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Mobile devices contribute to rapid rise on retail data

Rachel Wheeler

November 27, 2013

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Why do large online retailers like Amazon have a competitive advantage over other sellers on the market? There are many reasons, but here's one big one: data. Because the major online merchants are able to collect deep banks of information about each consumer, they're able to fine-tune their sales approach. This no doubt leads to better customer loyalty.

For the other companies to catch up, they need a more level playing field. Luckily, there are some tech innovators working to make that happen. By working to improve collection processes and data quality at brick-and-mortar sales locations, they can help all sellers improve their practices.

Fast Company recently explained the methodology. Jonathan Wall and Marc Freed-Finnegan, co-creators of Google Wallet, told the news source that the key to keeping the data flowing was staying in tune with mobile devices. If they were able to use people's mobile transactions, such as payments they made via point-of-sale terminals, to paint a picture of each patron, they could improve their marketing tactics in the future.

"What if when women walked into Sephora, the sales associates were able to see their past purchases, their online orders, their wish lists, their skin type, and what brand of make-up they like?" Wall asked, according to the news source. "It'd make it so much easier for those in-store associates to be helpful."

In the long run, the goal is to turn customer data from a business-to-business interest into a business-to-consumer one. Companies will be able to connect directly with their patrons in order to complete better retail sales with no middleman required.

But for now, third-party vendors are the key to better retail vendors. The buyers, the sellers and the mobile app engineers are all working together.

"When we talk to Target, we're not expecting them to swap out their point-of-sale system - we integrate with it," Wall said. "We're not expecting them to get rid of their mobile app and start promoting ours. We integrate with their mobile app. The same goes for their website."

One tricky part of this process will be standardizing data across many disparate channels, including e-commerce sales, mobile transactions and point-of-sale purchases. It's ideal for companies to be able to share data across these many channels, but they don't want to experience a dropoff in data quality or impede the user experience. Everything still needs to be handled quickly and efficiently.

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