Retailers need data driven approach to generate repeat business as only 5% think their customers are loyal

London, 26 September 2017

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Despite spending billions each year on loyalty programs and initiatives, retailers are struggling to effectively use their data to differentiate the customer experience and retain sales. This is one of the findings from an EY survey of 130 C-suite-level retail executives from North America, Europe and Asia, that reveals the challenges retailers face in today’s disrupted environment.

While the majority of retail leaders surveyed (87%) said a loyalty strategy is critical to their business success, just 27% are confident that their current loyalty initiatives have a positive effect. Moreover, only 5% of retailers think that their customers are loyal.

Helen Merriott, UK&I EY Retail and Consumer Products Market Leader, says:

“The relationship with the consumer has become increasingly transactional. With consumer expectations changing at a rapid pace, retailers need to create loyalty that sticks. Few retailers are fully embedding loyalty across core operations and customer touch points. Companies need to meet customer expectations at every turn to see increased business success as a result of increased customer loyalty.”

Executives believe there is much work to be done with few having real confidence in their own capabilities to embrace new technologies that might unlock loyal customers. The survey found that just 19% of retailers are able to leverage their data and systems to understand individual customer needs; only 35% can capture real-time insights frequently; and a mere 30% have the ability to use technology to personalize the offer and experience for a customer every time.

Patrick Moriarty, EY Executive Director, Retail Customer Experience & Loyalty, says:

“Legacy methods of creating and maintaining brand loyalty are failing. Many retailers are capturing data, but struggling to generate and activate insights in ways that help them stay relevant. Driving personalized offers, capturing real-time insights, understanding individualized customer needs and maintaining their trust are all key for success.”

For further information about how retailers can foster better loyalty programs and engagement with customers:

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Notes to Editors

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About the survey

In March 2017, EY held a total of 130 telephone interviews with C-suite-level retail executives in North America (50), Western Europe (50) and Asia-Pacific (30). The interviews were held anonymously in the local language. The headline results are available to view on