14 September 2022

The importance of data – redefining commercial and marketing strategy

Gwyn Davis, BWP, Business Director

Data collection is a fundamental part of any marketing campaign, especially within the digital sphere. Using data garnered through customer surveys and email campaigns is a great way to understand your audience and share with them relevant information about your brand.

However, using this as your only touchpoint would be a grave under-evaluation of the capabilities and potential that data can provide, particularly for retail destinations that often have limited customer insights.

The opportunity for retail destinations is vast. Informed data can influence decision-making across every element of a scheme. It can help to create leverage in negotiations, streamline operational (cost) efficiencies, influence consumer behaviour, and more. The potential opportunities to utilise good data are endless, but many businesses are undervaluing its importance and potential.

Repeat customers are a great starting point. Whether they visit due to the location, the brand, the stores on site, or the experiences on offer, understanding why they keep coming back is a fundamental driver to maximise the success and value of the centre. If customer data is analysed and applied to a strategic marketing approach, customers can be placed at the forefront of the marketing and leasing strategy and drive results.

So where can you find it?

Credit card data, ANPR cameras, beacon and LIDAR technology, Wi-Fi location data – the list goes on. There is a huge range of data sources and different technologies out there. But the reality is that there is no perfect single source. To be successful you must have a very clear brief of what you want to achieve and build out the tools and data sources required to deliver on the brief. Failure to do so will risk resulting in a huge resource burn – budgets, time and headspace – and an overload of data with little insight or action.

How to use the data

As alluded to there are many ways data can be used effectively.  Here is just three examples -

1.     Influencing customer behaviour

The right data can provide retail destinations with a great bank of behavioural insights to enable a better understanding of, and enhance communication with, their customers. It is important to identify the target demographic and develop a holistic understanding of who they are, where they come from and what they engage with. The more that is known, the more personalised content can be, so that it speaks to them directly and encourages not just engagement, but action, and importantly, customer retention.

Once data has been collected and customers have opted-in for further information, it opens the opportunity for retail destinations to incentivise footfall and spend during quieter times and to drive to quieter areas throughout the scheme through tools such as SMS, push notifications and direct email campaigns.

2.     Commercial strategy

Data can also help to shape the retail mix by enabling retail destinations to streamline the brand offering based on their customers. Whilst it is hard to know exactly what products customers are browsing through in a given store, what they opt to purchase, or at least the transactional value, can be seen through credit card data and that can then be used assess category and sub-category headroom opportunity. Equally, various technologies can be used to track customer movement around the public mall space, giving valuable insights, for example, into high and low traffic areas enabling a more dynamic pricing approach to leasing and commercialisation strategy.

3.     Operations

Maximising profitability needn’t solely be around increasing revenue.  Saving costs can do the same job, and data can be used to create smarter working practices. Tracking flow around the scheme, occupation of food court tables, footfall counting into toilets, and even how often the flush goes as a trigger to deploy cleaners can result in a much more efficient use of resource than arbitrary hourly checks. This traditional approach may also miss otherwise avoidable customer experience issues.

The ultimate aim of those running any retail destination is to drive sales and improve asset value. Understanding how to use data correctly will help to drive an informed and insight-led strategy that enables retail destinations to increasingly focus more of their marketing budgets on acquisition and growth.

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