CSC Smart Business UK Edition December - Present and correct
Present and correct
Linking CRM to location opens huge opportunities to target customers individually online and in person
Presence marketing associates what you know about customers or prospects to where they are presently located so you can turn lookers in to bookers, explains Rick Tomredle, Chief Technologist at CSC’s Logistics Centre of Excellence. Retail is driving the trend but other sectors will soon start to take advantage of the technology, he believes.
Q There is quite a buzz around presence marketing but what exactly is it and why should people be excited?
A It’s basically a marketing term to sum up what’s possible when, in the first instance, retail stores utilise customer information, gathered in store and online, to market to people as individuals when they next arrive at one of their stores.
If you think about going on Amazon, for example, if you’ve bought a book on the Franco-Prussian War in the past, the site will make all kinds of recommendations for you based on your love of history books and DVDs, and refine your interest profile as more information is gathered.
Now, if you can imagine using that data for marketing in a store, that’s presence marketing, what is sometimes referred to as “bricks and mobile”; the third wave of shopping experience is bringing the best of in store and on-line together.
Q How would a company be able to locate people and differentiate between them?
A Now that pretty much everyone has a smartphone, customers will likely have a device on them that can tell a retailer when they’re in or very close to one of their stores, or even in a particular department within their store. Every smartphone or tablet has a unique identifier and location can be determined using the device’s GPS or by using the WiFi signal to calculate location based on signal strength.
Q Sounds a little like Big Brother, are there privacy concerns?
A Any system that identifies a person’s location needs to be opt-in, so only people who actively chose to be located will have their position noted. The interesting thing is, experience shows us that while the ‘baby boomer’ generation may think twice, the younger ‘millenial’ generation, which has grown up with the internet and now smartphones are not so hung up on privacy. If there is a good reason for them to be tracked, if they get something out of it, they will willingly sign up.
Q So, what are the reasons why organisations should sign up to this?
A For the store, or for any company using presence marketing, the aim is to turn someone from a visitor in to a customer and so there are a number of things they can do to encourage people to opt-in.
An obvious one might be the provision of free Wi-Fi at their premises and that could come with some helpful services. If it were a shop, they could provide a map of the aisles so customers know where everything is. A supermarket might want to, for example, take your weekly shop and offer a schedule that guides the customer through the optimum route which ensures they don’t miss anything, even if it’s changed aisles.
There is also a huge opportunity for coupons and vouchers. Stores are using third party providers at the moment, as well as their own general offers. These can be a little scattergun and you end up offering everyone the same discount. With presence marketing you can detect someone’s position and then guide or encourage them to make a purchase you know they’re interested in. It might be something they’ve been researching on your web site or an item that goes with something they’ve already bought. If you can reach out to that person individually, you can tailor the offer or marketing message to them individually.
Q Coupons are fine, but can the technology go further?
A Absolutely, we can foresee companies that use this technology, be they retail or not, setting up systems that interface with a customer’s social network.
In stores we expect presence marketing systems to encourage customers to bring their social network with them and ask if a particular sweater would suit them or if a mutual friend would like a particular gift.
This could be done just through the smartphone or you could see kiosks which offer larger screens for customers to use and which could also go in to far more detail about particular items. They could show promotional videos for a purchase that needs a lot of consideration, for example, and the video shown would depend on who is in front of the screen and what the store knows about them.
Q How about beyond retail?
A One of the biggest benefits for presence marketing is that in-store staff will have something more to go on when customers come in. They may get a message saying Mr Jones’ order has come in or perhaps that he was asking about an item which is now in stock.
Having such a capability would be a very powerful customer service tool and it doesn’t have to be restricted to retail. It could allow executives to be alerted when a customer or lead comes in to their building or perhaps approaches them at a conference or network event.
Knowing more about a person of interest will be a major advantage in conducting business, particularly if you don’t know what somebody looks like. Your smartphone could guide you to them as well as other people your company is interested in talking to.
There are obviously already huge opportunities in logistics and the supply chain that are being tapped in to as companies use tags to track items and plan smarter routes.
Q How does it all work?
A Presence marketing is powered by big data. You need to collect everything you can about your customer and prospects, with their permission, so when they later approach your store, office or event you have detailed information for and about them.
The skill comes in being able to collect all that data and make sense of it. Presence marketing is data mining at its best, collecting terabyte upon terabyte of data analysing and intelligently using it. It could result in you guiding a customer to the right offer in store or empowering an executive to introduce themselves and start a relevant business conversation with a prospective client.
Q What is CSC doing in the area?
A It is very early days but we are already working on some very interesting retail projects in the UK and the USA. These are highly sensitive projects because the companies involved realise the power of presence marketing. They can see it’s going to give them a huge competitive first mover advantage.
There seems to be a consensus that this will be massive in retail and as soon as the systems we are helping to develop are launched, competitors will follow.