Finally! An Eye-in-the-Sky for Online Retailers

Blind analytics and gut intuition, although not proven accurate or effective, are what the majority of online retailers rely on when it comes to marketing products to their shoppers. But, in an economy where 60 percent of shoppers expect to spend more money online in 2012 than they did last year*, not having the ability to observe shoppers’ behaviors in real time will be one of the major disadvantages that retailers face this year.

Until recently, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have had the upper hand when it comes to being able to observe their shoppers’ patterns and then incorporate strategic changes to influence those behaviors. With eye-in-the-sky security cameras, retailers have been able to watch customers move through the store physically, observing foot traffic patterns, response to product displays, and when and where customers are abandoning products after initially deciding to add them to their shopping cart.

But, having information and using it are two different things. Once a retailer has discovered exactly who their shoppers are and what motivates them to purchase, they then must be quick to move on a marketing strategy. Offering the right product, through the right medium, at the right time, is essential when attempting to modify shoppers’ behaviors.

Retargeting companies are creating new behavioral commerce technologies that afford online retailers not only the opportunity to watch their shoppers’ behaviors in real time, but also the chance to influence their onsite click path behavior. These new real-time marketing platforms provide online retailers with observational capabilities that brick-and-mortar stores currently have plus offer the ability to act on the data gathered and alter marketing strategies instantly.

Once a retailer is able to segment shoppers into personality-based categories, they can begin a one-on-one dialogue that incorporates unique messaging geared toward those specific audience segments.

In “The State of Online Shopping 2012” survey, commissioned by my colleagues, shoppers revealed that when viewed online, offers of “free shipping” followed by “real-time discounts” and “discounts based on past purchases” would be the main influencers in whether they spend more money online in 2012.

Online shopping is changing the way consumers think and the way they spend. Moving forward, online retailers will have the opportunity to reduce their reliance on guess work, and begin employing data-driven marketing decisions just like their brick-and-mortar counterparts. That’s great news for online retailers who choose to use all of the new retargeting and real-time marketing tools that are available today.


*Source: “The State of Online Shopping 2012,” survey conducted for SteelHouse by uSamp SurveyBuilder.

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