Why all we want for Christmas is consumer insight

The festive lights are up on Oxford Street and Selfridges has unveiled a sequin-adorned Father Christmas window display. It can only mean one thing – the biggest shopping period of the year has begun.

Research from QVC predicts Londoners will spend almost £530 each on Christmas goods this year.

At a time when consumers are ready and willing to part with their hard-earned cash, retailers need to take every opportunity to deliver a relevant and engaging shopping experience. But with the complexity of the path to purchase increasing, this has never been more challenging.

Consumers are using an average of five connected devices as part of the journey from research to conversion – including PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, connected TVs and even wearables.

While this channel-hopping behaviour may give retail marketers a headache, it also generates a wealth of data signals. When used to deliver valuable location intelligence these data signals can help retailers gain a deeper understanding of Christmas shoppers and deliver a relevant, engaging experience full of yuletide cheer.

Location intelligence combines geospatial data from location data points such as smartphones, wearables, navigation providers, WiFi routers and beacons, with multiple sources of business information such as customer relationship management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) data.

It uses cartographic tools to reveal relationships between location data and consumer data, delivering immediately actionable insights that can be used to precisely target consumers at the right time via the most effective channel, and to personalise marketing messaging.

Location intelligence can assist retail marketers in several ways this Christmas:

Piecing together the consumer journey

By combining location data with multiple consumer data sources retailers can achieve a full picture of the consumer journey from research to purchase and beyond, which is essential at a time when shopping activity steps up a gear.

Linking location footprints from mobile devices with unique device identifiers allows retailers to fill in the gaps and connect online and offline activity to gain a deeper understanding of consumer needs and shopping behaviour.

Accurately attributing sales

The ability to trace consumers both on and off the digital map through location intelligence makes it far easier to accurately attribute conversions to specific marketing touchpoints.

For instance, when a consumer shops in store, retailers can determine whether they have previously been exposed to digital marketing tactics such as display or video advertising, ensuring Christmas campaigns are measured effectively.

The insights gained from attribution allow retailers to adjust and optimise their campaigns in real time to achieve the highest levels of marketing efficiency and performance during the peak shopping weeks.

Identifying vital shopping moments

Purchase decisions come thick and fast during the festive period, from deciding whether to buy turkey or beef for Christmas dinner to face cream or perfume for the mother-in-law.

Location intelligence helps retailers identify those vital moments when consumers are looking for something specific or have made their decision and are ready to buy, and allows them to deliver the most relevant messaging to meet the individual’s unique needs.

This includes targeting consumers who are at competitor stores and intending to make a purchase, potentially luring them away with a discount or special offer.

Analysing competitor footfall

As well as gaining an insight into visitors to their own stores, retail marketers can use location intelligence to monitor other shopping locations and develop an understanding of what their competitors are doing.

Assumptions become a thing of the past when retailers can compare their competitors’ footfall data with their own to see who is leading the charge.

Retailers can even use location intelligence to discover what is engaging competitors’ consumers and use this knowledge to enhance their own seasonal offering.

Maximising the merchandising mix

Location intelligence allows retailers to understand who is buying what, when and where, and to make merchandising decisions in real-time to ensure they are making the most of current trends.

This is particularly useful on specific festive shopping days such as Black Friday – which falls on 25 November this year – when the in-store merchandising mix has a huge impact on retail success and real-time adjustments can make all the difference.

A successful festive shopping season can significantly boost a retailer’s annual profits, so leveraging new technologies to improve consumer engagement and enhance the shopping experience at this time of year is vital.

With its ability to combine geographical and consumer data to reveal valuable, real-time actionable insights, location intelligence should be top of every retail marketers’ wish list this Christmas.

Also published in Marketing Tech News.