How Data Powers the Magic of Retail

Financial technology and online sales are rapidly changing the retail space, sparking debate on what lies ahead for physical shopping environments.

Retail is not suffering from a lack of data — in fact, we’re drowning in it. Rather than continuing to speculate on what’s noise and what’s useful, I founded Movvo to help businesses make informed decisions by understanding what’s really going on.

To learn about consumers as granularly in physical locations, we dreamt a user experience experiment by placing sensors in stores, malls and even cities. They track which stores shoppers visit, the sequence and lengths of their stops, how frequently they return and even where they speed up or slow down.

We then combine this data with relevant information a merchant or city has collected about them and consider their records from other external sources such as mobile phone carriers. Artificial intelligence paints a beautiful picture of the role that this space – not just the brand – plays in their lives by discovering where else they spend time and what else they enjoy doing.

These insights help companies dissect where exactly the impacts and opportunities in fintech lie for their unique circumstances. One of our most interesting discoveries has been that many mallgoers are mission-shoppers – people who visit malls for a single purpose. These shoppers might visit brands like Apple and Neiman Marcus that are famous for providing a service that is best delivered in person.

However, once these shoppers get what they need, they leave without perusing other stores. Considering that there are 1,211 shopping malls in the United States alone, this is an opportunity for brands to strike. Creating personalized discounts that can also easily be redeemed online won’t work. Instead, they must develop the right experiences that will make a destination popular by focusing on its advantage of human interaction. What can the physical location offer that a webpage cannot? The answer to that question will differ in every circumstance because the people involved behave differently.

With the help of Mastercard Start Path, we are hoping to take our technology into new markets so brands and cities all over the world can discover what will work best for their consumers.

This article was written by Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe and was originally published on the Mastercard news room here.

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