The Retailer/Consumer Data Struggle: Who Wins?

Posted in Retail
By Laura Leslie on July 24, 2015

Loyalty-programme-cardHow valuable is your data? We have all reached the general consensus that consumer data is valuable, that is why we continue to see innovative ways for retailers to capitalize on it like beacons and elaborate customer loyalty programs. But consumers should start to question how much value the retailers are getting out of their data, and is it a mutually beneficial exchange?

In the world of retail nothing comes for free. Even “sales” come at a higher price to the consumer that most are willing to overlook in the name of discounts. What if discounts and rebates weren’t entirely designed as a data grab and retailers were just open about their intention to monetize your data? That would be the first step to making data collection/exchange equally advantageous to both parties. Until then, it’s good to know a bit about the most common ways retailers are getting and using your data.

Loyalty programs:

Instilling loyalty in your customers is the best way retailers can ensure return spenders. Depending on the type of store, retailers can hope to gain loyal customers by doing things like; consistently stocking favorite brands at low prices or having an excellent in-store experience with higher than average customer service. Some of the most successful loyalty programs like Starbucks and Shoppers Drug Mart, succeed purely by offering a points system. Points redeemed for money or its equivalent in cost-free product. Loyalty programs allow retailers to collect data even when consumers pay with cash! If the benefit is large enough to consumers they won’t mind the extra effort at the till, while retailers are able overcome the otherwise impossible task of knowing the details of your purchase even when a card payment isn’t used.

The data collection isn’t just limited to your purchases either, many customers forget about the pertinent information they provide to retailers upon signing up. Outside of your signup form, retailers would struggle to get information like your age, sex and location. Those details are not collected from your credit cards or normally in any other instance. The hope here is more catered messaging and offers down the line.

Tesco is a company that has been celebrated for its sophisticated loyalty program. Not only do they allow you to redeem your points in-store, but also in restaurants and attractions that participate. They’ve gone a step above the average loyalty program and after noticing a decline in redeemed coupons they used purchasing data to personalize and send out thousands of custom coupon books to increase usage. This effectively helped them increase consumer spending per month by offering real value from the data they collected.


Beacon technology is another way retailers use data to offer customers more. Consumers can be greeted via their store app upon entering the store and while shopping. Depending on the customers location in the store, different notifications on sales and rebates will be pushed to their mobile device. Some savvy shoppers may see a great added value in this option, but many are recognizing it as another savvy way for retailers to collect even MORE data than before. Purchase history was the beginning, now they want to know the path you take within the store, how long you examine each considered product, and the length of time you spend in front of a display. In the offline world these details were previously impossible to track, but with proximity technology that is all changing.


Rebates like the commonly offered, “mail in rebate” allow consumers to offer up data in hopes of a greater return after they have already made their purchase. Although many rebate programs are designed knowing the consumer won’t take advantage of them, they’re a way to offer large discounts and retrieve accurate data in return. In 2014 about 310 Billion coupons were distributed in the U.S. Seemingly indicating that they continue to be a success for retailers. Mail in rebates are successful for instance because people aren’t going to put the wrong address if there are wanting their rebate sent to them. That way coupons can go out to those addresses for years to come. This month Samsung is offering a $200 rebate for the Galaxy Note 4, in order to receive the mailed cheque you have to enter in contact info, upload a photo of the receipt with the date of purchase and enter the IMEI and WiFi Mac address. A great way for Samsung to get residual information while lowering the cost of the 4, in hopes it could raise demand for the 5.

There is an ever-growing demand for data in the retail space and as a result an ever-growing list of customer benefits that come at the cost of that data. Consumers should continue to evaluate the value and drivers behind each piece of personal information they share with retailers. Here at Rubikloud we believe there is a way to make sharing consumer data even more valuable to the consumer. Monetizing your data should be explored further, stay tuned to learn how and why Rubikloud is interested in helping you do that.