Data Transparency Is a Must for Addressing Privacy Concerns

With the holiday season—and Cyber Monday—just around the corner, consumers are likely to be making more online purchases than ever. For marketers, it's a competition to determine who will rally around consumers the most to provide the omnichannel experience they crave this holiday season.

With 4.5 billion people worldwide expected to have mobile phones by the end of 2014 and e-commerce sales projected to reach in excess of $1.4 trillion in 2014, a plethora of data exists that companies, specifically marketers, can use to evaluate consumer intent and purchase patterns to deliver relevant shopping experiences.

To a certain degree, consumers are willing to give up personal information in exchange for more targeted offers from companies. According to recent research from Accenture Interactive, 49 percent of consumers surveyed said they would not object to having their buying behavior tracked if it meant they would receive relevant offers from brands. In Accenture's annual holiday shopping survey, 76 percent of respondents said they are open to trying mobile services that provide real-time promotions and offers as they shop in-store.

The snag: The majority (87 percent) of consumers do not believe adequate safeguards are in place to protect their personal information, and 70 percent don't feel businesses are open enough about how they are using their data.

These findings indicate that when it comes to data privacy, the B2C relationship is still a frail one. To turn it into something more sustainable, companies need to continuously raise the bar on the value they generate from consumer data and be transparent about how they do it.

Using data to generate value

Today, most consumers have realized that they are in a new quid pro quo relationship with companies. It's no longer just about paying money for services and products, it's also about sharing certain personal information in exchange for being able to use a service in the first place and experience a more convenient and relevant shopping experience.

Many businesses are feeling the pressure of rising skepticism around data privacy, as well as growing expectations of the services they offer. As a result, companies are now rethinking the "quo" side of the bargain, and new key performance indicators (KPIs) are taking shape.

For instance, the retail industry has historically focused on keeping consumers in the store for as long as possible with such tactics as conspicuous endcaps and in-store promotions. Now retailers are looking to be more customer-centric, gleaning insights from consumers’ engagement with their brand, shopping habits, and purchasing behavior. Depending on the goal of a consumer in the moment, this could 

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