When will online stores start reading the consumer’s mind?

Birender Singh

Birender Singh

Come any national festival of the country and we see banners popping across the media about sales offers announced by the likes of Flipkart, Amazon, etc. There is no wrong in it and as long as this strategy pays, they have every right to do so.

But is it all that they can make out of their advanced analytics tools to read and understand the sentiments of potential buyers? One of the strong points of all these online selling spaces is technology and one derived from it is the analytics. These companies have immense data about the consumers’ buying process, buying behaviour, etc. to understand how effectively the business can be operated.

I strongly feel they are underutilising the capabilities of the analytics tools and the data they can play with. What perhaps they need to focus around is how to personalise the shopping experiences and bring in maximum value to each of the potential buyer and analytics has a crucial role to play in it.

This I would like to highlight with an example. So here I go.

I was recently looking for a product from these stores but it wasn’t at the sweet spot that I would just go and click the buy button. So, like several potential buyers, I would revisit the stores and check if there is any offer or further price reduction on it. Unfortunately, the product that I was looking at was among those uncommon ones, where the price didn’t fluctuate in a span of over one month. Hence, I decided not to purchase it.

But at the same time, the data captured from my visits was telling the stores about my interests and they were sending me mailers about the latest in the category and the offers available. But, not exactly about the specific model or brand that I was interested in. It just ordinarily sent me out emails showing the available offers and discounts within that product category, which didn’t attract me much. These mails honestly were not bringing in any value to me or the offers that were being sold out to me. Rather only annoying me.

So what would have brought in value for me from these stores is if they had shot a personalised offer to me for that very product rather than sending me options promoting cross selling. That is an old style now and less effective. Instead, if these stores, based on the analytics they have, start offering personalised deals and offers going specific upto the brand or model a person is interested in, this would be a real value add and a key differentiator from the offline sales.

Receiving a single mail hitting straight with the offer on a particular brand or the option that a potential buyer is interested in will ensure that s/he buys the product which is of interest and also promotes brand loyalty rather than going haywire due to price fluctuations.

Hope, these online stores learn to gather more from their analytics and start using it for more personalised selling rather than the generic banner promotions that turns out to be a negative promotion where the number of people opting is less than the potential base targeted.

First published in CiOL on May 26th, 2015