Getting the right information on demand is an eternal problem of today’s knowledge workers, and will only grow. Lack of knowledge causes a delay in decision-making, and ultimately leads to bad decisions. This is the essence of the Two-Second Advantage, where a little knowledge in the correct context at the correct time is much more useful than all of the pertinent knowledge if it is too late to act upon.
Nowhere is this more true than retail where an immediate and succinct answer to a customer’s question is essential. Not reacting to a customer leads inevitably to dissatisfaction. Answering a customer question incorrectly can also lead to a potential revenue hit when the customer returns a product due to lack of information.
Cleanup in Aisle Two
Here is an example of the environment that exists in many retail stores: a store manager walks up to the shelf in his store and needs more information about the product in front of him. In the old world, he would write a number on the back of hand with his pen and go back to the dirty, smelly office in the back, log on to some application (or likely several), type in that number and get the information that would allow him to make a decision. Hopefully, the customer is still there to hear this answer, but that’s not very likely. The customer is probably gone since waiting for a complete and correct answer several minutes from first inquiry means the opportunity has walked out of the store.
This does not happen in today’s world. Today, the store manager takes out his smartphone, and opens up the Product Lookup app. He hits a button to bring up the barcode scanner which fires up his camera. He points the camera at the bar code on the shelf which connects to pattern recognition software to do a smart lookup on the MDM system back at the retailers corporate data center. He confirms this is the correct product and is presented with all of the data about the product instantly. He can now answer the question from the customer with the confidence he has the right amount of information at the right time to give the right advice to the customer.
Empowering the Consumer
This scenario can even work directly to the consumer. In the above example, the store manager is presented with all of the information about the product. This internal information may not be appropriate for a consumer, as the consumer doesn’t really care if the product is shipped on a pallet or packaged gross in a cardboard box, 24x19x12.
For the consumer, this experience would be built into the retailers app on a smartphone. Using the same steps, she would scan the product’s bar code and the composite application would query the MDM system. Since the MDM system understands that this user is not an employee, the information provided would be carefully filtered to only show the information that marketing approved for external consideration.
This scenario grows dramatically when included with loyalty software combined with complex event processing. Now that the retailer knows that this consumer is interested in a product, we can analyze her shopping history to see if she actually bought it. By understanding that there is an interest in the product, we can now include a targeted campaign to increase the retailer’s chances of converting the customer into a fan.
This article was first posted on The TIBCO Blog and has been edited lightly.
Sean O’Shaughnessey, other than having a repetitive name, is a software account executive responsible for some of the largest retail, CPG, manufacturing, and insurance accounts in the world. His role gives him access to the core challenges in consumer markets that can only be met with smart strategy and wise investment in technology.