The collection and interpretation of data for retail supports a better customer experience, not just interrupting figures to relentlessly disrupt consumers.
When used well data supports the role of customer connection, immediacy and better one to one contact.
Our ongoing discussion on retail change introduces a wider voice from the Resolution Interiors community. We work closely with mobile innovation company Mubaloo and the audiovisual experience team from Media Zest.
Joining Mike Langley (Sales and Marketing Director) and Pippa Saunders (Marketing Manager) is Mike Crooks (Head of Innovation at Mubaloo Innovation Lab) and Geoff Robertson (Chief Executive at Media Zest).
Our original article looked at technology transforming how we shop, let’s continue exploring with the data perspective and understanding consumer behavior on a much deeper level.
The Brand Perspective
Retail services company eCommera highlighted that only 23% of UK retailers feel they can quickly make sense of data they have available, whilst 50% believe their current business analysis tools fall short of their needs. Is it a case of understanding what brands collate and what they will use it for?
“The whole crux of the argument is when data helps support messages and engagement based on who the demographic is and going even further, a much more intimate level,” highlighted Mike Crooks.
“Brands can either take a short-term, campaign approach and position to where the marketplace is now or they can look at the bigger picture where collection and interpretation becomes an ongoing commitment to understand the entire customer and lifestyle journey. I don’t think we are there, just yet.’
Geoff mentioned, “The end goal for retail is to make it easier to get what you are looking for. Data can help make the customer journey better from interaction through to the store layout. Where we are today is data supporting personalization and preferencing.”
The brands that use data as a means of not wanting to get left behind are the ones where there is no link between the customers’ needs and the brand delivery. What started six years ago as, “We want an app,” highlighted Mike Crooks, has become in the past couple of years, “we need to become more strategic to what our customers want.”
As highlighted in previous articles, customer expectation is leading a mindset change, not just technology. Pippa stated, “Data can help brands make a more informed decision. It can help shape a narrative or as author Brene Brown highlights maybe stories are data with soul.”
From a brand perspective, data has to mean something to everyone. A stance that is instilled from Resolution Interiors, Mike Langley.
“A brand cannot place a champion within the lap of a particular department, such as a technical/innovation team and then expect it to be successful without the participation of other groups such as planning and marketing teams.” Mike claimed.
“Every department has to keep and maintain an ongoing dialogue. The level of engagement has to come from everyone and for everyone to understand the end goals that are in place.”
Data works when there is a connection between the online and offline experience and remains consistent with what a brand stands for.
Evolving The Customer Experience
Data is helping shape and evolve the customer experience.
We have highlighted in a previous article what Amazon has achieved by opening its first bricks and mortar bookshop in Seattle. Entrepreneur simply described what Amazon have created, “it used customer data to really get to know its customers.”
Within the UK, this is exactly what brands are now achieving with a customer-oriented approach. Take for example Hyundai turning a whole industry belief on its head. The company recently opened its second dealership within a shopping centre (Bluewater, Kent and now Stratford’s Westfield). Geoff explained, “Within a shopping environment, the whole approach becomes customer not sales driven. If someone signs up for a Hyundai account, data provides education, not a sales pitch.”
“Hyundai is now positioning itself alongside high street brands and able to collect relevant information.”
Proof that success is measured by adoption.
Can Data Become Too Intrusive?
Within a data optimised world, can the collection of information become too intrusive?
“The challenge for retailers,” highlighted Pippa, “is to acknowledge, why would customers participate to give data?”
“It all comes down to what a person will get out of it. If a brand uses data well, it can be rewarded. However, if it is used to push advertising messages on a constant basis, then immediately becomes a worthless exercise. Trust instantly diminishes.”
This is a stance that messaging app, WhatsApp took in January by promising not to rely on advertising for its revenue source. The app will be completely free for users and would look for funding with business accounts. The customer is still in control.
The moment data becomes intrusive is when it is not relevant. Mike Crooks noted, “There is no excuse anymore, brands have the ability to not send too much.”
“If a brand takes data available and moulds it in a way that it becomes more engaging to make peoples lives easier and solve their pain points, is in a totally different space from lazy marketing that is purely transactional.”
Bringing To A Resolution
The role of data transforming how we interact with a brand is when the focus becomes a person, not a mass audience that fits a demographic.
The customer today has ultimate power, so how can a retailer benefit and become part of someone else’s routine and life?
There is no easy answer, but from the physical space interaction to the digital experience, the importance on building an ongoing relationship not a transactional sale is where the deeper engagement with brands lie. It is time for brands to take down the barriers, become more transparent and treat data as a privilege not a given.