In doing his research for his article in the May Automatic Merchandiser on what operators must consider before investing in micro markets, contributing editor Allen Weintraub came across a very interesting piece of information that demonstrates what may be the most important benefit that micro markets provide to operators. That benefit is being able to learn individual customer needs and market to them accordingly.
In his research, Weintraub found an article in The New York Times about how Target, using its customer data, discovered that a teenage customer was pregnant even before that teenager’s father knew about it. The newspaper reported that the father, unaware that his teenage daughter was expecting, complained to the store that his high school daughter was receiving Target coupons for baby clothes and cribs. The customer apologized a few days later after realizing his daughter was, in fact, expecting.
This piece of information was not included in Weintraub’s final story that appears in the May issue, “Self checkout markets raise the bar: Key things for operators to consider.” As editor, I felt the Target episode ventured too far afield from the purpose of the story, which was to advise operators what they need to consider before investing in a micro market. (To read the article, click here.)
But I did agree with Weintraub that the ability to gather data about customer buying habits is one of the most important benefits that micro markets offer. His article as it appears in the May issue notes that the micro markets provide a new level of customer data, and Weintraub urges operators, when choosing a micro market provider, to consider very seriously whether or not the operator has complete and exclusive access to the data.
In reporting about technology, Automatic Merchandiser often faces a dilemma. Providing too much information about what technology can do will discourage operators from reading an article if the operators need more basic information. Which is often the case for many of our readers.
On the other hand, operators do need to know the full extent of what they can do with technology. In the case of micro markets, Weintraub is correct in observing they allow operators to use data just as effectively as the country’s biggest retailers do. This includes offering coupons and loyalty rewards programs, and developing a customer database that provides the ability to market to customers based on individual needs.
As technology progresses, the task of providing our readers the type of information they need becomes more challenging. I certainly appreciate having knowledgeable associates to help with this task.