Online retailers have the ability to know their customers–and their customers’ intentions–before they ever make a purchase. According to e-commerce specialist Vicente Rezende, from the moment a consumer first visits a virtual store and starts to browse, all of that person’s shopping intentions can be fully monitored. More than that, even: The volume of data generated from this purchase intention can be analyzed until some meaning is found within this huge sum of information.
“For starters, retailers learn what channels are bringing in each consumer, and from this they can compare how efficient each channel is, not just at attracting customers but also at leading to conversion,” Rezende said.
Of course, this analysis is not only used with regard to purchase intention; the work of understanding consumer behavior also occurs during purchases and after orders have been placed.
According to Rezende, Brazil’s high-performing retailers have already been engaged in this work for at least two or three years. But, he said, smaller companies and those that focus on specific niches should also join the game soon. The reason is simple. “Today, this work has become a lot easier,” he said.
That’s because, in the past, the volume of information generated was too great to be stored or processed. “It was too much information for companies to be able to find some meaning in there,” Rezende said.
But these days it is very different. Countless tools used to make this work possible can be purchased as a service, including options to provide recommendations, retargeting, audience analysis, smart email, and web analytics. Furthermore, data processing capacity has increased considerably and storage capacity is now much cheaper. “This has made this type of analysis feasible, common, and more affordable than it was in the past,” Rezende said.
For Rezende, using these tools strategically and properly tagging the company’s website, which he said is crucial, can generate impressive results, particularly with regard to driving conversion. “Thanks to data analysis, increasingly on-point offers can be made at the right time, which has always been the major challenge for retail,” he explained.
These offers can take the form of a recommendation or an email based on the consumer’s previous purchases. “These really are personalized communications,” Rezende added.
In the near future, Rezende said, the major trend for retailers in Brazil will be to integrate brick-and-mortar and online stores. “Like other industries, retail should continue progressing to find offline solutions to questions that begin online,” he said. This means allowing consumers to buy online and pick up or exchange products at brick-and-mortar stores–and vice-versa, to buy at brick-and-mortar stores and receive their products at home.
These types of initiatives, in fact, already exist in Brazil. Some supermarket chains allow customers to visit a store to pick up purchases made on their app–without having to wait in a checkout line. And some department stores make online shoppers’ lives easier by allowing them to pick up and exchange products at brick-and-mortar stores.