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How commerce data can drive long-term e-commerce growth

April 22, 2022

Customer data is having a moment.

As the pandemic sent the last of the digital hold-outs careening towards e-commerce, companies suddenly had a new cohort of shoppers and a new problem to contend with — how to understand exactly who those customers were and how to retain them. This gave increasing significance to customer data, important insights such as when a customer was shopping, what device they were using, if they were abandoning their cart, and so on. As a result, the past year has seen a growing number of companies adopting customer data platforms (CDPs) to unify and make sense of this data, a critical first step in building more lasting digital relationships with customers new and old.

Yet with all the focus on customer data, it seems another critical piece of the data puzzle has gotten lost in the shuffle — product data. And more importantly, what those two sources of data can achieve together.

After all, customer data gives you the ‘who,’ but it’s product data that gives you the ‘what’. Combined, they can help a brand take customers all the way from inspiration to engagement to conversion, and then into lasting loyalty. Together, customer and product data become commerce data — data that not only builds customer relationships but also drives business results.

What is commerce data?

Say you’re shopping for a gown for an upcoming black-tie event. You’ve input your size, preferred length, colors, and style. Because the brand you’re shopping with is applying their product data to your search, they’re able to find the dresses that match that criteria. As the brand combines your preferences (customer data) with their knowledge of the inventory (product data), you’re presented with the dresses that are both in stock and available in your preferred criteria.

In this instance, without the two types of data working in tandem, knowing either a shopper’s dress size or the availability of certain dresses only gets a brand so far. In fact, the separation of these two data sources often leads to disconnected customer journeys, which you’ve likely been a victim of if you’ve ever clicked on a targeted ad for a product only to see it’s out of stock in your size once you get to the website. For the dress shopper, they may have been shown cocktail dresses but no gowns, gowns that weren’t available in their size, or gowns in the wrong color. That is a wildly frustrating experience for the customer, one that keeps a brand from building the loyalty that can drive sustainable e-commerce growth.

When working as one, though, customer and product data make shopping seamless, personalized, and even enjoyable. In combining the two most critical pieces of the shopping journey, commerce data can usher in the next evolution of e-commerce, an era of real growth.

Going beyond brand loyalty

And that growth is a key point. Often, brands consider the immediate benefits data can offer, but commerce data allows you to consider the longer customer journey ahead. It can provide meaningful insights into future needs, allowing you to put the right product in front of the right customer at the right time, even if that right time is two months or three years from now.

Consider a shopper who buys a pair of sneakers specifically designed for runners. It stands to reason that they’ll be using these shoes often, which can be confirmed when that same customer makes a second purchase for a similar pair of shoes a year later. Assuming you’re a brand that has many similar customers, this can now be built into a dedicated segment — a group of customers who you know fall into the ‘runner’ category and will likely be looking to buy a new pair of sneakers every year or so. Now, you can plan ahead, automating annual marketing outreach that showcases the best of your new sneaker assortment. The customer feels understood as a runner, and you build a relationship that lasts well into the future.

A look into the nuanced consumer

Conversations about data may feel ever-present and over-discussed across industries, but it’s important to realize why they’re not going anywhere. Total e-commerce spending is poised to surpass $7 trillion by 2025, and that means understanding the digital consumer will only grow more critical for a brand’s lasting success.

The key to that understanding lies in looking outside just the consumer, in considering not only who they are, but also what they’re buying and even why they’re buying it. This is only made possible through commerce data — the supercharged combination of customer and product data, put into seamless action across digital channels. Without both, you’re left choosing between an out of stock dress or one in the wrong color. Whether you’re thinking as a consumer or a brand, you should know a better solution is out there. Now’s the time for brands to discover it.


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