Privacy, mobile & metrics are main themes that have grown deeper roots in 2014 and will continue to be a main point of concern and opportunity for retailers heading into 2015. These were also the main topics touched on in the December 18 Coffee with CART.
Whether it is PCI compliance, protecting sensitive consumer information like credit card numbers, or collecting location information from consumers’ phones, retailers are facing more situations where they have to safeguard data to protect not only themselves, but also their customers. With the news of hackings and breaches in the news almost monthly, the hunt for consumer data isn’t going away, so how do retailers assuage consumer skepticism when it comes to this data collection. Schuyler Hawkins talked on the call about the decisions retailers must make about their data and its privacy: what data to collect, and how to manage it?
One of the hot topics related to this data collection is ibeacons. These location trackers on a mobile device allow retailers to see where consumers are in the store and what their movement looks like as they shop. Hawkins noted that this technology essentially gives the brick and mortar retailer the ability to act like an online operator. Online, consumer movements are tracked through cookies and Google Analytics. In store, with the location data turned on and ibeacons, the retailer can get the same information. Not all retailers have met this opportunity with success, as consumers are still wary of being physically tracked, but Hawkins also noted that personalized offers have to be balanced with the value proposition retailers are offering.
Another opportunity in the mobile space is mobile apps. When considering mobile apps, Hawkins said retailers have the option of getting a white-label app, ensuring their brand integrity and maintaining control over the audience, or a third-party app which has its own following, and owned properties. There are benefits to both, and more discussion about long-term objectives of the app must be considered before choosing an option. Apps can also serve as a vehicle to offer a new form of a loyalty program. A card isn’t necessarily required any more to personalize consumer offerings.
With or without a tradition or modern loyalty program, retailers have a multitude of metrics at their fingertips to learn how consumers are behaving. One that Hawkins said is often overlooked, or not used fully, is Google Analytics. Google Analytics, which allow retailers to see click rates, page views and a variety of other information are an easy way to see where consumers are engaging on a retailer’s website. These metrics are key for every brick and mortar retailer.
Privacy, mobile and metrics were important in 2014 and will continue to be in 2015. The industry and its reliance on services and programs to help with these areas of business will continue to evolve. Yet retailers must be aware of the challenges and opportunities that exist: to protect consumer information and enhance their in-store experiences while also measuring effectiveness along the way.