Consumers are becoming every day more and more privacy-sensitive and are worried about how their personal information is treated; at the same time, Retailers are gathering more and more information about Shoppers – online, offline (in-store), through loyalty-cards, etc.
Something VERY bad can easily happen – I’m going to describe five issues we always need to think about:
Selling Shoppers’ personal information to mass marketing companies
As a matter of fact, selling our Customers’ personal info to mass marketing companies is a terrible idea, even when we make a lot of money out of it.
Why? Because 100% customers consider it a betrayal – they provide their data exclusively to help us offer them a better service, and that’s it.
My point is, never, ever sell our Shoppers’ personal info – we can be absolutely sure that they will find out, somehow; on the contrary, let’s show them how trustworthy we are (for instance, how we take care of their personal information – see also Issue #5) and – while we are at it – how we tangibly offer them a better service and an improved shopping-experience based on the information they trust us with.
Employing “Big Brother” analytics
Inferring insights about our Customers using advanced, “artificial-intelligent” algorithm can prove to be dangerously Orwellian.
If you infer that a Customer is, for example, pregnant (…her shopping-history shows that her diet bizarrely changed in the last few months…), please avoid sending her mountains of discount-coupons for feeding-bottles and baby milk, she could get very upset.
By the way, I didn’t make up my pregnancy example: something like it really happened.
Making “opt-out” difficult
Let’s do our best to make it quick and simple for our Customers to remove their personal information from our data-bases (technically this is an “opt-out”).
Considering that online opt-out is typically just a matter of clicking on some “unsubscribe” link/button, offline opt-out (in-store, on the phone with some call-center agent, etc.) should be at least as quick and simple.
Offering irrelevant promotions
Again, let’s do whatever it takes not to exasperate our Customers by offering them promotions that are manifestly not pertinent – for instance, I’m a man, therefore sending me promos about tampons is absolutely pointless… …and a little bit annoying.
We have everything we need (data, algorithms and powerful computers) to segment our Customers properly.
Protecting Shoppers’ personal info
Last but absolutely not least, we MUST never, ever let hackers steal our Customers’ personal information; data-security is very, very important and CEOs have been fired – I’m not kidding – for data-security breaches.
Therefore, we must never underestimate data-security: it’s expensive, it’s time-consuming, but it is essential.
Andy Cavallini – http://retaildom.com
PS: a couple of final, common sense, basic considerations to avoid a lot of trouble:
- treat your customers’ personal information with care and respect
- be transparent and tell your Customers in simple terms what you do with their personal info and why