Five things to know about ELT in ecommerce

  1. ETL supports data integration for ecommerce businesses, helping them better understand customers.

  2. Combined with machine learning, ETL can power marketing personalization and other marketing initiatives. 

  3. The ETL process goes hand-in-hand with data warehousing, which helps companies organize and manage all of their data.

  4. Some of the benefits of ETL include improved data quality, consistency, and regulatory compliance.

  5. Platforms like combine traditional ETL with reverse ETL and a very fast CDC platform to power ecommerce growth.

It’d be hard to find anyone who’d say that taking a data-driven approach to business decisions is not worthwhile. Yet, so many businesses aren’t doing it because, as simple as it may sound on paper, it takes a great deal of strategic planning to pull off.

One of the most crucial tools when it comes to accomplishing a data-driven decision-making process is known as ETL. If you’re not familiar with how ETL works, or why it is so functionally important for ecommerce data success, keep reading. 

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What is ETL?

ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load, which refers to the steps involved in the ETL process. The first step helps companies “extract” or pull data from various sources. Then, the data is transformed, like by re-ordering the columns of a spreadsheet so that it can be properly processed by its destination (e.g., a data warehouse), which it is then “loaded” into. 

In other words, the ETL process helps businesses make better use of their data by getting it from wherever it’s being stored or collected, preparing it for use, and then feeding it into the tools where it will be turned into visualizations and reports or used for purposes like marketing personalization. 

The ETL process is often referred to as data integration and is one of the leading solutions. With powerful ETL and reverse ETL capabilities, can help your business use its data more effectively and efficiently in every department, with pre-built APIs ensuring that your engineering team isn’t overwhelmed with the connection process. 

Benefits of ETL

Investing in data integration is a worthwhile process. After all, it will help your business sharpen its competitive edge and ensure that you aren’t relying on guesswork but that you’re making decisions based on actual customer behavior. 

From a big-picture standpoint, the benefits of ETL are best summarized as:

  • Improved data quality: The ETL process helps to consolidate data by enabling you to pull data from various sources and store it in a central repository. In doing so, you are able to ensure that your data meets strict compliance standards. 

  • More consistent data: By consolidating essential data, your business unlocks the ability to archive and search for information that can provide historical context, like when a customer paused their subscription or how often they’ve gifted subscriptions. 

  • Faster data consumption: Since the ETL process eliminates the need for manually transferring data or querying sources, it gives you the ability to put your data to work around the clock, which lays the foundation for business intelligence (BI) initiatives. 

Together, these three benefits begin to paint the picture of why ETL is critical for ecommerce success. So, with the basics out of the way, let’s dive into more specific use cases that explain how ETL helps support ecommerce businesses and why you should invest in a data integration solution. 

Use Cases for ETL in Ecommerce

Particularly within the ecommerce space, ETL has multiple use cases for supporting the growth of your business, but all of them sprout from ETL’s primary capabilities, which directly support data warehousing. ETL enables the collection, standardization, and transfer of data to various data warehouses, which in turn allows for the following activities to take place.

For starters, having data properly formatted and organized within data warehouses allows businesses to tap into complete and accurate data sets for practically any use case. This enables business intelligence (BI), which in practice can look like real-time dashboards showing data on your support team’s workload or analytics that help you make decisions on the fly, like whether you should extend or change the hours of your chat support team based on website activity and customer behavior.

Beyond business intelligence, which works behind the scenes, another crucial activity that ETL enables is known as marketing data integration. Marketing data integration helps businesses make sense and make use of all of the information they have flowing in from both first-party and third-party data sources, such as their CRM (first-party) and social media networks (third-party).

Once ETL has helped move all of a company’s relevant data into the right tool, marketing data integration is able to guide a number of activities, including marketing personalization. With information about a customer’s behavior and engagement added in real-time, your business can automatically change the ads, emails, and messaging they see to help reduce friction and make them feel like you’re speaking directly to their needs.

