Guest Column | September 24, 2015

Data Governance In Retail: Whose Data Is It Anyway?

By David Salisbury, VP of Sales and Marketing, Star Cloud Services

Data Governance In Retail

In a competitive industry like retail when making marketing decisions, intuition and gut instinct, have taken a back seat to Big Data. Big Data has become more than just a buzzword amongst marketers no matter the industry. In 2015, Big Data rules how commerce decisions are handled whether it is a small family business or fortune 500 company.

The demand for Big Data has increased exponentially as multichannel shopping experiences and mass adoption of consumer technology have become standard. Accessibility to shopper data by retail marketers is absolutely necessary to make better business decisions, but with increased interest comes the need for sensitivity and protection surrounding that data.

As more data becomes available, the debate of who owns the consumers information has brought the need for data governance to the forefront of everyone’s minds. Creating rules and regulations for data is imperative to making consumers feel more comfortable in that their information isn’t being misused while still allowing for retailers to benefit their business.

Data’s Use For Retailers

Nowadays almost any industry can benefit from data. Consumers now have so much power while shopping online or in store, industries such as retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG), insurance agencies, entertainment, and pharmaceutical companies have to rely heavily on data in order to stay competitive and attract and retain consumers.

Data is not only confined to large businesses or industries: smaller brick-and-mortar retailers should be continuously searching for ways to engage and excite their shoppers. Faced with competition from online retailers and sometimes even from more agile, larger brick-and-mortar stores, solutions can be easy to implement, low cost and produce a positive ROI.

According to a report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, retailers are prioritizing data and are collecting it from a wide variety of sources.

  • 72 percent of retailers are collecting and analyzing open data (e.g., government data)
  • 78 percent of retailers are collecting location based information (e.g., GPS, mobile logins)
  • 64 percent of retailers are gathering social media data (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)

By gathering information from multiple resources, retailers gain deeper insights that help them engage and retain shoppers, all while creating a seamless shopping experience for the customer. When used correctly, data gives retailers the ability to understand the ROI of a marketing campaign, know if the digital signage solution is delivering increased basket sizes, identify high-value customers, convert “just looking” shoppers into buyers, adjust assortments and store layouts — all the time measuring the level of success in real time.

Data’s Use For Consumers

While the advantages of Big Data are more obvious for retailers, consumers receive a world of benefits as well. Quality of customer service is a major determining factor for if customers continue to do business with certain companies. Thanks to online surveys, customer reviews on social media, and other online forums, retailers are able to analyze responses to adapt the way employees engage with customers. This leads to a happier overall customer experience and future return shopping trips.

One of the Big Data perks shoppers enjoy the most is all of the money saved. Big Data gives retail marketers the ability to offer customers targeted coupons and product discounts based on the products they have searched for or bought in the past. Whether the discount is offered in store during checkout, via social media, or on a website; Big Data connects consumers with discounts for the businesses and products they are most interested in.

As Big Data becomes more popular across industries, the need to protect and closely monitor consumer data is more important than ever. Data governance has many perks including improved information security Just as customer service builds trust and happiness between a consumer and retailer, data security and taking swift action when it’s compromised is just as important, if not more, to customers willingness to shop at a retailer.

Whose Data Is It Anyway?

In today’s Big Data economy consumer information is the chief currency. For consumers, it is their right that their private information be secured and protected from misuse. But, once a person decides to make a purchase from a retailer, his or her information becomes property of the retailer. It’s then up to the retailer to ensure that the data isn’t misused.

As they say, the numbers don’t lie. Shopper data belongs to both the retailer and consumer. Nobody else. Retailers that leverage Big Data are enabled to design products that are more targeted to consumers, can better forecast and act on changes to the market, and can engage consumers more effectively. Just like retailers, consumers ultimately reap the benefits from big data through their journey to find new shopping options, and the break to their wallet with targeted coupons and discount prices.