Ahead of this year’s InternetRetailing Expo (IRX 2018) and Delivery Expo (EDX 2018), Alessandra Di Lorenzo, chief commercial officer – media and partnerships at lastminute.com group spoke to InternetRetailing on the upcoming GDPR, the importance of having ‘bright’ employees and touched upon personalisation and predictive analytics.
IR: At IRX 2018, you will consider how retailers can recognise the value of data to drive customer insight and revenue growth, and create additional revenue streams, in the presentation Building a solid data strategy that achieves real customer insight and diversifies your business. Can you tell me about one challenge that is particularly important in this area? And one major benefit?
ADL: Ecommerce sites generate a huge amount of data, but many of them aren’t yet making the most of it. When we began building The Travel People lastminute.com group’s media business, which I oversee; we wanted to capitalise on our wealth of data to offer brand partners, both in and out of the travel sector, the opportunity to reach customers across our European network of online travel sites – including lastminute.com in the UK and France, Volagratis in Italy and Rumbo in Spain.
One major benefit of our model is being able to offer more curated and relevant content for our customers through the careful use of data. If a customer is preparing for a trip to South Africa, for example, we can target them with ads for sun cream, travel insurance or local winery tours, or offer them inspiring content to help them make the most of their holiday.
One of the topics I’ll be addressing at the expo is the new GDPR, coming into force this May (25th 2018). By requiring companies to be fully transparent about how they use their consumer data, the regulation will represent a big shift in the way many businesses work. But instead of viewing it as a challenge, we think it’s a great opportunity to protect our customers while continuing to add value to their browsing experience.
IR: What would one piece of advice you give to retailers looking to embrace innovative tools to manage customer data and audience opportunities?
ADL: The one piece of advice I would give is related not to the tools, but to the team who sits behind them. You can have the most cutting-edge technology in the world, but businesses will struggle to manage the data it provides without bright employees. With the digital economy growing at such a pace, talent has become hot property – and brands need to act now to ensure they have the right team in place.
Recruiting can be challenging for businesses competing against the tech giants – those who can’t afford to offer similar flashy perks. However, we think that having a sense of purpose and understanding how one’s role fits into the bigger picture, along with development opportunities and flexibility, is more important than getting free sandwiches.
IR: In your view, what’s the most important upcoming trend in multichannel/ecommerce that is set to change the way we shop – and sell? Why do you think this is so important?
ADL: Personalisation is set to fundamentally change the way brands interact with their customers, particularly as the technology used to deploy it becomes more and more advanced.
Predictive analytics will offer big opportunities to target not just based on audiences, but also on historical behavioural patterns. That’s something we’re currently exploring at The Travel People. For example, instead of just targeting people with ads for products or services we know they’ve expressed interest in in the past, we can predict who else might be interested in those products or services. This is really important to drive relevance, which in turn increases customer loyalty and return on investment (ROI).
IR: What are you most looking forward to at IRX (beyond your own presentation)?
AD: Having attended the Internet Retailing Conference last year, I’m really looking forward to discovering the new format of the Expo – particularly the innovation hub. And, of course, I’m excited to hear more from some brands I really admire, from Waitrose to Google.