NEW YORK: Cracking "the shopper genome" can lead to revenue increases of up to 20% for online retailers, according to consulting firm McKinsey.

Gadi Benmark, a senior expert in McKinsey's New York office, and Maher Masri, a principal in the San Francisco office, described how ecommerce firms tend to connect shoppers with a product's affinity like designer style but ignore emotional connection points.

Or they might deliver a poor customer experience by using separate channels and teams. "That's like scientists decoding one set of chromosomes while ignoring all others," they said.

But if they can develop a coherent and comprehensive profile of their digital customers – "mapping their DNA" to continue the analogy – and effectively engage them across all the main digital touchpoints, they stand to achieve revenue increases of between 10% and 20%, the authors claimed.

As well as the basics of demographics, preferences and needs, that means putting in the effort to capture behavioural pathways and attitudes at each stage of a purchase journey, understanding how they prefer to interact with a brand, gathering product affinity details and how they respond to various offers.

In addition, marketers need to be aware of significant episodes in a customer's life, such as having a child, getting a new job or moving house, and of behaviour during seasonal events such as at Christmas or on vacation.

"Pulling these insights together to crack the shopper genome is both a technology and people challenge," according to the authors, requiring "data assembly and data-driven action".

They suggested that companies also need to address internal organisational issues by creating teams that "own" a customer segment across the full journey and which can ensure that all customer communications are orchestrated, harmonised, and synchronised across every touchpoint.

"Any comprehensive customer-engagement program needs to start with a clear vision of what a complete digital experience looks like," they stated.

"Making that a reality requires cracking the shopper genome – and building the technology and organisational capabilities that deliver on the customer's increasingly high expectations."

Data sourced from McKinsey; additional content by Warc staff