Analyzing online and offline data, together and separately

Seattle—Retailers spoke of the challenges that marketing for both online and offline stores can pose when a company is given one marketing budget for both channels at yesterday's Summit.

The afternoon session, titled "Attributing Success: Incremental Gains through Applying Cross-Channel Analyses," focused largely on how different ways of looking at collected data can affect how a company attributes success to different retail channels.

David Abbott, senior director, online marketing, The Home Depot, was quick to jump in and say that his company carefully analyzes data from online sales but, while they are important, they still only account for about 4 percent of revenue.

Milton Pappas, president, e-commerce, The Jones Group, talked about how his company has a different challenge when it comes to measuring sales and data because many of the company's brands—which include names such as Ann Taylor and Nine West—are also sold at other retail stores or partner sites. In other words, the brand often serves as a wholesaler. "We have a great collaborative partnership to drive all around retail sales as opposed to just store or online," he said.

And while The Jones Group, like the other companies on the panel, look to Google for analytics, Pappas stressed that this method only gives a holistic view of the brand. There still has to exist close communication with the individual stores to discuss how to drive sales.

Eric Gohs, director, digital marketing and loyalty, Express, chimed in with a warning for the room full of retailers. "We have too much data than we know what to do with," he said. "If you don't slice data the right way you can influence the results." As an example, he cited that data collected across devices can track customers going to the website and leaving their carts empty without making a transaction.

"But if you're only looking at what's happening online, you only see the negative," said Gohs. "You see the negative turn positive when you then look at in-store because maybe that research turned into a transaction."

See all FierceRetail's 2014 coverage here.

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