Is Retail Monetizing the Wrong Thing?

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  • 7 April 2017
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Retail innovations were on full display at Seattle Business magazine’s RetailNexus forum in March, with business leaders from Blue Nile, REI, Sonos, Starbucks, Tommy Bahama and more sharing lessons learned from customer experiences around the world.

Technology, naturally, was on the table, from generational shopping differences to online customer support strategies to back-of-the-house systems in supply chain and logistics technologies, where panelists agreed some of the most transformative improvements will take place. Each of the companies was designing diversified shopping experiences tailored to the retail outlets its customers choose to shop, handing control over to the “power of wow,” and using data to improve customer interactions, not simply to increase the sale.

But one comment stuck with us more than anything else – that the increasing use of technology in retail is creepy, and has us feeling stalked.

The question is this: Are companies better off monetizing data, or monetizing trust? Put another way, is the focus on using the information we gather about our customers intended primarily to sell them more stuff – a purely transactional focus? Or are companies using data to learn more about the experiences their customers desire to build their trust first? The former may lead to quicker short-term revenue, but the latter may create more sustainable, responsible relationships.

Monetizing trust is one of the three mega-trends Revel identified that will impact the path, priorities and purpose for digital business transformation in the coming future.

Trust is the currency of the future. It eliminates friction in a customer’s decision to opt into new products and services. As you give customers flexibility over their information, you’ll gather vital data and feedback that leads to more personalization and new revenue opportunities. However, you must also take precautions to safeguard people’s data and ensure appropriate use, or you risk losing their trust forever.

When a customer is feeling stalked – by web-based sales promotions, chatbots, or other online innovations – it’s likely because the engagement they’ve experienced is business focused, not human centric. It’s a fine line, but an important one.

Fostering openness and transparency with customers, employees and partners helps companies earn greater trust, loyalty and profits. Overstepping leaves them feeling tracked. What type of experience are you creating for your customers?

Follow the link to learn more about Monetizing Trust, Omnichannel to Ubiquity, and Agile Everything, the converging megatrends that will shape the future of digital business.


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