Information technology has entered a big-data era. Many of the worst eCommerce data leakages reduce the customer confidence. And no one will be pleased to share their private data which including the websites they visit and the products they buy, is available to anyone, even the companies from which they make purchases. You can do only one thing to keep buyers form rebelling: offer transparency.
Companies Caught “Watching”
In this fast-paced world of the Internet, more and more businesses are finding themselves ill-prepared to provide their customers with the ability to shop for products online. When they do decide to jump into the eCommerce arena, they will need to get all of the data from the wholesale distributor who is supplying them with the product that they sell.
To be honest, all consumers know companies collect information about them. We’re cool with sharing some information, as long as the use of that data doesn’t slip over into the creepy territory or put us at a disadvantage. When that information is used to enhance our shopping experience, whether to make recommendations or to give special offers on important days (birthdays and anniversaries), we say “keep on keepin’ on,” to those companies personalizing the process.
Every once in a while, however, a company is caught crossing the line. Maybe they didn’t have any intention of using the information they gathered for nefarious purposes, but the fact that buyers realized the power of the data those companies held certainly caused them some problems.
Now, of course, the company has been outed for “suggesting” higher-priced hotels to Mac users who visit the site. Comparisons were made between searches on Macs and PCs, with Mac users seeing the first page of search results with up to 11% higher prices. Maybe Orbitz offers the opportunity for buyers to filter search results, but many buyers just don’t see that option when they’re staring down more expensive hotel choices.
Target also nearly caused a consumer riot when they began sending offers and discounts for products specifically for pregnant women…before these women had even announced their pregnancies. By using data gathered during previous shopping trips, the corporation’s marketing department was able to accurately predict which women were pregnant and even determine a due date.
The whole project might have gone off without a hitch if Target hadn’t sent several promotional materials to a teen girl who hadn’t yet told her family about the situation. After the father’s meltdown, they realized their marketing needed to be a little less direct and started placing the specifically chosen items in emails and mailers next to items pregnant women would never consider buying.
The suggestion to offer transparency then comes with the question of how. How do you let buyers know what information you’re collecting, how you plan to collect it, and what you plan to do with it? Think of phone calls to customer service departments. A recorded voice lets you know your call may be recorded. The law dictates they let you know before you even say a word. While that same law doesn’t extend to the information companies can collect, the courtesy sure could.
A simple disclaimer on your business website is a great way to start. You could also let buyers know every time they fill out a form what you plan to do with the answers they provide. Show them the value of their data right away with an offer that fits their exact psychographic dimensions and they’ll never again question your methods.