For retailers, big data affords the opportunity to understand customers better. What products do customers want? What type of shopping experience to they prefer? What types of sales and deals are they looking for and when do they want them? The effective use of big data leads, inevitably, to an improved customer experience. The retailer becomes more valuable to the customer and the customer, in turn, becomes more valuable to the retailer.
But what do your customers think about your use of big data?
The Media Vilification Of Big Data
The media loves to liken big data to Big Brother. In the news, companies have been vilified for everything ranging from data collection methods to the way in which mined data is used. Given the sensational nature of some of these stories, it is little wonder that customers are wary of big data. However, big data is actually used as a means to understand the world. It is leveraged in everything from natural disaster prediction to medicine to economic forecasting. Yet, when it comes to retail and big data, the general public is often quick to cry foul.
In order to connect with customers and get them to see the value in sharing their information, retailers need to be able to communicate effectively with their customers. They must clearly illustrate the ways in which data will allow them to provide a high level of personalized service—service those customers cannot access if they choose to remain off the grid.
Improving the Customer’s Experience
Let’s say a customer, we’ll call her Lucy, is in the market for a new television. She spends twenty minutes researching products on her favorite electronics store website. Data tells the retailer that based on her browsing behavior, the likelihood that Lucy will make a purchase within the next 72 hours is 80 percent. The following day, while Lucy is out for lunch, the retailer sends her a text message letting her know that she is within one mile of their nearest location, and the TV she was considering is on sale. She decides to go look at it in person, and while in the store, she is alerted again though her smartphone that a similar TV with more features and a higher customer rating is only $150 more, and she can find it in the next aisle. Lucy ends up purchasing a TV and has it shipped to her home that very same day.
Through the lens of a retailer, it’s easy to see how well Lucy was served through big data. We can assume that Lucy opted to receive all of those communications as she saw the value they would provide. After all, she took each step the retailer wanted her to take. But what if Lucy hadn’t opted in, or wasn’t aware of the service the retailer was trying to provide? It’s likely she wouldn’t have purchased the TV. Furthermore, those seemingly random, location-based texts could be perceived as invasive, and probably even a little unsettling.Big data has the power to improve the customer experience and strengthen relationships, but only when the customer has bought into the value of sharing information.
How To Get Customers To Buy In To Your Initiatives
Opting to receive communication alerts of nearby desired items on sale makes shoppers feel like tech-savvy bargain hunters. However, some customers may resist signing up for these services, afraid that “Big Brother is watching.”
One way to get customers over this fear is through exclusive offers and rewards. Shoppers are always looking for a great deal, and when customers are excluded because they choose to remain “off the grid,” they may feel as though they are missing chances to get more for their money. Customers who opt to share their mobile data can also be entered into an exclusive rewards program. Each time they take action on a communication, they might earn a certain amount of reward points, perhaps double the points on their purchase. Customers may sign up just to get a bargain, but if the communications and tools are truly useful and genuinely improve their shopping experience, they will quickly see the benefits.
Retailers must be savvy when it comes to executing big data initiatives. Extensive planning and communication, strategically combined with exclusive deals and rewards, can get retailers that essential buy-in from customers, creating a two-way communication that provides value to customer and retailer alike. Big data has the power to transform the retail world, but only if retailers use the data to improve customer experience. In such case, the customer will be a willing participant.