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Brief Published: 19 Mar 2014

Unravelling Consumer Data at GlobalShop 2014

Unravelling Consumer Data

Yesterday (March 18) at the annual GlobalShop retail trade expo and conference in Las Vegas, Antonia Ward, Head of Advisory Services at Stylus, sat on the Love Potion No. 9.9 panel to discuss unravelling the mystical power of consumer data. 

The talk spanned store design, technology, consumer insights, and marketing and branding. Fellow panel experts included host Paul Biondolillo of the Retail Design Institute and Senior Associate at MulvannyG2 Architecture; Paco Underhill, CEO of Envirosell; Michael Wilhite, SVP of Dunhumby; and Tom Herndon, SVP of Design at Macy’s. Here are the key points.

Data Decision: Creating filters for the mounds of digital big data generated by consumers is a key challenge for retailers. Ward said: “What is common across many sectors is no-one needs more information. With big data, size does not automatically equal value – it’s about working out what you are trying to do with that data, and what commercial imperative it’s trying to solve.”

Anywhere Macy’s: With more than 3.3 million consumers downloading the Macy’s app, Tom Herndon quoted Macy’s Chairman Terry Lungren by saying: “It’s time to stop thinking about Macy’s as a department store, and start thinking about it as a retailer.” As customers shop across multiple channels, Macy’s sales growth will not come from same-store sales, but will grow exponentially via digital. And using digital data to work out what these customers want locally, is a key commercial imperative.

Bringing Data In-store: In the age of instant smartphone information and online reviews, the consumer often has more product data than trained sales associates, said Biondolillo. Wilhite further commented on this, saying that electronics retailer Best Buy addressed associate product engagement in-store by arming staff with their own personal electronic devices, levelling the information playing field.

Contradictory Consumers: On the question of consumer privacy in relation to data, Ward commented: “The most fantastic yet maddening thing about human beings is that they can hold completely contradictory positions at the same time.” She explained that a person can be aggrieved at surveillance by the National Security Agency, yet obsessively check-in on Foursquare or share shopping lists on Pinterest. “Eventually, there will be a natural balance between privacy and utility – consumers will be willing to share information in return for something.”

For more on data in the retail environment, see the report Data Tracking and Response Monitoring, plus iBeacons: Mobile Targeting and Tracking, Amazon’s Anticipatory Shipping, and Mobile Marketing Gets Personal at Macy’s