As the editor for eSeller News I’m expected to keep up with developments that monitor consumer behaviour.
This is a part time job of mine and although sceptical at first my boss promised me I would soon become immersed in the world of eCommerce and find it fascinating. He was right. After my first interview I was hooked, I had no idea of the technology available to stores, or the technology in development. I still don’t consider myself an expert but I’ve learned a lot about Big Brother.
As consumers we may not realise it but we are in fact in control at the moment, not only do we dictate when a store has a sale, we are also realising its our money that keeps the High Street alive.
Forget the hype that the High Street is on its knees because the internet’s taken over. This simply isn’t true, in fact the more successful a company is online, the more they roll out bricks and mortar stores, as they need to serve the customer in a myriad of ways to succeed, this is known as multichannel retailing.
So old school companies may have gone bust, but ones that started online are actually making it to the High Street, yes it’s changing, but that’s what we need.
For a retailer to please a consumer and gain their loyalty they must monitor their behaviour – in store, on their mobiles and online. The retailer that collects and analyses the most data has the biggest chance of success. What retailers can now do is scary.
Let’s have a look at Amazon. Amazon have got it right, starting online they have moved with the times and evolved as their customers have. They’ve even driven demand rather than simply met it, and now they are the most successful online department store. (Just to prove a point about the hype over the end of the High Street, Amazon will be launching over 20 brick and mortar stores this year!)
They succeed by watching their buyer’s habits. Here’s a real example of how this works.
In October 2011 you buy The Guinness Book of Records 2012, yet you show no signs of buying it from Amazon in 2012. Hey presto, Amazon know you already like the book, they don’t want you going anywhere else, so suddenly you receive an offer to buy and guess what, it has free delivery.
Now let’s go a little deeper. My kindle froze on me when I was at 89% of Karen Rose’s Bestseller No One Left to Tell. I was obviously disappointed, as I didn’t realise until I snuggled down to read late in the evening. My husband got in touch online, customer care rang within 30 seconds, my new kindle arrived within 36 hours.
That’s not the impressive bit (although the customer service was exemplary). When I received my new kindle I put half an hour aside as although I was told I’d still be able to access my 84 books, I fully expected to have to trawl the kindle store and download them again. It makes complete sense.
Imagine my surprise when all of the books I bought downloaded as soon as I registered my device!
As I once again settled down in bed to read the last 10% of my book, I found when I tapped to open it; it opened on the exact same page where it had frozen. No faffing, no flicking, no tap tap tap to get to the end.
This obviously made me very happy, but then I thought, how would I feel if I bought a book from Waterstones, started reading it on the train and found the last quarter was illegible? Returning the book I’d be presented with a new one, but what if they’d put a book mark in the exact same page I’d reached? Although convenient it would have freaked me out a little as a salesperson would have followed my journey and observed my use of the book when I believed I was in my own personal space.
So do we mind that that Big brother is watching us? Will they get away with it as long as titbits are thrown that make us feel it’s for our benefit? Is it for our benefit or simply a way to make more money?
I personally think it’s amazing, how a journey can be tracked on and offline and as long as it makes my life easier I’m happy, but then isn’t this how George Orwell warned it all starts?
Is Big Brother Watching Us and Do We Care?