Data Just Ain’t Enough, Folks

As me emerge slowly from the last recession, retailers are fixating on the “data.” They ask, “How can retailers leverage their in-store customer data for online purchase and preference sharing?” They want t know how in-store data can translate into a greater share of wallet and a greater share of preference? Completely understandable.  The problem is that it oversimplifies the shopping process, reducing how, where and why people shop to a series or series of numbers and gross assumptions about what those numbers mean. IN OTHER WORDS, THEY DON’T CONECT THE DOTS.  Or more accurately, they don’t connect the dots correctly.

If a retailer wants to get past reifying numbers and making assumptions that lead to wasted money, space and time they need to rethink the figures they have and start to contextualize the shopping process. They can recognize that a single purchase in store is part of a complex system of behavior that can translate into unique partnerships, product offerings and promotions that can be adapted to contexts that they may have never considered. Perhaps it makes sense to provide QR codes at a concert.  Perhaps it makes sense for location-based specials and promotions. The point is that the data gleaned from the in-store purchase and the online purchase signal things about each other.

Again, the line between the in-store and out-of-store experience is blurred for consumers and shoppers.  The statistics we gather are useful, to be sure, but they reflect only a single element of why people shop. And if you understand the “what” but not the “why” then you have lost THE opportunity. If you understand the motivations for being in the store and in the greater shopping milieu, that information can be used to tailor digital messages, retail design promotional offerings, etc. that fit the context of the people you want to engage.

Published by gavinjohnston67

Take an ex-chef who’s now a full-fledge anthropologist and set him free to conduct qualitative research, ethnography, brand positioning, strategy and sociolinguistics studies and you have Gavin. He is committed to understand design and business problems by looking at them through an anthropological lens. He believes deeply in turning research findings into actionable results that provide solid business strategies and design ideas. It's not an insight until you do something with it. With over 18 years of experience in strategy, research, and communications, he has done research worldwide for a diverse set of clients within retail, legal, banking, automotive, telecommunications, health care and consumer products industries.

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