By: Carolina LaFuente
If you go on Google today and type your name, images of you can show up as well as your different social media platforms. With an instant search, others can figure out what city you live in, that you changed your hair two weeks ago and that your brother Elliot is getting married to Samantha in the Spring.
Just like this, online retailers can also find out about their customers without even having to do any of the research themselves. Technology has provided us with data gathering tools that can track consumer behavior online and catch repeated actions that form into trends. Have you ever gotten an email from a store where you’ve shopped before and it happens include a message about an item you’ve had your eye on…and it’s on sale?
Customers are more likely to visit your website when they know you’ll have something they’re interested in, whether they saw it in an email, and social media ad or an online ad while on a different website.
With sponsored content growing on social media, as a business, one can specifically target whose page to show the content on based on previous pages they’ve visited. The same goes for online ads on other websites. By tracking consumer behavior online based on what other stores customers shop at, what they click on while they’re on your website and what social media pages they follow, one can cater to them more successfully because they will feel your brand relates to them.
By collecting data about customers it is also easy to anticipate customers’ needs so that the product they are looking for is always in stock. As Bridge Mellichamp of Stitchlabs puts it, “Using data to understand how a customer thinks extends beyond service and logistics. From anticipating customer needs to testing and personalizing communications, successful retailers are using data to make more informed business decisions.”
Tracking online shopping data from customers also helps facilitate the shopping experience in terms of navigation for customers. By testing out different website layouts, online retailers can learn about which one works best for their customer. Office Depot for example, contains a side bar online not only welcoming the customer by name but by also suggesting items related to previous purchases. They tested out the suggested items section as a pop up that had to clicked on and then as an open side toolbar that displays the suggested items automatically. Office Depot found out that customers bought items more often from the version of the side bar that contained the automatically visible display of suggested items. Customers in this case did not have to take any extra steps either to find what they were looking for.
While online shopping may lose the physical connection between customer and company because of a computer, phone, or tablet screen, it doesn’t mean the entire shopping experience can’t be just as personal as walking into a store and speaking with a sales associate. By tracking consumer behavior online, you can get to know your customers just as well as the regular ones that walk into a store. The sites themselves can be personalized to ease the experience and future purchases can be anticipated by previous search history on the website. Personal emails can be sent to customers inviting them to in-store events and you can even then thank them by sending a coupon for a necklace since they recently purchased a ring from the same collection. Customers remain loyal to brands that get them simply because they know they can count on you to find something they need and will like. It’s not creepy, it’s smart business. Make your customers your crush, just be careful not to accidentally like that photo from 5 months ago on their Instagram.