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How to Create a Single View of the Customer

In an era of siloed data, how can retailers build a single view of the customer to better drive sales growth and revenue?

Single View of the Customer

Most retailers understand the power of having a single view of their customers. As more people turn to online retailers for their shopping needs, it becomes even more important to create an aggregated and unified customer view – one that includes behavior and personal data – to drive sales growth and revenue. 

How Valuable is a Single View of the Customer?

A single view of the customer provides retailers with unique insight into their customers’ digital footprint––whether that footprint contains information on a recent purchase or data on recent interactions with the brand. All of this data is valuable because it allows retailers to build a single view of their customers’ identity. This enables them to create effective and personalized retail sales and marketing campaigns which, in turn, further engages their customers. 

A single view of the customer is especially empowering for sales teams, who can use this framework to identify the products that a customer purchases, read the reviews they write, and explore some of the items they are browsing. This 360-degree view allows salespeople to create more targeted campaigns and suggest personalized products and services based on a customer’s identity and other relevant data. This boosts sales and also promotes customer satisfaction. 


Similarly, having a single view of the customer is also beneficial to marketing teams as well. For example, imagine a book retailer has a single view of Sarah and, after analyzing the data, notices that she tends to purchase science fiction books. The marketing team can then create effective campaigns that target Sarah with web advertisements and email marketing services that are tailored to her taste. 

The benefits to sales and marketing teams can extend to customer support teams, who can utilize the single view of the customer to provide customers with better services and experiences. With this unified view, customer support teams are able to better address any questions or issues that need to be resolved. This means that when Sarah calls the book retailer for the second time to ask about the status of her book shipment, for example, the customer support team is able to better address her grievances by looking at the shipment details, notes from the previous call, and more. 

A single view of the customer helps marketing, sales, and customer support teams create strategic campaigns. However, this approach is also profitable for retailers because it minimizes costs and ensures they are not financing ineffective tactics; rather, their team is pursuing data-driven campaigns and strategies that are supported by customer behavior and personal data. 

Further, building a single view of the customer is also beneficial for customers as well because it engages them and allows them to receive better, more personalized product suggestions, coupons and offers. That way, Sarah does not receive recommendations for business books. Instead, she receives recommendations for science fiction books, based on her purchase history and taste. In one study – which surveyed 1,000 people – 88% of customers cited that they are more likely to shop at a brand that provided personalized shopping experience, and 87% of customers stated that this personalized experience can increase their loyalty to a retail brand. 

What Challenges Do Retailers Face When Creating a Single View of the Customer?

Clearly, having a unified customer view is extremely valuable for both retailers and customers alike. However, establishing one is not always easy. Retailers deploy a number of both on-premise and cloud applications and, similarly, consumers use multiple channels and devices. This creates disparate sources of data and complicates efforts to integrate this data that can be used to create a single view of the customer. There are two challenges that retailers may face when they try to build a single view of their customers. 

The first challenge of creating a single view of the customer lies in ensuring the integration and communication of data from disparate sources. For example, a customer’s personal information from previous orders might be stored in a legacy system and their interactions on the retailer’s Facebook page is stored in a social media management platform. Unfortunately, legacy systems are often inflexible, outdated, and especially difficult to integrate with newer systems and applications. The retailer will not be able to create a single view of the customer because data-sharing between the two systems is challenging. 

The second challenge is the growing number of devices (computers, tablets, smartphones) and channels (in-store, phone-to-phone, online chats) that customers are using to interact with retailers. A customer often switches back and forth between these devices and channels throughout their customer journey. For example, they might complete a purchase online but request to pick up the items in-stores or they might not find their favorite color or size in-stores and opt to order online. These processes involve various applications that store valuable customer data. However, retailers that use multiple SaaS and cloud-based platforms with on-premise legacy systems often find integrating their data is more difficult and cannot create a  single view of the customer. 

What Solutions Are There to Establish a Single View of the Customer?

These are just a few of the challenges that retailers face when it comes to creating a single view of the customer. It is becoming increasingly difficult to integrate on-premise, SaaS, and cloud-based applications and systems. MuleSoft can help retailers enable a single customer view through Anypoint Platform™. Anypoint Platform is made up of resourceful components, including Mule as an ESB, CloudHub™ (iPaaS), DataWeave, and Anypoint Connectors. 

Mule as an ESB and CloudHub make it easier for retailers to enable a single view of the customer because they help integrate information across a variety of systems, applications and services. DataWeave, which is a data mapping tool, offers retailers a graphical interface where they can identify customers and eliminate duplicate customer profiles to ensure data integrity. Additionally, retailers can utilize MuleSoft’s Anypoint Connectors, which provide instant API connectivity to billing, marketing, CRM, and other retail applications, as well as legacy systems. 

One customer that effectively built a single view of the customer with MuleSoft is a top 4 UK retailer. This customer faced a fiercely competitive retail grocery market. They needed to compete aggressively and extend their business to the web. However, their customer and product data were stored in multiple databases, an IBM Unica marketing automation platform, and an Avaya call center platform. They needed to integrate these systems in order to create a single view of the customer in a CRM like Salesforce.

With CloudHub, this customer was able to create a single platform for application integration. And developing and deploying integrations on CloudHub took just 2 weeks. The customer was able to connect Salesforce to their on-premise call center platform and customer and product data stored in on-premise databases. This enabled the customer to create a framework for a single view of the customer, which supported multi-channel marketing.

Read further about how we helped this top 4 UK food retailer use CloudHub™ to develop a single view of their customers and learn more about how retailers can build richer relationships with their customers through integration solutions

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