How To Collect In-Store Customer Data in a Transparent Manner

Posted by on Oct 22, 2015 in Customer Identification, Retail

In-store data collection is becoming an increasingly important component of a retailer’s omnichannel strategy. It provides customers a more personalized shopping experience, gives sales staff the ability to build invaluable shopper profiles, and allows retailers to implement the in-store analytics they need to identify customers and increase sales. As online and offline experiences continue to blend, retail marketers need to become aware of the importance of in-store data collection and how the customer responds to what is being asked by the retailer.

When done correctly, data collection has the ability to change the way retailers and customers interact. Customers receive exceptional experiences tailored to their habits; sales staff build meaningful relationships and receive attribution for their work; retailers identify customers and learn the best ways to re-engage them to increase sales. Everyone wins when the value of the data to the retailer is equivalent to the value a customer receives while shopping.

One of the founding principles of CloudTags’ business is a commitment to transparency. When a shopper begins a CloudTags experience in a store, they know that the tablet is collecting data. However, data collection can be a sensitive topic, especially as more advanced technologies emerge that bring data tracking to the physical world. In fact, a study by Altimeter earlier this year found that 60% of those surveyed said they are uncomfortable with how their data is sold or shared in public spaces, even if they’ve opted-in.

In-store data collection is essential in today’s retail landscape, but how can retailers combat fears of data tracking and maintain the trust of their customers? Here are three concepts that retailers should always exercise.

Give the Customer Full Transparency Into What is Being Collected

Shoppers need to know that their data is being tracked and how that data is intended to be used. This information must be overt and non-invasive. When a potential customer enters a store that employs data-tracking mechanics, they should be greeted with information that tells them what technologies are in action and what types of data are being gathered.

The best way to do this is to notify shoppers directly and instantly when data is being collected. Notifying shoppers that their data is being collected and the intent behind its use must be integral to the data collection process. Notifications can happen in a variety of ways — via email, pop-ups, push notifications, etc — but the key is making them available and accessible to the average shopper, not couched in long, jargony terms & conditions.

Ensure Opt-In Methods Are Not Invasive to the Customer Experience

Shoppers need to know that they’re data remains anonymous unless they choose to identify themselves. This means not requiring the customer to identify themselves until the end of the experience and making it optional at the end. They should be assured that the collected information remains anonymous unless the shopper opts in to identifying themselves. This ensures that the shopper is able to make a decision based on their experience instead of it acting as a barrier between them.

The best way to do this is through email collection at the end of the experience. Shoppers should be informed that by providing their email, the data that’s been gathered will be attributed to them and used to personalize their experiences in the future.

Bring Value to the Customer First Before Asking for Customer Information

Shoppers need to receive a valuable in-store experience before retailer requires or requests anything from them. According to a recent IBM study, 64% of shoppers say they are willing to share email contact information with a trusted retailer. When a certain level of trust is placed between the shopper and retailer, the shopper should receive some measurable value in return for opting in, whether that be monetary or in other forms (such as time or convenience). This also ensures that every shopper receives the same great experience, regardless of their inclination to identify their data.

The best way to do this is to follow these concepts in order: be upfront about data collection and its intended use, provide a stellar in-store experience that adds value to the experience, and only ask for identifying information at the end. Data collection can provide a multitude of benefits for retailers and shoppers alike, but it requires a sense of trust and that trust can easily be broken when not properly implemented.

For more, download the Customer Identification Playbook.