I recently participated in the Big Data Retail Forum, which was attended by around 100 professionals who make their livings in and around Big Data for retail. This summit had a great deal of thought provoking dialog, during which I noticed several interesting themes.
One of them was the concept of the Shopper as Boss. That’s my coinage and not a phrase that actually was spoken at the forum, but it accurately sums up a persistent theme of the summit. The thesis is that as you are looking into data about customer behavior in response to your own decisions, it’s important to remember where the power lies in the relationship.
The shopper is your boss. The shopper has the opportunity to make or break your success based on the decisions she makes. And we use analytics to get a better sense for how the customer will reward or punish us for the possible decisions available to us.
Don’t make the mistake of attempting to control customers. It cannot work. Shoppers do what they choose to do based on what they desire. They’re the bosses and you’re not. Your job is to figure out what your boss wants you to do.
Now, your boss isn’t going to tell you what to do, at least not directly. Instead your boss will communicate with her feet and with her wallet. She’ll take different actions based on how well or poorly you do your job, and she may even fire you by using her feet to leave the premises without using her wallet at all.
Our job as gatherers and interpreters of data is to search this behavior for the signals that indicate what the boss wants. And then to use these insights to give our boss what she’s asking for.