I recently had the opportunity of attending this year’s National Retail Federation’s Big Show, and the name couldn’t be more fitting. I was amazed that aside from the sheer size of it–we’re talking all of the major names and innovative players in technology–the magnitude at which big ideas and big thinking were a part of this trade show.

In order to really find out, though, what’s on trend in terms of the challenges that today’s ecommerce marketers are facing, we co-hosted a dinner with the great Scott Silverman to hear straight from them what they’re hearing that is ubiquitous for the ecommerce market.

Here’s my recap and perspectives for how every ecommerce marketer can begin to approach these widespread market challenges.

Becoming a master of omnichannel data is a long-haul endeavor.

In many large ecommerce brands, the mastery of data is hard to achieve. With the sheer volume, amount of channels and lack of intuitive infrastructure, many are struggling with basic questions when it comes to their data. What data sources do they even have? Do they have behavioral data? Do they have transactional data? Do they have cross-channel historical data?

And then there is the second piece…what do they want to do with that data once they have it? This is the crux for most companies and marketers today. Even if they had access to all the ideal data points, they don’t know where to begin putting it to work in a revenue-generating way.

Perspective: The technology and infrastructure behind data is the first and the biggest step to making sense of the data you have, and how to action it. Ecommerce needs to take a critical look at the vendors they use, and try to move from legacy database structures towards flexible, native solutions that seamlessly connect marketing operations and data under one roof. When data and solutions are in one place, there is unlimited potential in what you can do to action it. Ensuring success requires creating a culture of data and learning where teams are empowered to use data-driven methods for better marketing.

They know their customers, but don’t know what steps to take to turn them into customers for life.

This struggle is something we see time and time again. Most sophisticated ecommerce marketers have a very good grasp of who their customers are and the types of repeat customers in their audience. But as an industry, ecommerce is still extremely acquisition-driven rather than retention-driven.

Luckily there are many more tools on the market today and conversations happening about how ecommerce needs think retention-first. We all know that acquiring a new customer can be 7 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, and most marketers know that engagement is that silver bullet to building life-long relationships. Though the question remains: Where to start?

Perspective: Personalization is central to solving the retention puzzle. The best way to cultivate long-term engagement is by knowing your customers on a new level, and delivering experiences that cater to their wants and needs on an individual basis. This means moving away from the batch-and-blast mentality, and using all that data from a flexible system to power personalized email, onsite experiences, recommendations and beyond. That transition will fuel significant lifts in key engagement KPIs like click rates, time onsite, purchase conversion, average order value, etc. Translation: revenue.

 –Ed Sullivan, VP of Business Development & Alliances