News Feature | January 17, 2014

Consumers More Willing To Open Up To Retailers, Study Finds

By Anna Rose Welch, contributing writer

Mobile Shopping

IBM finds consumers are willing to share more if it results in better deals

Retailers looking to reach out to customers with more personalized deals have good news in a new IBM Study. After surveying 30,000 global consumers, IBM has found that consumers will open up to retailers and provide some personal data, especially if they’re going to get some value from it.

What are consumers are more willing to share? Nearly 36 percent of customers saying they’d be willing to provide a retailer with their current location via GPS. This percentage has nearly doubled year over year, which should make some sense, considering more people are turning to their smartphones to browse for stores and even through a specific store’s inventory/aisle. The increasing demand for omni-channel has retailers taking some pretty impressive leaps to amp up or offer mobile apps/websites that enable customers to find items in stores closest to them or pick-up items ordered online in nearby stores. In even more recent news, the rollout of the iBeacons in Giant Eagle and Safeway stores suggests that opt-in customers are more willing to allow a retailer to track their location through the store in order to receive deals for items that are only a foot in front of them.

Not only are customers growing more willing to share location, the study also reveals that 38 percent of consumers would provide their mobile number in order to receive text messages. It seems some retailers have already begun to tap into this knowledge, especially over the most recent holiday season when part of retailers’ strategies involved sending deals via SMS. Retailer H&M, for example, started to make headway early in December with its SMS outreach — though, its outreach also gathered customers email addresses in addition to mobile numbers. Associates passed out print calls to action, encouraging customers to sign up for the retailer’s email list via SMS. Following the text message, customers were urged to reply via email, signing them up simultaneously to receive H&M deals via SMS and email.

Connectivity Without Limits

It should also come as no surprise that, as it becomes more organic to interact with favorite retailers/brands via social media, consumers would be more willing to include their social handles in this information in order to receive a good deal. IBM’s study found that 32 percent of customers would share their social handle with retailers.

In response to these results, IBM’s retail global industry leader Jill Puleri urges retailers to keep up with consumers’ demands for a more personalized shopping experience by investing in Big Data and analytics. Puleri says, “Today’s consumer has been conditioned by multiple industries — from healthcare to travel — to expect personalized interactions across different channels. IBM’s study shows consumers are willing to share details about themselves, particularly if they receive a personalized experience in return. It’s imperative that retailers enact a Big Data and analytics strategy that ensures they use consumer information wisely, gaining their customers’ trust and loyalty by providing value in exchange.” In doing so, retailers will best be able to meet what IBM has identified as consumers’ five most important expectations: price and product assortment consistency across all channels; the ability to have out-of stock store items shipped; the option of tracking an order’s status; and the ability to return online purchases in the store.

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