There was a day when retailers considered online and offline as separate channels. Brands introduced over the past 15 years, such as cosmetics brand Carolís Daughter, developed an online presence with the experience considered as a distinct strategy from the physical store. Today the desire to view a customerís interest from mobile website to cash register has driven the latest digital brands like Warby Parker and Rent the Runway to augment their digital properties with a few physical stores.
If you doubt the marketplace value of a blended online/physical space, consider Walmartís recent purchase of Jet.com, not just as a strategic play against Amazon but as a strategic play to keep Jet from building a physical presence of its own.
Yet this blend, an intriguing twist on the e-commerce/physical store lore, is not without peril. Combining experiences now means a greater number of ways to increase legal risks with the support technology. The risks are ones that can cripple a businessís image with its customers or even put it out of business.
Customers who have been accustomed to e-commerce practices for the past 10 years have a different expectation of privacy than people who shop in brick-and-mortar stores. They are used to reminders and being tracked for the convenience of being alerted to an upcoming sale.
But there are shoppers who are more introverted in manner, accustomed to browsing products with salesperson intervention only for brief product or service questions. These customers prefer to go into a store, armed with their own product research and the desire to shop quickly and relatively undisturbed.
As the analytics trend to combine online and offline experiences into a cohesive view of a customer continues to grow, retailers must apply different strategies for providing privacy protection where analytic strategies are involved.
"For privacy policies, it is not the breach thatís the source of the complaint,Ē Saper explained. ďItís the idea that you did not do enough to protect the consumerís information. You need to disclose what you plan to do with that information. If that changes you need to notify your customers of that change.Ē You can view the video of Saperís WindyCityThings presentation to learn of other legal concerns that can impact app and IoT device development. Overall, retailers must be vigilant in choosing customer protections that match up to internal capability.
Analytics can lead the way in management of some of these liabilities. One way analytics can influence is to encourage data mining and cleaning techniques such as tidy data. A framework first coined by programmer Hadley Wickham in his whitepaper, tidy data is meant to map a dataset's meaning to its structure. This technique reveals missing data and eliminates potential data errors that can influence advanced analytics or other data-driven projects.
Another analytic influence is use of reporting solutions that make data sources more easily identifiable from real-world experiences. Take geofencing, the filtering of traffic under known IP addresses. Geofencing is useful for web-rooming and showrooming, but it is permits better analysis of customer activity in a retail space and link customer preferences in-store to data collected in-store.
If you are planning website and app development, you should also vet how your apps and website elements support your privacy collection. That means having privacy policies easy to view on a page or within an app -- a benefit analytic solutions provide, since they have already been used for improving site elements in general.
One critical aside in analytic vetting is that you must be aware that third partiesí can thwart planned privacy protection by how they introduce changes to site or app functionality. Take an example from Fred Benenson, former vice president of data at Kickstarter and author of Emoji Dick & How to Speak Emoji. In his post Benenson questions a recent experience in which website visitors were automatically signed up for email through browsing rather than receiving a signup request that would allow an opt out for the user.
Over the years analytics has become less renown as a tool for auditing online traffic, and more of a tool for auditing behavioral outcomes associated with the technology. The volume of technological innovations has outpaced the number of laws that govern those behavioral outcomes. This means retailers must maintain as strong a vigil of how customer protections are applied as they do for ROIs from a marketing campaign.