The Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Kapner recently wrote, “The strength of the American consumer as a driving force behind the economy was on display during the annual Black Friday ritual, as shoppers headed to malls…looking for deals.” Despite the soaring popularity of eCommerce many shoppers still treasure the traditional retail experience, particularly for holiday-related purchases.

There are a variety of reasons behind this preference for brick-and-mortar stores, and a more intimate, engaging customer experience is chief among them. The ability to interact with a store associate, engage with a product, ask questions, etc. can be beneficial, especially when shopping for a gift. And from the retailers’ perspective, the in-person setting provides an opportunity to upsell shoppers on various items and recommend additional purchases based on the interaction.

Data’s vital role in holiday shopping

In the multichannel retail environment, data plays a vital role in allowing store associates to deliver on the above and other objectives. According to a piece in Chain Store Age, “Retailers must have a seamless flow of data across core systems from customer to inventory—and they must make that information actionable for employees.”

The Apple stores are often heralded as a great example of a modern brick-and-mortar store and for good reason. They connect all customer touchpoints—desktop, mobile, in-store—and empower employees with not only this data but also with the ability to easily obtain additional details and product information in the context of the customer interaction. Apple was also among the first brands to offer customers the ability to check out on the store floor—something many retailers now tout as a way to beat the long lines associated with Black Friday and other peak holiday shopping times.

Connected data drives connected experiences, and those experiences can be a critical differentiator for traditional retailers to operate more competitively—this holiday season and throughout the year.