The question of how brands can gather actionable insights from customer data is an important one in the current customer loyalty landscape. Disruptive technologies have made gaining an edge on competitors difficult, but also necessary.
Spring Marketplace offers a platform to connect brands’ digital environments with their offline sales. The company’s platform plugs into the payment ecosystem of American Express, Visa, and MasterCard to enable brands to create promotions that connect to consumer spend behavior. This could mean, for example, converting an online ad impression to an instore visit.
Rich data provides an opportunity to gain that edge, but again, brands need to be able to not just collect data, but to know what to do with it.
Jonathan Dyke, co-founder and chief operating officer at Spring Marketplace, sat down with Loyalty360 to discuss the data issue.
“Data is rich in the online environment,” says Dyke. “But when you’re offline, you lose the scent. You can’t see if your online customer is shopping offline in your stores. We use payment networks to understand what people are doing in the offline world. This is how we bring the online and the offline world together, using payments data.”
Dyke says that this improves customer loyalty. “For most of the folks we talk to, it’s about incremental revenue lift. Ultimately, that’s what you’re trying to get to while you’re creating a valuable brand experience. One of the challenges, though, is the ability to manage your online customer. You know a lot about them, you see purchases, clickstreams, but when those customers go into the physical world you don’t really know what they’re doing. We set out to solve that problem by connecting those two environments. Ultimately, loyalty comes around to optimizing channel mix.” 
Dyke recognizes, however, that securing customer loyalty with data is not an easy task. “The first step,” he says, “is having a very clean profile of your customer. Retailers have this data challenge of multiple profiles, and they don’t really know who the end customer is all the time. So, having one unified profile allows retailers to see the online spend, the instore spend, plus spend beyond their own storefront.”
He adds, “This is especially valuable for portfolio brands that have five or six brands under one holding company. It can help them see the shop across their brands. Gap, for example, can see big athletic customers standing outside, not going in, which is a missed opportunity. So, I’d say the unified customer profile is step one.”
“Step two,” he continues, “is to create a cohesive online to offline experience. If the customer can buy something online and then go into the store and pay with one of their cards on file and then get a thank you note from the brand, perhaps a survey, and get an incentive to go back online, then that creates a pretty special customer experience.”  
Furthermore, Dyke remains optimistic about the future of brick-and-mortar retailers. “I think that shopping malls, physical places, are evolving to disruption very quickly. Getting food and beverage in. Getting entertainment in. Services like gyms. In some cases, hotels can anchor the environment. Doctor’s offices, and so on. So, the physical environment is just a marketplace, it’s convenient for people to go to. What they’re trying to do is make it even more convenient, offer selections to get you in on a regular basis. For example, maybe the customer can take Uber to the mall so he doesn’t have to worry about parking.”
He does believe that brick-and-mortar retailers need to consider the online aspect, however. “Use payments data, in whatever form you can get it, as part of your marketing strategy,” he advises. “People laugh off the old saying, ‘I know 50 percent of my marketing strategy works. I just don’t know which 50 percent.’ I think retailers should take this as a personal insult and say, ‘Look, let’s figure out the attribution. Let’s figure out the ROI.’ Using payments data is so powerful in driving operational benefits for brands. Demand more of your partners and try to get to payment-informed marketing solutions. This will give you better instruments to fly the plane.”   

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