Last week in New York City, more than 18,000 retail professionals gathered at Retail’s Big Show, NRF 2015, and they all heard one very clear message: Data is the new king.
From creating end-to-end signature brand experiences to driving new revenue streams that once seemed impossible, the gathering, analyzing and application of data is what will drive the most successful retailers of the 21st-century. NRF 2015 kicked off with a session featuring panelists from the upper echelon of the sports market titled, “Game Changer: Loyalty and Performance Lessons from Passionate Sports Fandom.” Sports fans are already predisposed to extreme brand loyalty, but there is always a need to create new and increasingly engaging strategies to hook the next generation.
The NBA created a unique opportunity for their 380 million existing fans when that organization partnered with SAP to put all of the player and game data its been collecting since 1946 online, making it accessible to anyone and everyone. Among the many goals of the project, says Mark Tatum, Deputy Commissioner and COO of the NBA, was to leverage the growing participation in fantasy sports teams. Working with SAP to understand what fans were looking for, the NBA uncovered an “insatiable appetite” for information but that there was “no easy way” for consumers to get access to the data they sought. Now, the revamped stats hub on NBA.com puts all of that information at the user’s fingertips.
While some might see sharing the league’s entire history of game and player statistics as a huge risk, Tatum says it only served to increase loyalty. And, he adds, “Data drives all the lines of business.” He also offered a very compelling example of how Big Data allows the league to track each ticket holder, enabling customer experiences that once seemed the stuff of science fiction. Imagine, if you will, that you’re at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland watching NBA superstar LeBron James achieve a record-setting game in front of the hometown crowd. The NBA’s data shows your address is within 100 miles of the arena and serves you up a personalized text alert on your smartphone (the number of which they collected when you bought your ticket) offering a special commemorative T-shirt from that evening on the spot. “It’s all about knowing the individual,” says Tatum.
That is the power of Big Data, and it isn’t limited to sports. World-class customer experiences are all driven by mining data gathered at every step of the customer journey. This is how brands like Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Birchbox, Bilder & De Clercq and more are building an end-to-end “signature experience.” According to Neil Stren, Senior Partner, Ebeltoft USA/McMillanDoolittle, brands that are unable to deliver bold, unmistakable consumer experiences will be edged out by those who are able to innovate. With the right data (and the right people to mine it), creating world-class retail is a slam dunk.