For the majority of people, purchasing daily groceries is a necessary evil. Consumers struggling in overcrowded shopping centers might be wondering why something so everyday can’t be handled in an easier and more pleasant manner. According to Mikko Eerola, Managing Director at Affecto, stores must improve their customer experience through better utilisation of existing knowledge.

Eerola points out that above all else, high-quality customer experience needs to be personalized, smooth and seamless.

– Traditionally, such experiences can be provided by the best specialized stores, where the storekeeper is personally familiar with the customers and the range of products offered, and capable of predicting the needs of customers.

At the turn of the millennium, most retail chains introduced loyalty cards. They were marketed with promises of discounts and better service. But for the most part, these promises remain unfulfilled. Even though purchasing data is collected, most retailers haven’t used the data for making personalized offers on the customer’s favorite products, for example. However, due to new technology, the situation is changing quickly.

– For example, a mobile app for a leading food retail chain in Norway is capable of putting together a personalized shopping list of products the customer is likely to purchase. The app is based on a system combining customer data and purchasing frequency information. It can also make personalized offers and Amazon-style product recommendations, Eerola says.

Companies capable of utilizing all the existing information in real time can automate processes and make quicker decisions that are always based on up-to-date facts, Mikko Eerola emphasizes.


The retailer can now anticipate the customer’s wishes

The core competence of Affecto consists in combining customer data collected from the Internet, mobile equipment, and the store into a single data pool. At the store, data is collected by video and wi-fi analytics, which follow the customers’ movement – for example, where they stop, what they look at, and which locations are overcrowded.  By combining customer data, Affecto builds more accurate models that assist companies in predicting the desires of individual customers.

– For example, as I’m walking through a department store, I may receive a message on my phone that a limited special version of Game of Thrones Season 4 is on sale today. This is not a coincidence – it is a personalised message for me. The technology at the store has identified me and connected the data with information regarding my earlier off-line and online shopping events, explains Eerola.

In addition to better service, the data pools are used for managing the store’s business. The pools provide up-to-date information for managers to accelerate the decision-making process.

– Many industrial companies are more experienced in the use of big data and advanced analytics, compared to commercial enterprises. Affecto’s skills in these areas have been sharpened in the service of industrial clients; this experience has also enhanced our offer to retailers. We are currently carrying out the first major pilots in the Nordic countries, and the results are promising indeed, Eerola states.

Mikko is a growth-oriented leader who believes that combining data and design results in superior customer experience and thus the growth of the business. Within Affecto, Mikko is responsible for the entire B2C industry sector related business activity of the Group, as well as for managing the Affecto brand, marketing, and sales.

The article has been published originally at Finnair Blue Wings magazine at October 2015.