RSR Research: The Customer Data Challenge
Commentary by Nikki Baird, Managing Partner, RSR Research
Through a special
arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of an article from Retail
Paradox, Retail Systems Research’s weekly analysis
of emerging issues facing retailers.
Last year, I predicted that we would see
a shift toward "transparent retailing" largely
driven by three trends: green retailing, supply chain visibility, and greater
use of customer data. Well, as an industry, I don’t think we’ve made
much progress on any of these counts.
So rather than make some predictions for
2011, I offer a challenge. Let’s
just take one of these three — greater use of customer data. How can you
use the information that you’ve gathered about your customers to make their
lives better, easier, and/or more fun?
1. Purchase history analyzer: Just as Safeway offers this service to
help club card customers find more healthy eating options, are there ways that
this information can help your own customers? Are there items in their purchase
history that might qualify for Flexible Spending Account reimbursements that
they might have missed? Would any of these be business purchases? Can you predict
purchase frequency for replenishment items? Are any of them high-value items
that might change a consumer’s insurance needs? At some level, these can seem
silly or trivial — but if they help you delight your customers, why wouldn’t
you do this?
2. Digital receipts: Even if you don’t think you’ll get out
of providing a printed receipt (grocery stores in particular seem to need to
be able to show customers how much they saved as they walk to their cars),
offer emailed receipts to your customers — and/or provide them an easy way
to get purchase details into whatever financial tools they use, whether that
is Mint or Quicken or what-have-you. These personal finance providers are getting
very sophisticated. Intuit has launched digital receipt integration
this year, for example.
3. Shopping list helper: Using the above-mentioned purchase history
analyzer, offer a shopping list builder (must integrate online to phone, by
the way) that is pre-populated with high frequency purchase items. Make it
easy to add/edit/delete though, because otherwise such a list builder
goes from helpful to hopeless in a flash.
Retail in 2011 has to be more relevant
to individual customers (hmmm, I’m
sensing a theme coming on). And in order to achieve that, retailers need to
use all of the assets they have at their disposal — most especially customer
Discussion Questions: In what other ways could retailers be further capitalizing
on customer data? Which of the suggestions in the article offer the most