The customer is always right: Smart data becoming key to new customer-retailer relationship

Jörn Leogrande, Wirecard

From buying a new pair of hiking boots for an upcoming vacation to ordering pizza on a Friday night, today’s customer has endless options. The question, however, is evolving to include: where can I use my points card? Which company sent me a coupon via personal text message? Who will send me a free sample of perfume with my order?

Today’s retail business is increasingly about perks. But it’s happening per the customer’s request. And it has everything to do with Smart Data.

Every retailer knows: The customer is always right – an age-old adage that has been key for any business. Then came Big Data with the customer honed in on as the hunted treasure, just waiting to be plundered for all its wealth.

But today, the key to success in the fast-paced business of retail is Smart Data. Not just a plethora of information that is in itself useless, but instead, Data that actively works for the retailer and ultimately for the customer. It’s gathered in ways that are automated and fed right back into the retail process via touchpoints set up by the retailer.

The key, however, is not to go for the one-time deal, but rather, to feed the customer. An enhanced shopping experience and customer satisfaction is paramount to a continued relationship in a crowded field of choices and attractions.


What is Smart Data in a customer-centric context?

In today’s business field, Big Data has to become Smart Data.

It’s no longer about quantity of information but quality of information. Mountains of statistics on the state of the market and customer habits are no help if it does not apply directly to the chain of sale for a particular retailer. The abundance of information has to be interpreted, sorted, refined, and applied.

Repeat customers are the holy grail of information. The dealer has succeeded in convincing the customer to prefer their brand. Shoppers are convinced to return based on the convenience, ease, and availability of their experience. A relevant and easy-to-use payment system, promotional strategies, and couponing programs focus on the customer’s wants. Product availability ensures that the customer gets what they want when they want it.

When the customer returns, it is obvious that the dealer has succeeded in discovering the what and how of that customer. Now the customer’s actions can be analyzed in order to continue to target behavior that will lead to a stronger customer-retailer relationship. Smart Data thus takes data that has proven to be in some way successful and feeds it back into the system in order to create more promotions, pricing, rewards, discounts, and ultimately loyalty.


But where does the customer come into all this? Personalize it!

Numbers from a recent Statista study show that customers are willing to cooperate in the collection of data if it will enhance their shopping experience.

71% of customers will gladly hand over their personal preferences allowing retailers to streamline the shopping experience for that customer – creating promotions that fulfill wants and needs and reeling in that customer for repeated business.

But don’t get too personal: less than 40% of customers feel comfortable sharing their contact information or marital status. Smart Data collects what needs to be collected in order to give the customer a secure feeling in the customer-retailer relationship without jeopardizing it by crossing private boundaries.

A personalized relationship pays. 66% of customers are more likely to act upon a personalized offer than a generic one. 77% of customers actually want to receive personalized offers. The customer wants to feel understood and they will pay for that understanding with their time and business.

It’s simply not enough to provide a physical good to a customer – the product or service is linked to a multi-faceted system between the customer and retailer. This system encompasses mobile devices, social media, print campaigns, newsletters, physical stores, online websites, and so on. They also encompass multiple points in time: browsing, point-of-sale, distribution, etc.


Make the most of touchpoints

Smart Data is vital in personalizing a retailer’s touchpoints. Success means that all customer-retailer touchpoints have to be optimized for the customer. The customer is always right! There is no longer a sole focus on the act of buying a product or service. The process has radiated outward to incorporate the pre and post shopping experience as equally important for the sustainability of the customer-retailer relationship.

How to reel in a customer has been discussed endlessly but how to use Smart Data in order to retain the customer is the next hurdle. 62% of retailers are using previous shopping information from their customers to make recommendations for future purchases. 67% are giving rewards to customers for referring a friend.

81% reward their customers for shopping. 62% are crossing over into other platforms by rewarding customers for sharing information on social media. The message is clear. All of these post-purchase touchpoints obviously encourage loyalty and the incentive to return. They create another layer of personalization – a win-win.

It might seem childish on paper: the customer is thrown treats for their loyalty. But who says that a little Pavlov isn’t enjoyable. A third of customers openly admit that loyalty and couponing programs drive their choice of retailer. It’s no longer about providing the customer with what they want and they will buy it.

Instead, it’s about providing the customer with the entire system of services they want and they will return. Optimized touchpoints serve to strengthen the customer-retailer relationship and prolong its viability, thus increasing profitability.


What’s a retailer to do?

Today’s retailers have to hone their Smart Data skills, focusing on all aspects of their relationship to the customer. It’s no longer about the simple act of buying, it’s about maintaining and sustaining at every point of contact whether it is before, during, or after purchase.

Enhancing the customer experience will increase profit margins for the retailer. Retailers have to be proactive about the kind of information they are gathering and how to best reincorporate it into actions that will best benefit the customer. What’s good for the customer is also good for the retailer because let’s not forget: the customer is always right.


Jörn Leogrande is Executive Vice President Mobile Services at Wirecard AG (, a global leader in online payment technology for all sales channels. In this capacity, one of his key responsibilities is product innovation. Jörn worked in marketing before coming to Munich-based Wirecard AG in 2004, where he was appointed Head of Marketing in 2008. He also assumed responsibility for innovation management at the payment processing specialists in 2011. Now, as Executive Vice President Mobile Services, Leogrande is responsible for developments in the field of value added services, from loyalty points and couponing to NFC payments and mobile apps. Products such as mobile card readers (mPOS) also come within his remit.

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