What is “Customer Context” and why you need to know…

Retailers who understand their customer at the most granular and intimate level will increase the relevance of interactions and improve customer retention and loyalty and increase sales. Do you really know your customers and can you deliver the experience they expect? Customer context is the answer.

Customer Context Defined

CustomerContextImageBRP defines customer context as “the interrelated factors of customer insights and environmental conditions that make the shopping experience relevant.”

With advances in technology (networks, WiFi, mobile, NFC, Beacons, etc.) retailers have the ability to access more customer information than ever before and in real-time. Retailers have the ability to know what a customer has in her closet, what she previously purchased, what she browsed on the Web site and abandoned in her online cart, when she is near your store and even exactly what she is browsing and where within the store.

In addition to customer insights, customer context considers environmental conditions such as current and forecasted weather, time of day, time of year, media (news), social media, traffic, holidays, events, and other conditions that impact a consumer’s purchase decision.

Delivering on Customer Context

Retailers must integrate the customer insight and environmental factors with real-time transactions and inventory data to enable and support real-time retail capabilities that leverage “customer context.”

To be successful, information must be instantly accessible to store associates. Without real-time data, information provided internally and externally is out-of-date and risks being inaccurate and out of context. Retailers must collect, analyze and respond, in real-time, to their customer’s interactions across all touch points.

With real-time customer context, sales associates can offer customer intimacy and enhanced services like guided selling and personalized offers that are relevant to the individual customer.

Real-time Retail is a Top Priority

According to the 2015 POS Benchmarking Survey, nearly 50% of the retailers indicated that real-time retail was one of their top three priorities.

BRP Special Report COVER - Real-time RetailAs reported in BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Real-time Retail – The New Retail Imperative, retailers are focused on leveraging “customer context” to provide customers enhanced experiences:

  • 280% more retailers plan to provide suggested selling based on a customer’s previous purchases within three years
  • 361% more retailers plan to offer promotions based on the customer’s geographic proximity within five years
  • 107% more retailers plan to have real-time inventory available at the POS within three years
  • 157% more retailers plan to implement real-time analytics within five years

Is your organization ready to leverage customer context?

As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this topic.  Please enter your comments and ideas below.


Ken Morris

Ken was CEO and President of LakeWest Group and founder of CFT Consulting and CFT Systems, a retail software company. Earlier in his career, he held retail information technology executive positions at Lord & Taylor, Filene’s (Macy’s), Talbots, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, and Sears. His experience is with strategy, selection development and deployment of retail management systems and processes.


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