When it comes to marketing data integration and personalization, machine learning algorithms often play a critical part in making sure that changes can happen quickly and without the need for manual input. That’s how your store’s featured products or pop-up offers could change to best fit a customer’s interest without your team needing to lift a finger.

As you can imagine, once you delve into the ETL process and start looking at things such as marketing data integration, the possibilities are nearly endless. With so many opportunities to shape the customer journey, ETL will become crucial support in your revenue generation. Regardless of your industry, offers a powerful platform to help you put ETL to work for your business. 


Examples of ETL in Ecommerce

Business intelligence and marketing data integration are ultimately vague terms, particularly for businesses that are just beginning the long and complicated journey of building their tech stack. So, to help put these technologies into perspective, let’s delve into some specific examples of how ETL and reverse ETL can power operations at your ecommerce business

Lose Fewer Customers

No matter how large or small your advertising budget may be, all of the traffic your campaigns send to your app or website is crucial to generating profit.

Of course, only a small fraction of those visitors will actually convert into paying customers. Others may browse for a bit but never add something to their cart. Fewer still will actually make it to the cart page, and only some of those will complete the checkout process. 

Even customers that do convert, might experience problems along the way, like payment issues or a late delivery, that could leave them with a negative impression of your brand. What’s more, without data-driven infrastructure helping you run your store, you might never know that a customer had to re-enter their card information three times before a successful checkout, and that means you can never work to alleviate their frustration or fix the underlying problem until someone takes the time to bring it to your attention.

So, how do ETL and reverse ETL processes help you acquire and retain your customers when you have all of these pathways and behaviors in front of you? Some of the things you can achieve include:

  • Sharing a welcome email with a list of tips or information that can help new users get past points of friction. 

  • Generating a list of users who abandoned their carts and sending them price drop alerts on the items they viewed.

  • Sending an apology offer when a customer’s order arrives late or if they experienced issues during the buying or checkout process.

  • Creating a push notification for users who were recently looking at a product that was out of stock once that item is able to be ordered again.

  • Targeting a particular segment of your customer base with a sale or product launch based on historical buying behavior (e.g., specific brands they have purchased in the past). 

All of these examples still only begin to show the power of ETL and reverse ETL in the world of ecommerce, so let’s dive deeper into some of the other processes you can implement and automate with the use of the right technologies. 

Provide Context for Customer Support

When it comes to creating a complete view of a customer in downstream apps, such as Intercom and other customer support tools, reverse ETL is fundamental to the process. Using reverse ETL, your business can sync crucial information, like loyalty program status and prior complaints, so that your support agents can understand the context of their interactions at a glance.

Providing such context for customer support requests is essential to speeding up resolution delivery; giving customers an experience where they feel known and valued; and empowering your support staff to make decisions that are tailored to a customer’s needs. For instance, if a customer has a defective product that they’d like to return, context can tell them that the customer has already received a complimentary replacement and can offer them a refund for the original item rather than promising to send another free product.

Even seemingly small tidbits of information, like whether a customer is part of your brand’s loyalty program, can help support agents deliver better and faster service. For example, when you have a surge of calls during a big sale, this information can help agents prioritize who to help first, ultimately producing a higher retention rate and even a higher conversion rate by focusing on those who have a track record of making big and frequent purchases from your business. 

Here are some other examples:

  • Offering a user that signed up but didn’t make a purchase the opportunity to get a free product with their first order. 

  • Giving customers who made a purchase but have an issue an apology offers, like store credit, to encourage them to order again. 

  • Sending an email to a customer when they haven’t purchased in a while with an offer based on their historical buying behavior.

  • Inviting customers that have exceeded a spending threshold to vote on a new product design or join the testing group. 

Looking for a platform that integrates with your entire tech stack and is powerful enough to help you achieve automations like these? Get to know and what we offer. 

