June 25, 2013, 11:31 AM

Making retail personal is tough

Consumers say they want custom offers but don’t want to give too much data.

Allison Enright

Editor

Lead Photo

Most U.S. consumers in a new survey want customized offers from retailers. But relatively few shoppers want to hand over data that would help merchants with personalization. Results of an online survey fielded in May by business consultancy and technology provider Infosys reveal the disparity between what consumers say they want and what they’re willing to give. A total of 5,000 adults from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia participated in the survey, with 1,000 respondents coming from each country.

The survey finds 78% of consumers agree they are more likely to purchase from a retailer again if that retailer provided them with offers targeted to their interests, wants or needs, and 71% say they are more likely to purchase again if retailers made offers based on location. But fewer than half, 45%, say they are willing to trade some privacy to receive offers based on their online shopping behavior, and just 43% say they don’t mind if retailers track their location on mobile devices to send  location-based offers. Just 13% say they are willing to share social media information with retailers. This is in contrast to 57% who say they are more likely to purchase from a retailer who keeps them updated on offers via social media.  

“This study is a wake-up call to companies about the enormous untapped opportunity to gain greater access to data by clearly communicating ‘what’s in it for me’ to the consumer,” says Stephen Pratt, managing partner, Infosys.

The good news for merchants and marketers is that 93% of consumers are open to sharing at least one piece of personal information with retailers, the survey says. The greatest portion of respondents, 78%, say they are willing to share their e-mail address with retailers, and 64% are open to sharing their ZIP codes. 

There is also evidence that retailers do click from online social networks to retailers’ e-commerce sites. Nearly 6% of the web site traffic to the top 50 e-retailers ranked in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Social Media 300 was referred by Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. That traffic collectively generated $1.32 billion in sales.

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