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What is a CDP and why every retailer should have one

David Schripsema

By David Schripsema



A Customer Data Platform collects data, condensing it into a single customer profile that helps retailers predict ways to retain ideal target markets.

As your retail business scales and grows, you’ll likely need a CDP (Customer Data Platform). But how will you find the right solution that will minimize costs, maximize your time, and generate an overall higher ROI? We’ll tell you in this post.

What is a CDP? 

Since the global pandemic, both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retailers have shifted efforts significantly to keep up with new processes and customer demands. Yet, the customer journey is rarely linear and often requires customers to revisit various retail stores or online sites before conversions occur. Data points can feel random or confusing, making it hard for retailers to identify customer patterns and come up with solutions. 

To find loyal customers in a sea of indecisive users, retailers should look beyond the typical solutions like Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) and a Data Management Platform (DMP). A CDP is a tool that collects data from multiple systems and condenses it into a single customer profile that helps predict optimal next moves for retaining ideal target markets. It allows you to build more effective and efficient marketing campaigns, provide better customer support while increasing visibility into your customer’s behavior across numerous channels. According to HubSpot, this differs from CRM which “only tracks a customer’s intentional interactions with a company via manual entry,” and DMPs, which exclusively focus on anonymous entities including IP addresses and cookies. Utilizing catered client information from a comprehensive point of view allows you to build on your prospective business goals and align a vision that resonates with your target audience so that you can better serve them. 

Investing in a CDP allows you to find ways to better serve your customers, anticipate their needs, reward their loyalty, and ultimately build trust

CDPs increase your ability to serve your customer 

Customer loyalty is today’s competitive advantage. It’s less expensive to cultivate existing customers than to acquire new ones. But loyalty does have a price. It’s earned through trust. Investing in a CDP allows you to find ways to better serve your customers, anticipate their needs, reward their loyalty, and ultimately build trust, strengthening your relationship, and encouraging them to continue to shop with you and tell their friends about you. 

CDPs drive your business to greater success

A CDP provides business value by using Software Development Kits (SDKs), which incorporate online and offline sources from websites, email, app transactional purchase data, and browsing history, as well as data on demographics, behavior, events, product usage, and third-party interactions. The various site data that users interact with ranges from general quantitative data including email, phone numbers, and activity information to more specific, qualitative data such as motivations and attitudes through surveys and reviews. Data-driven decision-making directs a niche audience to your business, increases acquisition rates, results in more customer activity on your online platform or store, and contributes to meaningful conversions.

Having all this information at your fingertips in a structured fashion lets you do some really neat stuff. Real-time updates of your cohorts to see who is shopping which items — and what else they’re interested in. You get the ability to do 1:1 personalization of a landing page or Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA) so that the contribution of your social media team toward conversions isn’t lost when customers come back a week later to actually check out. Owning the data yourself means you’re not at the whims of Apple, Google, or Facebook to dictate how you can talk to your customers. Most importantly though, it ensures you’re able to provide exceptional service to your customers. And remember, it’s all about building customer loyalty. 

A CDP is your new MVP

A CDP has numerous benefits that will make you wonder why you hadn’t opted for it earlier. As your business scales and grows, you need a CDP. But how will you find the right solution that will minimize costs, maximize your time, and generate an overall higher ROI? There are a plethora of options on the market that we’d be happy to help you navigate. Your business needs and budget will dictate what works best for you—but we really like for most of our clients. That’s not to say the rest are bad by any stretch of the imagination! There are also enterprise solutions from Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, and many more should your needs exceed what smaller players have to offer and your budget allows for a much more sizable investment.

The sooner you implement a CDP, the sooner you’ll start seeing the rewards. While it may feel like a more advanced solution and certainly many long-standing enterprises still struggle to get it right!— we think it’s approachable by most businesses, and the long-term value of having a deep, rich data set that you own limits your exposure to risk as various third-party features and customer tracking methods come and go.

If you’d like to get started, we’d recommend Everyday Retail Blueprint, which  Assemble’shelps retailers identify their biggest technology opportunities, creating personalized, value-based goals and procedures that enable you to grow your business without interrupting current operations. This helps mitigate rising tech debt. From there, we’ll determine the right steps forward to adopting a CDP, to help your company achieve growth and success while enhancing customer experience and relationships today and in the future.

This article was written in collaboration with Kelsey Duffield.