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04/30/2013

Gap Gets Personal With Big Data

In addition to The Gap's recent inventory optimization and store-based fulfillment initiatives, the retailer is also focusing on Big Data and personalization. According to The Gap, the issue isn't having the data or having big data, it's turning the data into relevant information that then feeds a personalized shopping experience. The technology is there and the retailer is now starting to customize and test personalization of its website landing experience.
 
For The Gap, personalization will, has, and is forming the bridge between the online world and the brick-and-mortar experience. If customers shop online don't buy, the wish list on the website will now be available on iPad mini or tablet or smartphone, and follow customers into the store. "That's an obvious no-brainer that," said Arthur Peck, president of growth, innovation and digital for The Gap on a recent call with analysts. "That shopping experience should be seamless across those channels and then show up and pop up in the store environment."
 
Personalization comes to life when a device lights up as customers cross the lease line, recognizes who they are, and the shopping experience begins there. Bringing this to life will create a great multi-tender loyalty experience.
 
"What we're talking about with multi-tender loyalty experience is giving you, the customer, the incentive to self-identify at the beginning of your shopping experience," continued Peck. "And that allows us to then initiate a personalized shopping experience, whether it's on the website or in a brick-and-mortar experience. It allows us to personalize a promotional offer. You can derive individual elasticity curves on the basis of a pretty modest amount of data. It allows us to personalize product information as you're walking across the store. A sales associate today would have to recognize me, know when I was last in the store, know what my size is and when I last purchased 1969 denim to tell me that, when I come into the store again, there are new washes available in my favorite fit and size."
 
To do that, the retailer will match transaction with date and time of transaction and content of basket, allowing a personalized message to tell the customer new washes are available. The personalization may also include a message saying, "you should try them on," and a $10 coupon.
 
The other way that personalization comes to life is by using Square because it has a bilateral communication. It is the same personalization that is delivered by crossing the lease line and the information can also be made available to a sales associate. "Again, used in a different way in a different environment, absolutely will come to life in our higher-end brands, will be a different experience in our more value-oriented brands," noted Peck.
 
 But the notion of a sales associate knowing that a customer is coming in after the retailer has reserved the store for every customer visit, a really powerful way to create an exceptional customer experience in a world that has been essentially depersonalized today from a retail standpoint.
 
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