The level of customer intelligence within premium retail

Back in February, we launched the Customer Intelligence Index in partnership with our friends at rais.

With such a high level of competition amongst brands to deliver the right experience for their customers, we developed the index to help retailers understand their levels of customer intelligence against their competitors across the following areas:

  • Data: The ability to capture, manage and manipulate multiple forms of data about their customers
  • Knowledge: The ability to use data combined with customer research to develop a deep level of insight and understanding about their customers, who they are and their needs and expectations from the brands they shop with
  • Business readiness: Their internal structure, skill and resource to use customer data, insight and knowledge to make impactful changes across the business

Since the launch, more than 75 retailers have completed the index which has yielded some interesting results.


As you can see from the above graph so far, we have discovered the following trends:

Knowledge: Behavioural

Most retailers believe they understand how their customers are behaving when they shop online – from the products and offers that work for them to the channels and touchpoints that they shop through. This means that they are able to use their analytics to assess what is currently delivering good results and adjust marketing accordingly. This is a very tactical level of customer knowledge.

Knowledge: Holistic & qualitative

Approximately, half of the retailers believe they have a good understanding of the types of people who buy their products, what is important to them and why they buy the products they sell.

The lowest level of customer knowledge was found to be in the area of advanced and predictive knowledge. This means that although retailers believe they understand how their customers are currently shopping with them, they don’t have a deep enough understanding of them to predict how they might shop with them in the future. This means that they don’t have a view of the lifetime value of their customers, they don’t feel confident in suggesting products to them and are not sure how much they should, therefore, be spending to acquire customers through specific channels.

This would suggest that much of the scoring around holistic customer insight is based on assumption rather than deep knowledge.

This is further supported by the fact that across the board, retailers scored themselves the lowest across all areas of customer data.

Data: Manipulation

This is the lowest scoring area of intelligence. This means that retailers believe they can capture data and in most cases store and manage it, but lack the ability to analyse it effectively to turn it into useful insight.

A similar story is seen within the area of business readiness. Whilst retailers are scoring themselves ‘average’ for strategic readiness and their in-house skills, they fare worst in their level of in-house process that enables them to use data and insight effectively within the business.

It’s only by internal change led from within the business will fix many of these lowest scoring areas. Overall there is a great deal of work across all areas of customer intelligence to be done across retail.

So how do different sizes of business compare against each other?

Graph 2

As one might expect, the larger retailers with a turnover of more than £50,000,000 have the highest levels of customer intelligence in all areas bar one – customer data capture. We suspect, they have such a complex and wide customer base that it is harder for them to ensure they are capturing all customer data effectively.

The size of the retailer with the lowest scores across the board is those with a turnover of between £1,000,000 and £5,000,000. These companies need to view a larger customer base, but due to size are limited by structure and resource on how to effectively capture and develop insight on those customers.

These are companies most likely to be in phases of high growth where the need to acquire customers is overriding the ability to understand them and ensure they are being delivered the right experience.

So what does the picture look like if we compare sectors within retail?


Currently, there is no real difference of note within the sectors bar the fact that the food and drink sector have some catching up to do.

This is likely to be because, compared to other sectors, food and drink retailers were late to take advantage of online opportunities as their customers still purchased in-store, so they still have a large pool of offline customers that they know little about. Their online and data teams are therefore smaller in comparison and they are less likely to be able to capture and manipulate data effectively. This presents a golden opportunity for the first in this sector to really grow their customer intelligence and deliver a relevant and personalised experience to their customers.

If you would like more information on any of our findings so far or need help improving the level of customer intelligence within your organisation please do contact us at Leapfrogg. You can see how you fare yourself and take The Customer Intelligence Index here.

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