The Rise Of The Modern Marketer – Interview with Maneesh Mittal, Head – eCommerce and Big Data, Croma

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Video interview series of CXO’s highlighting best practices and trends in the use of technology for marketing.

Maneesh Mittal

Head – eCommerce and Big Data

Croma

Use of customer analytics in driving better marketing plan

The one big change that we have made in Croma over the last year has been how we look at our customer. We started with all the traditional means. We have been through a fairly extensive round of understanding of our customer through qualitative research. But we have followed that up now with very, very real-time understanding of what our customer is doing with us, whether it is in our stores in the form of exit surveys that happen literally on a daily and on a weekly basis, and an understanding of what the customer is preferring, why he walks into our stores over other stores, what are the sources of information that he gets before walking into the store, what are his decision making points and so on and so forth. On to the digital world where we analyse every single data that we get from our customers and therefore try and understand even better what it is that is driving the customers towards the kind of behaviour that we are seeing now. Overall, a combination of this entire set of offline and digital data is what has helped us get a much better insight of what our customer expects from us, what drives his behaviour and therefore, has allowed us to reposition ourselves for the customer the way the customer will expect. And that is something has given us significant impact even from the outcomes that we get from the customer. Our entire marketing plan is built around this much-better understanding of the customer that we have derived.

Role of technology from customer and organisation point of view

Technology is something that has changed very drastically over the last few years. Croma, when it started out in 2007, was actually ahead of the curve from a technological perspective already as a retailer. But then it was an inward looking perspective. It was how we made our operations more efficient from a perspective of being able to deliver better to the customer. Today, technology is all about how the customer sees the organisation. Digital discovery is the only part that most customers ever experience. And therefore, how we get seen in the digital world has been a significant influence on Croma as a retailer in the entire market. Given that more than half of our customers walk into our stores after already having researched on the Croma website, the role of technology for us is to make sure that the customer has an absolutely seamless experience across all the channels that we operate in, whether it is the digital channels or Croma.com or any of the stores that the customer walks in and does not really see the technology that is enabling the choices that he is making – through the appropriate assortment mix, the right pricing for the customer, the right kind of experience that we provide for the customer the as well as the smooth seamless checkout from the store. From an organisation perspective, technology is again getting more and more ubiquitous. Operation efficiency continues to be the key driver. But the focus is now increasingly become on seeing how we can serve our customers better, being customer-obsessed and making sure the technology serves that one purpose of being evident, being there but not really being in the way as much as it is enabling customer outcomes as well as organisation outcomes.

Incorporate voice of customer into a real-time response

Social media has changed how the reputation of an organisation can be made or broken. We listen very avidly to what is happening in the social media world, to what the customer sentiment out there is and we try and incorporate that into the big picture thinking that we undertake. This is in addition to, of course, understanding any customer complaints and customer accolades, and making sure that those particular issues or problems or the good things that we hear about ourselves are taken up appropriately. But very often, the social media keeps telling us about things that help us change the way we look at ourselves – for instance, figuring new directions that we might want to take just on the basis that a large number of customers may start talking about the same thing. And that gives us insight into newer features that we can incorporate. There are few case points that we are already working on, where inputs from customers on social media has helped us realize about updating our website for instance and that’s something we are incorporating into our front end as we speak.

Biggest challenge with respect to Marketing Data and Analytics

The biggest challenge with respecting to marketing data and analytics is which data point to choose. There’s so much data out there, so much data from the offline world, and so much more data from the online world. There’s so much that can be read into any of that data and analysis into all that data can keep going on forever. Figuring out which of the data is the most relevant and which can have the most impact and picking the right insights to take action are really the biggest challenges that we face. Trying to use tools that help us prioritise, get better at understanding the relevance of all the insights that we generate from this data means a long journey and we are just beginning.

On Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty comes from one single thing – customer experience. Customer experience is however a long journey. It gets built on many pillars and only when these pillars come together cohesively, you actually customer loyalty. At Croma, we can proudly say that nearly half of our customers at any given month are repeat customers. This clearly shows that there is a great amount of loyalty for the Croma brand. However, in today’s world of relatively few loyalties, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain that standard of customer loyalty. And to maintain that standard of customer loyalty, the pillars that we work on include pricing, being a key element of our customer’s decision-making process today but even more importantly, having the right product for our customer by having the right assortment mix which can only happen when we understand our customer better than anybody else. Having the pricing in the assortment is a good starting point. Then we need to ensure that we are visible to the customer and participating in his purchase journey at the place that he wants us to be, in the manner that he wants to see us. If his customer journey today starts in the online world, he needs to find us online. He needs to know that we have the right products online. He needs to understand the differences that we bring to him in the online world so that he has a reason to walk into our store where he gets, of course, an experience par excellence in terms of the interaction of the store staff, in terms of the layout of the stores themselves, the ambience that we create for him, in terms of experience that he may have at every touch point within the store including at the check-out and including after he has made that purchase knowing that he can always come back to Croma if he has a problem with the product and that Croma will always be there to support him in the future.

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