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Why Retail Brands Need to Collect Their Own Data

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As the regulatory landscape and practical applications of third-party data continue to shift, brands must adjust their investment and priorities to tactics that allow them to collect their own customer data. Not only will this help them strengthen their ability to create highly personalized experiences, but it also will help build more trust with their customers.

Collecting Your Own Data

Brands are likely already collecting their own data in some way from their websites or apps. This data typically falls into one of two classifications: zero-party data and first-party data.

Zero-party data is any information a customer willfully shares with a brand, like their name, email address or phone number. First-party data is information collected from direct customer interactions with owned digital properties. This information can include anything from what browser they use to the type of device they’re accessing a brand’s site or app from to their purchase history and page visits.

Both sets of information are incredibly valuable, for a few reasons. First, the brand knows the exact source of the data and can verify its accuracy. Second, the brand has explicit consent to collect and use the information. Third, the brand can use both data sets to start building a profile of that customer, which will allow them to personalize various touch points, from promotional emails to product recommendations. Customers are more likely to make a new or repeat purchase when these interactions are more personalized.

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Give Some, Get Some

It makes a lot of sense when a brand offers a nominal discount to encourage an email sign-up or account creation. But discounts are not the be-all and end-all; in fact, other tactics work just as well without hitting your bottom line.

Most consumers are willing to part with personal information in exchange for something they value – and consumers value many things beyond discounts and markdowns. A company that can strike that balance and discover what consumers are willing to accept in exchange for personal data can build detailed profiles of its customers. These richer, fuller profiles can help that company deliver highly personalized messaging and experiences to individual customers, which they will still expect even after the sunsetting of third-party cookies.

Creative Ways to Capture Data

A brand’s zero- and first-party data sources don’t have to stop there. By leveraging highly engaging and accessible digital content, a brand can cast a wider net and create additional opportunities to learn about its customers without resorting to third-party data brokers. One way to do that is gamification.

Put simply, gamification is adding gaming elements to non-gaming scenarios. For a retailer, that could be anything from a simple progress bar that tracks how many reward points a customer has left before unlocking a new milestone, to a stand-alone personality quiz that customizes an entire outfit based on a customer’s answers. It’s still the same basic exchange of value described above: personal information for a nominal reward. However, retailers are now offering fun, interactive experiences that can enhance customers’ brand perception.

Few organizations commit the time and resources to creating a functional outfit-building engine that converts answers from personality questions into a comprehensive, stylish look. Thankfully, some companies offer pre-built, fully customizable digital content, games, quizzes, polls, surveys and more without major time and resource investments on the part of the brand. Since these pieces of interactive content already exist and can often be integrated into a company’s existing CRM platform, a brand can deploy them in days or weeks instead of months.

Trust is the Foundation of Every Great Relationship

By focusing their efforts on collecting and using their own data, brands can establish a stronger and more trusting bond with their customers. This requires companies to be upfront and honest about how and why they collect data, but they should do that anyway.

Starting the customer relationship with transparency about data practices can go a long way toward building trust, especially when customers understand the value exchange that’s taking place between them and the brand. When an organization makes clear that it collects data to personalize customer experiences, it shows customers that the brand is committed to creating the best possible experience.

Clarifying that customer data won’t be shared with other entities also puts customers at ease and makes them more likely to consent to data collection. While there will always be people who opt out, most consumers will happily share information in exchange for a personalized experience that meets their preferences and goals.

The saying, “Honesty is the best policy,” endures for a reason.

The Future of Strong Customer Relationships

Whether the plug gets pulled on third-party cookies or not, every retail brand should look for new, innovative, and engaging ways to interact with customers and gather data directly from the source. By eliminating outside parties and limiting the exchange of value to the customer and the brand, organizations can create stronger relationships with their customers built on trust.


Joel Steel is the Co-founder and CEO of Komo Technologies. His experience spans two decades and includes fostering and guiding teams across diverse industries. Steel founded Komo Technologies in 2014 and has remained committed to becoming a recognized global leader in digital engagement ever since. Under his leadership, Komo has expanded its reach globally and established partnerships with some of the world’s most prominent brands – effectively transforming the company into Australia’s premier digital engagement technology. Steel is deeply committed to cultivating high-performance teams, empowering individuals and ensuring that his team loves coming to work each day.

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