E-commerce retailers have many advantages and tools at their disposal. They are able to have a closer relationship with their customer by seeing their purchasing habits; this allows them to create personalized offers for those customers to encourage them to spend even more. On the other hand, brick-and-mortar retailers know very little in comparison. A customer comes in, purchases an item(s), pays and then leaves. What does the retailer know of their habits and preferences? The answer is very little.
If Index, a San Francisco-based company, has anything to do with it, changes are on the horizon. Index hopes to offer brick-and-mortar retailers a tool that will help them better personalize the shopping experience of their customers. Two former Google Inc. executives, Jonathan Wall, Index chief technology officer, and Marc Freed-Finnegan, chief executive, are the founders of Index. They have created this new service to capture the customer’s payment card data through the consent of that customer in order to send them personalized offers.
In an article by Kevin Woodward of Digital Transaction, Woodward quotes Freed-Finnegan as he explains further how this service operates, “With Index, payment card data are captured at the transaction and turned into a token that Index uses to associate subsequent purchases to generate personalized product recommendations. These recommendations then can appear in a variety of locations, such as on receipts, email, social-media accounts, or in online display ads. The consumer also can save offers for redemption in stores.”
The biggest thing that retailers need to know is what their consumers desire, need, and want so that they can cater to them. According to the article by Woodward, “When retailers were asked in a Retail Systems Research report released last year to rank the primary role of digital selling channels, 25% said it was to provide the consumer “everything you need to know to buy” products and services. In 2012, the figure was 14%.”
One concern about this tool is that retailers need to obtain all information about how Index’s services work. They need to have clear opt-in rules and an excellent understanding of how the data will be stored. As the founders of Index launch their new services, it will be interesting to see how quickly brick-and-mortar retailers grasp onto this new tool and run with it. According to Woodward’s article, “The company [Index] is focusing on the top 100 retailers. The service is available now.”