shopping online, but even more so I think that people are shopping online, I definitely use all the social sites recommendations, and it’s a really common part of my journey to making sure that I’m getting the best value for my money or the best service for a particular retailer or doesn’t even have to just be retailer, what that does is all those things that a consumer has access to really gives consumers a platform and the ability to really be powerful in the decisions that they’re making. The biggest thing I think is that retailers have to think about the experiences they’re going to deliver and at what part of that journey, not just think about what channels they’re going to communicating with. It’s the experiences they’re going to deliver.

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Michael Lonnon: 06:33

I guess it’s because consumers are now buying across multiple channels, you talk about omni channel, it’s hard for a retailer to always be able to predict exactly where a consumer will buy something where the preferences, you’ve got to, make sure that any route to purchase through that retailer is a good experience and connected.

Stacy Keen: 06:51

Absolutely. I think once they’ve got all that insight then over to the activation side. So how do they really build out that customer journey, one of the new things that’s recently become available for Microsoft is our customer journey orchestration? This is really transforming that in-the-moment marketing and that journey with the end customer. If I think about kind of my own experience at the moment so I’m going through a big house renovation.

So if I pop into my local DIY store to go and pick up some paint at that given moment in time if they had messaged me that maybe you might need some filler or some paint brushes, and he’s 10% off and more than likely to pick that up because that’s on my journey and where I am at that given moment in time. Whereas I’m probably going to shop around a little bit, and find the best value for paint brushes. But yeah, so it’s really making sure that those moments matter when you’ve got access to that customer in your store online, wherever they might be.

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Michael Lonnon: 07:44

You mentioned that COVID has exasperated the drive to create a connected experience. In your opinion where do you think most retailers are in in creating that connection? Do you think more are now further ahead because of COVID or do you think some are still trying to catch up?

Stacy Keen: 08:03

I think there’s a mixture and it depends on where that retailer started out. You’ve got the likes of retailers that have started out in the cloud, and then only e-commerce platforms, whereas I guess the ones that have got the traditional bricks and mortar stores are the ones that are struggling to pick everything up as quickly as an online retailer. I would say it’s a mixture but we are seeing a lot more organisations looking to transform to get more insight and opportunity to improve experiences with customers.

Michael Lonnon: 08:35

What do you think is coming up then for Microsoft in helping retailers with this, like I mentioned commerce, as well as other tools, what are the approaches that they’re bringing through?

Stacy Keen: 08:43

We can really channel our own retailing experience because naturally, Microsoft is a retailer right?  We’ve got Xbox, we’ve got our Microsoft stores. Given everyone buying everything online at the moment, fraud has been a really big thing. It’s always been a problem. So how can we really help retailers with the fraudulent aspect of their customers' journey? E-commerce is one of the things that you’ve mentioned already, you know, customer insights, and customer journey orchestration.

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