Streamline Loyalty Program Approvals

In the event that your ecommerce brand decides to launch a loyalty program, ETL and reverse ETL can help streamline the approval process, making sure that your loyalty program remains exclusive and only available to the customers who shop at your store the most. By doing so, you can create a program that people are excited to join and showcase your requirements for acceptance (i.e., a minimum of $500 in annual purchases) to encourage them to get there. 

Getting people to apply to your loyalty program is a front-end and marketing project, but when it comes to the backend approval process, that’s something that requires a well-set-up tech stack to pull off quickly and easily. Tools like Salesforce can be used to analyze data in applications and decide whether a customer is approved or rejected based on how long they’ve been a customer, how much they’ve purchased in the past year, and even how many returns or complaints they’ve requested.

By only approving the customers that purchase often and are satisfied with your products, you can then use loyalty program status for prioritizing support requests, but also for exclusive invitations for product testing, brand events, and secret sales. As a result, your brand is able to create a customer experience that’s unique and personal, helping you to keep customers coming back for a brand connection they can’t find elsewhere. 

So, here’s how ETL can support the success of your loyalty program: 

  • Create a list of high-value customers that you want to join your loyalty program, send them an invitation, and set up your tools, so they instantly auto-approve them. 
  • Send invitations to customers once they meet the thresholds of approval, such as annual spending amounts or the total amount of purchases.
  • Use offers and special perks to encourage a loyalty program member to make a purchase when they haven’t in a while.
  • Sending reminders when a membership is about to expire telling the customer what they need to do to maintain their status. 

Achieving Regulatory Compliance

For most companies, tapping into the droves of data being generated by customer interactions and buying behavior is exciting, but once you get to the point of considering all of the regulatory implications, it can quickly become overwhelming. With GDPR and CCPA, among others, controlling how you must collect data, notify customers, and manage their information, ETL and reverse ETL actually become crucial to ensuring compliance.

One of the best examples of reverse ETL at work in achieving compliance is making sure that you meet the requirement that states customers should be able to review what data has been collected on them and request its deletion at any point in time. The former may be easy by simply generating rows of the data you hold, like name, email, address, and credit card info. However, actually deleting it upon request becomes more difficult.

Removing data from your central data warehouse is often easy enough, but what about all the downstream apps that are fed by your data warehouse where data will not automatically be deleted just because it’s no longer in the warehouse? That’s when reverse ETL comes into play, as it’s able to check all of those apps and delete the corresponding data, ensuring that your team doesn’t spend hours tracking down customer info. 

In addition to helping you quickly delete data after a customer’s request, you can also: 

  • Regularly purge outdated and unnecessary customer information from all of your systems, ensuring no downstream apps will keep storing it.
  • Use pop-ups or emails to briefly ask your customers to confirm that their information is up-to-date and update your systems accordingly.
  • Request customers to review the data you’re collecting and often storing to improve transparency and trust amongst your user base. 

How Can Support Your Ecommerce Brand

With so much customer data flowing your way, learning how to turn that raw data into metrics and information your sales, support, and marketing teams can actually use is crucial to achieving profitability and fostering brand loyalty. Of course, with so many complex data types and sources, finding the right analytics tools and connecting them all together takes a great deal of planning. Without the right approach, you can easily end up with silos of data from different sources that are impossible to review, understand, and use on a daily basis.

With the help of extract, transform, and load solutions, ecommerce platforms can begin to enrich employee workflows using a powerful data pipeline that feeds information both upstream and downstream, unlocking big data analysis that’s just not possible without the right tech stack.

So, understanding the many ways that ETL and reverse ETL processes can apply to your ecommerce brand can help inspire you to begin, but what does it actually take to achieve data integration as an ecommerce business? It starts with choosing a data integration platform with deep ecommerce capabilities, a lightning-fast CDN, and powerful ETL and reverse ETL tools.

In addition to supporting data management, helps your business easily handle large amounts of data without weighing down your engineering team thanks to pre-built connectors and an intuitive interface. If you’re interested in learning more about how works or what you need to do to get started with the setup process, it’s time to reach out to our friendly team. Schedule an intro call today to learn more.