Last month, I authored a post on ‘big data’ and whether it should be viewed as a friend or foe for consumers. As fate would have it, shortly after I completed that piece, I found myself in a very relevant personal shopping experience.
Looking for new business shirts, I headed off to my favorite retailer to pick up a few. Upon entering the store, I was approached by a friendly sales associate who offered his assistance. I outlined the specific shirts I was looking for and provided my size and then he set off to check their inventory. As I waited, I began chatting with another team member, who I later discovered was the store manager. Engaging in casual conversation, he asked me what I did for work. After mentioning that I work in payments technology and briefly describing our company’s latest innovation, Genius™ as well our vision for the future of retail, he immediately commented on how his company could really benefit from a platform like Genius. He then went on to share his frustrations regarding the disparate data systems they have for online and traditional retail, noting that if his retail customers make purchases online, he has no way of knowing what they purchased, when etc. and how, if he had access to that data, he would be able to enhance his engagement with his customers and deliver greater value, not only for his customers, but also for his employer.
In the world of retail, successful e-commerce merchants, like Amazon, have been leveraging data to drive not only sales, but also an enhanced customer experience. By tracking what a consumer searches for, what they buy and what products they leave in their shopping cart, Amazon is able to deliver a more relevant and personalized experience to its shoppers. For cross-channel retailers, the vast majority captures this data for online purchases and possibly even for in-store as well, but there isn’t a holistic strategy. The ability to share and leverage these ‘data dynamics’ cross-channel between online, brick and mortar and even mobile shopping is fast becoming a pressing need for tier 1 and 2 retailers.
It’s long been said that information is power. Of course, it depends on how the information is used, but in the world of retail, it’s obvious that there is a direct correlation between information and service delivery. My recent experience is just one instance of this, but it’s an interesting one as the need came directly from the retailer. From a consumer perspective, I think many of us assume that there is a 360-degree view of our retail experience across channels (web, mobile and in-store, etc.), but for many retailers, that is just not the case – at least not yet.