Use Data to Add Value, Not Alarm Customers

Posted · Add Comment

There’s a fine line marketers must walk when providing a customized experience for visitors on an ecommerce website. Too much customization and you may annoy visitors (or worse). Too little customization and you’re leaving a lot of potential profit on the table.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Coral Gables, Florida, to speak on a panel at the IBM Smarter Planet Executive Conference. While I was there, I was able to attend a number of other sessions, and many of them touched on this issue. Where’s the line between creepy and cool when it comes to commerce?

It’s not just online retailers facing this question. Some brick and mortar stores have faced customer backlash after admitting to tracking shoppers’ movements in-store by monitoring signals from customers’ mobile devices.

So how does a conscientious retailer use technology to increase profitability without alienating customers?

Smarter Data Usage, Better Results

Cookies, referring websites and search terms can only tell you so much about a visitor to your website. And the less you know the more likely your assumptions will miss the mark. For example, if I am browsing Babies ‘R Us for a gift prior to coming to your website, I may be annoyed when your site offers me discounts on prenatal vitamins. The key is to find ways to use this information to increase profitability without turning customers away.

That means finding ways to leverage the data you have in a way that doesn’t raise concerns and adds value for the consumer. What retailers need is a way to offer just the right product, at just the right price, at just the right time—during the checkout process.

By concentrating on optimizing the checkout process, the Fusion team is able to use data actively provided by the customer to offer them complementary products that fit their needs better and provide higher profit margins for retailers. If we know you’ve booked a seven-day trip to Orlando in spring for four people, two of whom are under 18, we may offer you a discounted family pass to Walt Disney World. As we’ve already shown, the higher margins of ancillary products can help fund investments in mobile usability improvements.

Coupled with a world-class testing platform and methodology, which I’ll cover more closely in a future post, Purchase Point Optimization (PPO) leverages what we know about your customers to delight them, not drive them away.

– Meghan Gemmill