Target marketing and data mining is now a feature that high end retailers have the option to utilize in order to create a more personalized customer experience.
The data offered to luxury brands includes knowing what a consumer drops into their online shopping bag but never followed through with a completed transaction. This information can be sent to the sales representative in the physical store, along with how much the consumer spent the last time they shopped there. With all this data provided, this may cause for blurry lines between the online shopping and in-store experience.
The idea behind providing all this data is to allow for an enhanced experience with the brand, making the customer feel pampered and special, though some customers may find it odd, maybe even disturbing.
Matt Dion, the VP of Marketing for Elastic Path said, "You can create an experience that is highly personalized, and the customer appreciates it, but it's very easy to go a little too far and be creepy and invasive. So I think the responsibility is on the brand to use the data in a responsible way."
Elastic Path is a company that offers the kind of software to obtain such data. The technology Elastic Path provides works with store loyalty apps as well as beacons that can be found inside the physical store. Beacons are utilized to reach the customers phone to grab data which is then sent of to the sales rep within the very same store.
Dion notes that “trust is the new currency,”saying that it’s important to not use the data provided to make the customer’s experience uncomfortable in any way. "The onus is not on technology, it's the people using the technology," Dion said.
One way for merchants to refrain from the creepiness factor is allowing customers to opt in to such a feature. This can prevent the customer from feeling violated in any way when a sales rep brings something in their size without asking what it is prior to doing so.
Macy’s has reportedly tested beacons in the San Francisco area as well as Manhattan during last year’s holiday season and indicated that they would expand the service to all physical stores nationwide. Michael Kors also revealed plans to experiment with the beacon technology in the London store next year'; Lord & Taylor also says they'll be utilizing the capability.
Lewis Paine, an expert on retail at GfK stated, “You'll suddenly see 10 major chains in every category will have implemented it." He also said that beacon technology is something that’s much easier to sell to millennials, who adopt the technology as long as it has a captivating approach. “People are willing to share their information if they think they are getting something back in return," Paine said.
Dion weighed in on the possible future of retai, noting that customers might be able make a purchase via their smartwatch and can utilize "intelligent mirrors" in dressing rooms which could possibly hold the ability to take of photo of the shopper so they can remember previous looks.
Dion also noted, "But again, a mirror and cameras in changing rooms, that's got a huge potential for abuse and crossing the creepy line."