NRF16: Wrangling data will rope in digital engagement in retail

Feb. 23, 2016
NRF16: Wrangling data will rope in digital engagement in retail

By Lyle Bunn, Principal, BUNN Co.

Unlocking the power of data is a key, ongoing direction for retailers who are wrestling with data overload, in particular, as communications devices and their interoperability in the customer experience evolve rapidly.

"Information overload has been an issue for centuries," noted Christopher Collins, assistant professor and Computer Science Canada Research Chair in Linguistic Information Visualization at the University of Ontario, adding, "but human beings and businesses see the opportunity inherent in better using information as a resource and asset."

Retailers and brands have to create the story, tell the story and sell the story to personalize the store and erase the lines between online and physical retail. A goal without a plan is just a wish, and a plan that does not include analytics is doomed.

During the National Retail Federation conference in January 2016, Andy Szanger of CDW presented his firm's Retail Innovation Report, which highlighted the challenge that retail is having related to data:

Credit: CDW Retail Innovation Report, 2015, p. 12.

"Disruption plus Innovation equals opportunity," said Steve Brown of Intel during NRF16, noting that, "The Insight kings will win as 'The Big Pivot' to data-driven communications and experience are refined."

In a session titled "The Marketing Measure Mandate," presented at NRF16 by Julie Krueger, retail industry director of Google Inc., and David Abbott, VP of integrated media and online marketing at The Home Depot, the speakers noted that key performance indicators have to align with intended outcomes as retailers welcome, inform, connect, sell, serve and reward for loyalty.

Measures of success can include:

  • Number or percentage of interactions;
  • Conversations, amplification, applause;
  • Indexed increase in brand awareness; and
  • Number or percentage of new site visits.

Engagement can be measured by click-through rate, watch time, page depth, per-visit goal value and the number or percentage of customers requesting assistance.

Sales indicators such as conversation rate, visitor loyalty, checkout abandonment and profit can lead to other engagement indicators such as repeat purchasers, likelihood to recommend and customer lifetime value.

Retailers say they want to impact the overall customer journey rather than in particular providing brand/merchant support. This reflects a shift in the emphasis on simply putting merchandize on the shelf and generating stock turns. As they struggle for relevance and survival, retailers believe that their success comes from customer experience.

Digital signage brings discovery, surprise, information, engagement, rest, reset, exploration, chance encounter and the possibilities of purchase.

Retail has been chasing digital as it has been evolving rapidly. In the meantime, customers have been signaling their new expectations and long- term trends. Information is powerful as it describes consumer behavior.

Lyle Bunn provides digital media industry analysis, education and counsel. He can be reached at

Topics: Audience Measurement, Content Management, Customer Experience, Retail, Trends / Statistics

Companies: Intel Corporation

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