As we wind down the first quarter of 2015, the discussion around data continues to grow in volume and especially in 2015, productizing data becomes more and more significant in marketing. The importance of turning data into actionable insights for marketers is also undeniable. According to AdWeek, WPP’s media agency Mindshare launched The Loop in 2013. With the help of this real-time marketing hub, marketers can glean insights relevant to their client partners by processing over 100 data streams.
No matter in which industry, collecting data and turning it into insights is of the same importance. For example, one of the world’s largest mall operators—Westfield is trying hard to keep the pace of cultural and technological changes and to deal with the data. They are exploring services that incorporate both physical and digital worlds to further learn and engage customers. Virtually, they are testing not only WiFi and beacons, but also 4G technology, Bluetooth as well as social platforms like Snapchat to glean customers data.
In taking all these high-tech measures, mall operators are gaining access to a mass of data which offer insights on mall-goers shopping habits. At the meantime, they utilize those data to enhance their advertising and traffic monitoring process. Free WiFi, for example, is good way to collect customers’ basic information like email address, age, ZIP code or even shopping preference upon log-in. If not, search histories complementarily provide a snapshot of shopping habits and preference. In addition, free WiFi also helps mall owners collect consumers’ behavioral information, such as how frequently they visit or which area they visit most. It is also an effective way to monitor traffic.
But there are limitations of applying WiFi because of the difficulty to distinguishing between visitors and mall employees who use the network without shopping. Privacy is another major issue. According to Ms. Kaminkow: “Privacy is of utmost importance. We’re getting the data … but we’re still in the early days of being able to get true value from that.” Under this circumstance, third-parties like StepsAway are bridging the gap by turning the data into useful actionable insights and helping retailers act on the information collected. Mall owners and national retailers like Express and Sephora make use of the WiFi network to offer deals. Users open their browsers to get organized by categories such as women’s, men’s and kids or by store and more alluring thing is to gain promotions. Besides, mall apps incorporate other tools like interactive maps, giving step-by-step directions which designed to particularly encourage the download.
Data gathering is only one part of the equation and another great challenge and opportunity is mall owners and retailers’ ability to seamlessly share those data. If operators know a guest who purchased something for in-store pickup when entering the mall, they can guide them to the nearest parking spot and remind retailer to prepare the item. If the visitor is a loyal customer, he/she can be greeted by a personal shopper. Even though mall operators are just beginning to negotiate with retailers on sharing data, once that gateway is opened, there will be more likely to engage with retailers and shoppers at a deeper level.