The complete buyer’s guide to choosing a Customer Data Platform

Starting a CDP Project? Ask yourself this...
Single Customer View

What is a CDP? Definition

CDPs helps organizations manage the data needed to better understand and interact with their customers.

The technology know as Customer Data Platform is defined by the CDP Institute like this:

“CDPs are packaged software that create a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.”

CDP Institute

Certain features distinguish CDPs from other systems that:

  • work primarily with their own data (such as a CRM),
  • store only limited details for limited periods and include large volumes of externally-owned data (DMP),
  • do not maintain a permanent database (Integration Platform),
  • or only interact with customers (Email, Mobile App, and Web Content Management).

Are all CDPs equal?

There are different types of CDPs and there are great variations among vendors within each category.

  • Solely Data CDPs: This type of CDP includes only core components of a customer data platform like collecting data from different sources, providing a 360° view of the customer’s journey, segmentation of data, and integration with other applications.
  • Data and Analytics CDPs: This type of CDP provides a more robust view of customers’ journeys, along with data reports, to understand the customers in a better way. This includes more advanced analytics.
  • Data, Analytics, and Engagement CDPs: This type of CDP can execute cross-channel CDP marketing campaigns, along with all features provided under other CDPs. This includes customer experience optimization, marketing automation, predictive product recommendations, and more.

To select the best customer data platform for your business, check for certain features like integration options, security (GDPR & CCPA compliant), analytics and insights, behavioral triggers, and real-time data along with pricing plans as different tools have different pricing plans.

Javi Fernández, co-founder & CTO at Loyal Guru

Can my company build its own CDP?

Depending on your situation, this option might not be advisable.

If you have limited internal resources and no experience in launching or updating a customer data platform, chances are high that building, maintaining and evolving the framework internally will be a time and energy-consuming nightmare for your IT department. It would also give your marketing team less control and less ability to operate independently from IT.

In terms of technology, satisfaction among platform users is higher amongst those using third-party vendors, contrary to technology that’s built in-house.

For the majority of retailers, it is in fact cheaper, easier and faster to buy rather than build a CDP solution.

How to evaluate different CDP vendors?

The capability of managing data is common to all Customer Data Platform solutions, but only a few are capable of activating your customer data and boosting monetization. Depending on your long-term goals you might need one solution or the other

To be sure your CDP is able to help your organization achieve the best results you need to figure out if it complies with the following:

  • Ability collect data from different sources and provide a Single Customer View: This is the first step and the key base to leverage correctly within an organization. Make sure your CDP allows you to collect customer data from a wide variety of different sources, cleanse the data and consolidate it into a 360° customer view with the entities your organization needs for decision making.
  • Powerful segmentation: Only a CDP that enables you to create complex audiences that easily integrate with your marketing stack will help you boost your personalization efforts
  • Insights and intelligence (including AI) 
  • Analytical capabilities: By unifying data, it is easier for you and your team to analyze your customer data and have a better understanding of sales performance, purchase behavior, and category development.
  • Activation capabilities: This is one of the most important capabilities to monetize. Actionable CDPs allow retailers to activate customer data, for example using it to boost loyalty programs and personalized offers in one single solution
  • Security, Stability & Scalability:  A CDP should scale and grow with your business without needing to be replaced as the amount of the data you’re processing increases.

Now, the big question is:

Which is the best Customer Data Platform considering your unique business needs?

Choosing between two or more CDP vendors is a big decision retailers have to face with so many solutions in the market.

To help you make a decision, we have created a shortlist of the typical questions you may want to answer before starting a CDP project.

Let’s get started:

Current state of your data

Question: Which best describes the current state of the customer database at your company?
  • [ ] One system does almost everything
  • [ ] Many disconnected tools
  • [ ] Different tools connected to a unified customer database
  • [ ] Many tools connected to a marketing automation or CRM platform

Obstacles to using data

Question. What are your current main obstacles to better customer data utilization?
  • [ ] Customer data collection problems, such as source systems do not capture adequate data, data silos, can’t assemble data into a Single Customer View, etc
  • [ ] Customer data activation problems, such as inability to apply customer data in loyalty program, personalized offers, omnichannel campaigns, etc
  • [ ] Lack of time or skill from marketing or IT staff, or challenging cooperation across the organization
  • [ ] Senior management does not support
  • [ ] Budget is inadequate

Impactful features

Question. Which ONE feature would MOST improve your business outcomes?
  • [ ] Personalization and automation would immediately increase profitability!
  • [ ] Generating reports from multiple data sources across the organization would be a game changer for strategic planning and better decision making!
  • [ ] With a centralized information we’d be better prepared to solve our customers’ problems and customer service would immediately improve!
  • [ ] One?! I can’t choose one! A CDP with all these features would transform the way we run our company.


Question. What CDP capabilities are MOST important to you?
  • [ ] Collect data from all sources, including POS, websites, mobile apps and 3rd parties in real-time
  • [ ] Powerful and accurate identity management
  • [ ] Non-technical users can extract customer segments, create predictive models, etc
  • [ ] Coordinate customer communications across channels
  • [ ] Support compliance with GDPR and other privacy regulations
  • [ ] All of the above would be valuable to my business!


Question. What are your main concerns when deploying a new CDP?
  • [ ] Difficulty to integrate with current tech stack
  • [ ] Cost of deployment
  • [ ] Selecting a CDP that fails to perform as expected
  • [ ] Reliance on IT staff to select a CDP
  • [ ] Underestimating implementation time and cost


Question. Is a CDP upgrade a line item in your current budget?
  • [ ] No, but we’re making recommendations for the coming fiscal year
  • [ ] Yes, we’re just waiting for approval
  • [ ] The budget has been approved, and we’re ready to get started


Question. When do you want to have your new CRM solution in place?
  • [ ] We’d like to have everything moved to the new CDP within the next 2 months
  • [ ] A new CRM solution is on the books for some time this fiscal year
  • [ ] We hope to transfer data to the new CDP in time to start fresh next year
Single Customer View
Interested in learning how Loyal Guru can help you harness the power of your retail data?

Loyal Guru is the leading Customer Data Platform for grocers and retailers, helping them collect and activate their omnichannel customer data in a single customer view. As a result, our clients can access accurate predictors of customer behavior and quickly improve their marketing and sales efforts with more personalized experience for their customers.

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If you are considering upgrading your Customer Data Platform, please get in touch with our team – we’ll be happy to show you examples or talk through your company’s unique challenges.