Now Trending: Using Personalized Data for a Better Online and Offline Customer Experience

In the past few year the major focus for online retailers was providing personalized experiences for users shopping for products online. Technology allows us track our customer’s site usage, analyze their purchasing habits and use this information to lavish our VIP customers with deals, coupons and special offers.  And while this heavy focus within the online channel certainly pays off, bricks-and-mortar stores still account for the lion share of overall spending. This is true not only for retail but also for travel, food and services. 

In 2014 we are seeing the focus is shifting toward using the personalized data captured online to create an experience that translates to the physical world, offering a personalized experience online AND in-store.  Building the bridge between online and offline helps retail brands better serve their customers and make the cross-channel experience more valuable, personalized and enjoyable for customers. This in turn builds an even stronger loyalty in customers; something that all brands strive for.

Let’s take a movie theater as an example to illustrate how using online data can work.  The movie theater has a loyalty program that is comprehensive and is typically accessed and tracked online, maintaining a solid database of information about an individual user like John Smith. Here are some ways a brands can interact with John personally based on the data:

  1. We know that John is a “social influencer” online. When John walks into the theater and purchases something, we should give him special, personalized treatment, as he is the type of person who would be apt to share about this experience.
  2. Since John uses Facebook to sign into the loyalty program site, we know that he has a four year old who he likes to take to the movies and he is going to the movies this weekend.  From the minute John and his son walk in the door they could be treated with a personalized experience like being greeted by name, being handed a flyer for an upcoming promotion for kids and directed right into the movie.
  3. John goes into the bathroom and finds it dirty, posting a tweet on twitter to tell people about it.  The theater should be listening for this kind of feedback real time and go into the bathroom to take care of the issue. A personalized push notification or a tweet could be sent back to John saying that the issue is resolved.

Do we have your wheels turning yet? There are many, many ways brands can use data to personalize an in-store experience; these ideas only scratch the surface. Through recent advances in utilizing smart phones such as Apple’s iBeacon and NFC merchants can utilize Apple’s iBeacon (Apple) or NFC to identify when those influencers and VIP customers enter their store.

Our major point? Merchants have a significant amount of data in their hands that they may not realize they have because it’s tied up in systems that don’t talk to each other.  As we move toward using more open systems the data will manifest itself in more useful ways. The world is shifting to using all of this data vs. some of the data to create a unified, personalized experience for each loyal customer.

How are you currently using data for your business? Have you thought of ways it can be used to create online and offline experiences for your customers?

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