Hold on, retailers. If you weren’t already buried under a mountain of consumer data, be prepared to get a bigger shovel.
If history is any indication, the Apple Watch, due in late April, will lift the already large and fast-growing market for wearable devices, and further challenge retailers already struggling to leverage consumer data. Why? Because wearables are not about the device itself – or even what they can do – but about the reams of information they collect.
Wearables, and all smart items, including fine jewelry, will compound the data conundrum for retailers who don’t know how to make sense of and leverage the data they collect.
Nevertheless, that is not an excuse to do nothing. If retailers are not already executing a plan to leverage customer insights, it will be very difficult to catch up to competitors who are. Analytics and personalization must be a top priority this year.
The trick for any company collecting data is to use it in a way that truly provides value to consumers. That means no blanket advertisements hawking irrelevant promotions. Retailers need to analyze data at a granular level to deliver relevant, hyper-local, geo-targeted messaging. Wearable devices, which include sensors, Bluetooth Low Energy sensors and RFID technologies, will provide this information in spades.
Retailers should use the data they have to be smarter and establish a better connection with consumers, delivering not only targeted offers and promotions but also information. And of course they have to give consumers the flexibility to regulate how their information is being used to customize their experience with the brand.
In a February interview (registration required) with the Financial Times, Unilever CMO Keith Weed noted the “fine balance” required to pull this off. He recommends giving consumers an easy opt-out and informing them about what will be shared, where and with whom. In other words, the data must be used for a specifically stated purpose.
The information explosion is not the enemy. It’s an opportunity that should not be wasted for fear of complexity. Look for expert partners to help navigate the waters. The benefit to retailers is increased engagement, loyalty and ultimately, increased revenue and brand value.