June 21, 2013, 4:33 PM

Inaccurate customer data hinders retailers’ daily operations

41% of retailers say they have trouble maintaining data, survey says.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

Retailers on average estimate that 28% of their customer data is not accurate, and 41% say they have difficulties maintaining the data accuracy needed to run their daily operations, according to a survey by data quality software provider Experian QAS.

Experian in March surveyed 300 managers and executives across multiple industries, including about 75 retail employees, about their data quality, strategy and use.

While not all retailers struggle with customer data, most say they aren’t perfect—98% of retail respondents say they think the data they have on file about their customers contains at least some inaccuracies. Such data can include e-mail addresses, past purchases, and customer profiles built using customer behavior on e-commerce sites, such as what the shopper has placed in her basket, searched for or clicked on.

“Unfortunately, poor data quality is widespread, meaning that companies are acting on misinformation and hurting daily operations,” says Thomas Schutz, senior vice president, general manager of Experian QAS. “To operate effectively across channels, organizations need to have accurate customer data.”


The survey also revealed that:

  • 93% of retailers say customer profiling is important to their business strategy.
  • 94% of retailers have an analytics department. The primary tasks for those departments are to improve customer loyalty programs, build individual customer profiles and to target customers with specific offers.
  • 98% of retailers use analytics to monitor live customer behavior on e-commerce sites and react immediately with marketing or merchandising updates.
  • 69% of retailers say they plan to invest in improving the quality of their customer data in the next 12 months.
  • 57% of retailers say the I.T. department will determine the budget needed for data quality projects.
  • 93% of retailers use customer data from external sources to improve customer profiles, e-mail marketing and advertising.


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