Lack of tech leadership has held back data advances for retailers says Westfield marketer

John Batistich

John Batistich: “We’re seeing an arms race in fintech.”

The retail sector has been slower to harness the potential of its customer data than sectors like financial services because of a lack of leadership and competitive tension in the sector, Westfield’s marketing boss has claimed.

Speaking at the Mumbrella Retail Marketing Summit on Wednesday, John Batistich, marketing director for Westfield’s parent company Scentre Group, said ‘fintech’ had leapt ahead of other sectors because of the competition between the big four banks for customers.

“What we’re seeing in the market place is an arms race in fintech led by an arms race of Westpac and CBA, ANZ and NAB following. But in retail tech we’ve not really had anyone lead from the front and make investments in start-up communities in retail,” he said.

“I think the important point everyone will see in the next few years is the data exchanges, relationships, cartels that are forming, we have a number that are starting to form and creating data relationships, transfers and enrichment.

“Data Republic is on its way and there are others that are rumoured and others who are using each other’s data for significant value. It’s certainly going to dis-intermediate some of the media operators who don’t have that data.”

Peter Hunt of PHD

Peter Hunter: consumer data is not enough

Speaking on the issue of customer data, Peter Hunter, national head of business at media agency PHD, told the room Australia suffered from “small pools of first party data” which people “hold to their chest” and don’t share.

“What we’re seeing is clients making the big leaps forward are moving away from a single view of the customer, insisting they get all their information from one data source, and are creating utility between data sources,” he said.

“We’ve always tried to work out more information about the individual but it’s not about that anymore, it’s the intent I have that you’re trying to sell me on.”

Davis, Brennen, Jones, Zotti

Steve Brennen: senior director of marketing and retail innovation, eBay

Steve Brennan, director of marketing and retail innovation, eBay Australia, pointed to how companies could be using their data more effectively, citing the difference between retail stores that change prices perhaps twice a month and the website Amazon which changes them “one million to two million times per day”.”

“They use supply and demand economics,” he said. If it’s raining outside umbrellas go up, if it’s sunny sun-cream goes up. It’s basic stuff in a digital world that you can optimise for.”

Later in the day Batistich outlined some of the steps the Westfield group is taking to improve the ways it harnesses data.

Batistich said Westfield was offering 1 gigabyte of free data to shoppers, through its wi-fi networks in a number of its malls, in part because of the patchy data coverage some telcos deliver inside the high-density building environment of shopping malls.

Even in the early stages of its roll-out, Batistich said that the levels of use by customers was encouraging and Westfield would use the data to improve the shopping experience in real time.

This will include offering more targeted mapping than was available through apps such as Google Maps to help shoppers navigate the centers.

The aim is to tie together the shopper’s other digital interactions with the brand to create a total consumer experience.

“Eleven per cent of shoppers get on wi-fi and they stay on it for 22 minutes,” Batistich said.

“If we abuse that data we will fail and so it’s important when (a shopper) arrives that everything has been informed by what he’s done on our site. We are very focused on using the data.”

He said that Westfield was making two big bets, but was also involved in a lot of experimentation.

“One is the ‘searchable mall’ – the first in the world – where we work with Australia’s best fashion retailers and integrate their product on to our web platform to allow shoppers as they start their shopping journey to discover and find products – most importantly, stores, opening hours, events, dining options, cinema and content around that – and that has been a very, very big play for us,” he said.

Westfield will also use a location analytics platform to understand the profiles of repeated customer location behaviours, enabling it to better target customer with useful information.

Sandy Mellis, general manager at Reckitt Benckiser, said that even for fast moving consumer goods, one of the most effective channels for connecting with consumers was in-store.

“Like it or not it’s much easier to talk to a shopper through the store than through fractured mediums,” Mellis said.

Alex Hayes and Simon Canning

Retail Marketing Summit 2016


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