Shoppers expect a personalized and seamless customer experience at every touchpoint. They expect retailers to know their interests and preferences and use this data to provide consistent, timely, relevant, and personalized engagements. Retailers thus need to communicate the right content at the right time to keep customers coming back for more. And whatever the touchpoint or interaction, the critical element is always data.
Tons of data are shared in the retail industry every day and is perhaps one of its most valuable assets. Retailers have access to a huge amount of information such as consumer purchase history, interests, behaviour or socio-demographics. Customer data can be collected naturally during different transactions within the buying processes but some data can also be given voluntarily by customers. But the questions is: why would customers want to share their personal information with the retailers and brands they purchase from?
Interestingly, many customers are amenable to sharing at least some personal information—if they see value in it for them. It’s possible that the savvy customer today understands that when this data is used effectively, it is the customer who will ultimately benefit, as it can help retailers enhance the customer experience and provide innovative products and services. In an increasingly digital economy, it is no surprise that there is a shift in terms of customers’ attitudes to the value of their data exchange with the brands they interact with. Many customers have learned that sharing their information can benefit them through rewards and offers and retail brands should feel empowered to request customer data or use information generated by a shopper’s interaction with a brand. Customers are more willing to share data when they feel they get something in return when there is a clear benefit such as discounts, coupons, reward points, gift cards or titles such as “privileged customer” and so on. Retailers should understand that many consumers may provide relevant information in exchange for something that benefits them and offer attractive rewards.
What about privacy and data security?
Data security remains a hot issue, with several well-known brands reporting that their data is still susceptible to theft. Given the ever-present threat that their information may fall into the wrong hands, it’s not surprising that customers feel that they have no control over the way their personal data are collected and used. If consumer-related data breaches continue or increase, customers may take even greater measures to protect their personal information—making the efforts of companies to build a relationship with them that much harder.
What can retailers do?
Important way companies can build and maintain consumer trust is to both put in place proactive data security and privacy measures and to engage in a transparent, ongoing dialogue on data privacy. Retail customers are still willing to provide their personal information if they can be assured of transparency in how the data will be used if they are provided with easy to access and to understand privacy policies and agreements, and if they have the option to opt-out of data sharing whenever they want.
There’s no doubt that customers have come to expect personalized, seamless experiences, and they’re disappointed when these expectations aren’t met. Innovative retailers are quickly creating a competitive advantage by connecting the data they already have (such as customer feedback, personal information, product searches, and purchase history) with insights extracted from social media, digital devices, voice, and IoT sensors to transform their customer experience and perfect their personalization skills.
To earn customer loyalty, retailers need to elevate their personalization capabilities beyond product recommendations to include elements like individualized content, user-generated content and experiences that are tailored based on real-time behaviour. Those retailers that achieve this level of personalized digital experiences will succeed.
Balancing data privacy and trust through meaningful and contextual customer interactions is pivotal to ensuring shoppers will continue to view the benefits of the data exchange. As retailers become ever more digitally savvy, building a process for effectively capturing customer interactions with the brand, and acting on the important insights they generate, becomes increasingly important. Customers are willing to return to a store or a website for repeat purchases if their needs are met well and if they are recognized. In such a scenario, the exchange of value for insightful data is clearly sought-after by shoppers because it helps them, as much as it helps the brand, move from average experiences to shopping delight.
Zuci is revolutionizing the way software platforms are engineered with the help of patented AI and deep learning models. Learn more about Zuci at www.zucisystems.com.
About the author
Keerthika is the Marketing Trainee at Zuci. She specializes in Marketing and evangelizing the brand Zuci to the outside world. Check her out at Keerthika V