Understanding Single-View Customer Identification Process

Who are you when you’re shopping online? What about in person? Brands and retailers would love to know, but it’s not up to the customer to declare themselves whenever they’re browsing the web or buying a few things in person. Since retailers can’t actually follow someone throughout their lives, data gets messy.

Over the course of our lives, we might move, get married, change our names and have kids, or even just change our email. Households merge or maybe split apart. All of this adds up to a splintered customer profile – and that’s where identity resolution comes in.

Identity resolution streamlines pieces of data that provide glimpses into who a customer is in order to paint a fuller picture of their entire household. These identifiers can be as straightforward as name, email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, zip code and tokenized credit card numbers. At the household level, if one customer visits Target twice a week, while their wife places weekly online orders, identity resolution will match that pair using those identifiers to get a better idea of what the entire family is consuming.

From there, retailers can figure out how much they should invest in that household, how valuable they are, and how they should treat similar customers in order to get the right pay off. The last thing you want as a retailer is to be treating a customer who’s spending hundreds of dollars per week in online order and in store visits as a customer who’s only spending $20 here and there in store.

All together, single-view customer identification is critical for retailers’ marketing strategies and targeting efforts. Here’s why it matters.

The Importance of Single-View

Without single-view customer identification, you can’t get the full picture of who your customer is. This means acquisition, retargeting, and who’s worth investing dollars in to bring back will be skewed and incomplete. That goes all the way down to product insights: if you don’t know who is buying what, you can’t make product-level data decisions.

This is especially important as Google sunsets third-party cookies. Customers who give their email addresses and opt-in with data are expecting even more from their interactions with brands and retailers after they’ve given that data.

What’s at Stake

Customers don’t have any obligation to declare themselves when they shop online. So when they do leave hints behind as to who their households are, retailers should be paying attention. Otherwise, you’re not seeing big swathes of sales flowing. Knowing what customers are spending, and who they are, is foundational for retailers to be competitive today.

Missing the complete picture of a customer’s identity means not just money left on the table, but money wasted. Think about a retargeting gaffe every customer has likely experienced at some point or another: They browse online for an item, then go buy it in-store. Later, they see the item targeted to them the next time they’re shopping online – but they already bought it. That’s money spent on a customer who has already made the purchase.

If you’re operating in more than one channel as a retailer today, single-view customer identification is a necessity to make any decisions using data. Without it, you’re just not getting the full picture.

Seth Hirsch