Online Shopping Experience Enhances with Customer Interaction Data

Industry Insight

Customers now use their mobile devices for a variety of activities related to shopping, from product research and conducting transactions to simply finding nearby brick-and-mortar locations. A new study released at the National Retail Federation (NRF) convention found that consumers have become more willing to give up personal information to retailers if merchants can enhance the online shopping experience as a result.

For example, the number of people willing to share their current location with retailers has nearly doubled year-over-year to 36 percent, Multichannel Merchant reports. Meanwhile, 38 percent said they would offer their mobile phone numbers if they could receive pertinent text messages and other relevant offers and discounts. Approximately one-third (32 percent) would also be willing to share their social network information.

Exchanging information for a valuable online shopping experience

Customers want a valuable online shopping experience in exchange for this information. They’ve been trained over the years by tech-savvy companies to know that their information is high in demand. Shoppers realize this data can be used to improve product design, marketing efforts and several other eCommerce operations. With that in mind, they want something of equal value in return for trading their personal information with merchants.

“The problem for many retailers is not only combining all this information together to form a consolidated view of a customer, but also reacting to it in a timely manner.”

The study noted five specific desires of customers when it comes to the online shopping experience: Price consistency, ability to ship items that are out of stock directly to their homes, the option to track the status of an order, a consistent product assortment across channels and the ability to return online purchases in store.

Personalization is closely entwined with all of these demands. For example, people want price consistency across channels because they want to choose how to shop – if they shop online, they don’t want to be forced to pay higher prices.  The same goes with product assortment: one of the leading frustrations of modern shoppers is seeing an item online, going into a store to make the purchase and discovering it’s not actually in stock.

Retailers can use customer information to personalize the shopping experience. For example, if people create an account, that account could tie them to a nearby brick-and-mortar location. That allows them to see, from the online store, if items are in stock at the physical store and make a decision regarding whether they want to order from the Web store or make the trip to the local shop.

In this type of arrangement, both parties win. Retailers get the data they need to fine-tune eCommerce operations, while customers gain access to a flexible, personalized shopping experience.

“Omnichannel retailing is not just a challenge of data volume – Big Data – but really a challenge of broad data,” IBM added. “Omnichannel requires retailers to combine all customer interaction data – be it from the store, online or a mobile device – with external data from social media, video and sensors. The problem for many retailers is not only combining all this information together to form a consolidated view of a customer, but also reacting to it in a timely manner.”

As retailers move forward, they should look to make use of all the data at their disposal to the fullest extent. From real-time inventory management figures to customer information, correct utilization of data is key to operational excellence and a successful omnichannel strategy.