Last week, Facebook admitted that, during 2014, some the personal data of around 50 million users of the app, was shared with a data mining and analytics company, (against Facebook's terms of service). Mark Zucherberg subsequently issued a public apology via the media, including several US and UK broadsheets. With new data protection regulations coming in May, it's topical stuff, and once again, raises questions about the safety of our personal information. Crossover's Mark Hopkins reminds us of the forward steps we've taken.
The 1980s were great. Pat Sharp on the TV, Adam Ant on the radio and no one ever took photos of their food. The only data sharing I remember from those days, was when my best mate let slip to the whole school that I fancied that Debbie from number 23. (I didn't).
Back then, I was a flighty youth, eager to try out any new sport that came my way. After one heart-stopping night, watching Nick Faldo on the TV, I was hooked on golf and just had to get myself some clubs. Only problem was, I didn’t know where from, or how.
You see, although the 1980s were great for privacy, when it came to buying things, they were rubbish, and options were limited. You could break open that fantastically large yellow book, with a million businesses all shouting at you to phone them – but where did you even start?
Yes, people can see what I am doing, and what I like – but as long as I am in control, I reckon that’s a good thing.
In the end, it came down to closing my eyes and sticking a finger on a random advert. Of course, the phone conversation was stilted. They knew nothing about me, and I knew nothing about golf. The customer experience should have been exciting and personal, but was actually unproductive, and flat, and I ended up buying any old clubs from the shop nearest to me. They weren’t what I wanted, they didn’t aid my game, and I wouldn’t have gone back.
Thirty years later, and the world is at my fingertips. I can buy anything from anyone. Yes, people can see what I am doing, and what I like – but as long as I am in control, I reckon that’s a good thing.
Clearly, when it comes to privacy, there need to be lines in the sand. But I'm all for a personal buying experience, based on what I like and dislike, as long as my data is used properly and securely. A recent report from Deloitte agreed that consumers are enjoying an ever-increasing proliferation of choice, and this naturally leads to an elevated expectation for their shopping experience.
I'm all for a personal buying experience, based on what I like and dislike, as long as my data is used properly and securely.
As a retailer, we cannot hide from this fact, but we certainly shouldn’t be afraid. It just means we must adapt, and use the tools available to enhance the customer experience.
To Know Your Customer is to Know Your Business
Customer behavioural analysis is critical. We’re in a world where we shouldn’t be selling to strangers - we should be selling to customers. Get to know them, their habits, their likes and dislikes.
In the 1980s, this would have involved chatting to everyone who walked into your shop – and even then, you were more likely to discover who Mr Evans was taking to Bridge on Thursday, rather than what brand of shoes they might buy this year.
A world where you know what your customer likes or does not like, is a world where the retailer can make more informed decisions.
To know your customer really is to know your business.
Mark Hopkins is Crossover Technologies' Business Development Manager