Turning Points 2008: Creating Store Transformation by Earning Trust

Dec 23, 2008

by Laura Davis-Taylor, Founder & Principal, Retail Media Consulting

note: In what we plan to make an annual end-of-year tradition, RetailWire
has compiled a list of the most significant retail industry “Turning
Points” of 2008. (See our news release…)
What follows is the tenth in a series of discussions based on the list.

was a banner year for in-store digital media (ISDM), as spending ramped
up significantly and helped secure the “marketing at retail” opportunity
as real. Wal-Mart also made big waves, as they announced the new evolution
of their in-store network dubbed “the Wal-Mart Smart Network.” But
as more and more retailers and brands look toward the store, we must ask
ourselves what in-store digital tools hold the most potential and how can
we ensure that consumers will embrace them?

to the mobile marketing acceptance debate, we as an industry have hopefully
learned that we must earn a consumer relationship. The level of intimacy
we earn is a continuum, and we must continually move it forward by respecting
our shoppers’ wishes.

few examples come to mind. I am now a Clear Card member and in exchange
for scanning my retina and all ten fingerprints, I can proceed to the front
of the security line in any Clear-approved airport. Google is another,
as they have slowly activated more and more online tools that make my business
and personal life more manageable, even though I know that they are tracking
many things such as what I’m looking at, what I’m storing online and even
what tools I’m using to operate my daily business. In both cases, the convenience
and value of what I’m getting outweigh any privacy concerns I might harbor.
Also, I realize that if I feel uncomfortable
with a relationship at any time, I can break it.

we look to
“cure the diseases” that reside within retail stores with technology,
there are amazing possibilities with interactive screens, mobile phones and
other emerging devices. We also have new in-store analysis tools that can
track how shoppers are responding to these technologies to ensure that they
are being used and valued.

conundrum is that trust is at an all-time low and shopper insights are
being valued by brands and agencies at an all-time high.

a survey this year from the Better Business Bureau, they shared that “the
decline in consumer trust (causes) serious problems for businesses. But
more importantly, it is an opportunity for businesses that understand the
importance of trust, and operate and lead with integrity, to gain a competitive

this tumultuous retail landscape, we stand at a crossroads. We have the
capability to create entirely new models of engaging our shoppers with
technology. Yet we are clouded by old dogma and a desperate need to create
short-term revenues, much of which can be generated by capitalizing on
the “media value” of personal information gathered from shoppers.
If we do this, trust will be the price we pay. Without trust, people don’t
share. And if they don’t share, we can’t meet their needs and create better
relationships with them. As we move into 2009, my hope is that this point
is one that we take seriously. If we don’t, store transformation will not
be possible.

Questions: Can we earn the right to personal conversations with shoppers
in-store? What will it take to earn trust with shoppers in today’s competitive

Join the Discussion!

7 Comments on "Turning Points 2008: Creating Store Transformation by Earning Trust"

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Phil Rubin
8 years 11 months ago

It is not really that ironic that while merchants and agencies are increasingly recognizing the value of customer relationships, the customers still have very little trust. As the story points out, there is indeed a quid pro quo for a permission-based brand/customer relationship.

That quid pro quo is established when marketers and their agencies are responsible, accountable and capable of providing value for the customer’s data. The reason that trust is so low is because marketers generally don’t use the data to make the communications–whether in-store, in the inbox or the mailbox–relevant.

The more that merchants, marketers and their agencies embrace the use of data for more personal communications across all channels, the more they will gain customers’ trust.

David Biernbaum
8 years 11 months ago

The data is only as good as the methodology to obtain it, its reliability, and the core skill sets applied by humans to translate it accurately to achieve trust, while also doing more business and making more profits. Long way to go!

Anne Bieler
Anne Bieler
8 years 11 months ago

The first choice a shopper makes is where to shop. Retailers who can’t convince their core consumers–the 25% responsible for 75% of the purchases–are at great risk. As the messages and merchandising keep changing to increase sales volume, these critical relationships can be jeopardized. Trust is the starting point for consumer relationships; loyalty is the reward.

Ben Ball
8 years 11 months ago

Well, not to go all “Huckabee” on our readers–but, to earn trust consumers must believe that we will “Do The Right Thing” (title of Huck’s new book I think) every time. We get that trust by showing respect. Respect of consumer’s time, privacy, tolerance and consideration. The biggest issue with “digital trust” is that there are so many third party vulnerabilities. Even if I trust the Customs and Immigration folks, how can I be sure that the FBI or CIA or NSA will NEVER gain access to those files–either overtly or covertly? And Laura, just how again was it that they promised to return the retina scan and digital fingerprint files to you if you decide to “opt out”? I’m only picking on the government example here because Laura threw it out–and it is a very good example. But consumers harbor some level of similar distrust of every digital contact point. Only time and a virtually spotless track record of “respect” will overcome that.

Jonathan Marek
8 years 11 months ago

To me, there’s a bit of a disconnect here. I think there is a lot that can be done, and that isn’t currently being done, with in-store digital media that isn’t micro-targeted to individuals in a way that elicits privacy concerns. While it may not be trendy to say, most retail offerings are appropriately product-driven, with the products attracting certain segments within the overall mix of customers walking into the store. Effectively linking in-store media content to the right products (in a way that appeals to many individuals, not each unique individual) is rarely done today. That seems like the place to start.

James Tenser
8 years 11 months ago
Privacy and personalization are two sides of the same coin. In our era of mass markets, if I want personalized services from a retailer (or any provider), I must be willing to sacrifice some privacy to get it. Here’s where the trust factor emerges: I’ll only share personal information if I feel I can trust the retailer (or institution) to do two things: 1) protect my privacy and 2) deliver a benefit that is well worth my sacrifice of privacy. For conventional shopper media (focused on message delivery only, and measured simply in terms of reach, frequency or ratings points) trust is not an issue for consumers. The moment a shopper media system either: 1) targets a message to me as an individual or member of a segment; or 2) watches me watch the message and draws some inferences about my behavior; then I begin to have some privacy concerns that must be offset by trust. Since by virtue of its proximity, shopper media can influence purchase behavior at the instant choice is made, message… Read more »
Mark Lilien
8 years 11 months ago

Any medium loses trust when it’s widely adopted because it gets abused. As for trusting a retailer: very few stores earn their shoppers’ trust. Some local stores in every market (a few exceptions, not the majority), Costco, Barnes & Noble, and a few other chains. The rest? Your “loyal customers” will leave you for a dime. Lucky for you the flow of new capital is now shut off, so new competition any time soon isn’t likely.


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