Home PublicationsData Innovators 5 Q’s for Shekar Raman, Co-founder and CEO of Birdzi

5 Q’s for Shekar Raman, Co-founder and CEO of Birdzi

by Becca Trate

The Center for Data Innovation spoke with Shekar Raman, co-founder and CEO of Birdzi. Birdzi powers shopper engagement in the grocery market by using personalization data to deliver digital advertisements and offers to the consumer. The Center spoke with Roman about leveraging consumer insights and the future of data personalization.

Becca Trate: What is data personalization?

Shekar Raman: Data personalization is the process of collecting user data and using it to create customized experiences for that individual user. Artificial intelligence and machine learning allow retailers to move from simple segmentation to true personalization–this may be personalized pricing, product recommendations, or recommendations based on health concerns.

Data personalization starts with the collection of data from users. This is why loyalty programs are so important in the retail sector. They allow users to identify themselves at checkout. From there, retailers can collect various types of data, such as basket size, price sensitivity, purchase history, and number of trips. Data is then aggregated and analyzed to create comprehensive user profiles, which provide valuable insights. The insights can then be used by the retailer to create a personalized experience for the customer. 

By partnering with the right Customer Intelligence Platform, retailers can leverage AI and machine learning to identify patterns and trends within the data, allowing them to make predictions and recommendations that are specifically relevant to each customer. As a result, businesses can deliver personalized product recommendations, targeted marketing campaigns, and relevant content. That leads to enhanced customer engagement, loyalty, and ultimately increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Trate: What benefits does data personalization present for consumers?

Raman: The key benefits of personalization are better customer experience, increased engagement, and increased relevancy, but what it really boils down to is a decrease in friction. Shoppers are facing many challenges today, and it is up to the retailer to ease their journey. The rising cost of groceries coupled with busy schedules makes grocery shopping a highly stressful experience for many consumers. Increased personalization is an opportunity for a retailer to gain the trust and loyalty of its customers.

By using the vast amount of data to deliver shoppers relevant and highly personalized offers, the retailer can alleviate some of the stress of rising costs and help save the customer’s time. There is no need for people to comb through hundreds of coupons looking for the ones they need if their local retailer has taken the initiative to send an email each week with offers that are most relevant or organize the digital coupons in the app according to relevancy. 

Trate: How can data personalization optimize retailer operations?

Raman: Data coupled with AI/ML-driven personalization frees up hundreds of hours of marketing manpower. Campaigns that took two weeks to plan can now be done almost instantaneously. By decreasing the marketing manpower, the retailer decreases their costs and increases their ROI. 

When analyzed properly, customer data can help inform merchandising decisions, pricing strategies, store layout and even staff scheduling. For example, when a retailer knows the times their MVP shoppers are in the store, they can staff the store to make sure those shoppers continue to have the experience they expect. It’s important for retailers to partner with a solution provider who is willing to slice and dice their data in a way that is useful to them in the form of easy-to-understand dashboards and scorecards.

Trate: What data sources does Birdzi use?

Raman: Birdzi ingests data feeds from the retailer, including purchase history, product details, pricing and customer information. This helps grocers understand customers’ shopping behaviors, preferences and purchase frequency at the individual level. 

Access to this data comes with great responsibility. Birdzi takes consumer privacy very seriously. We implement robust data security measures to protect the personal information we collect from misuse. Birdzi aggregates and anonymizes data to ensure that individual users’ identities are protected whenever possible. This way, it can analyze behavior and trends without compromising individual privacy, and it can also enable hyper-personalization to deliver the most relevant promotions and recommendations to shoppers to grow basket sizes & loyalty.

Trate: What is, in your opinion, the next pivot or use for data personalization in the retail industry?

Raman: The pivot is already happening: personalized pricing and personalized offers. Retailers like Weis and Coborn’s are using data personalization to give their shoppers weekly personalized offers from their entire store catalog. You read that right, they aren’t beholden to the vendor offers, allowing them to grow categories like private label and fresh all while giving customers offers that will increase basket size, spend and loyalty.

It’s essential to recognize that the future of data personalization in the retail industry will be influenced by technological advancements, changes in consumer behavior and evolving data privacy regulations. The success of any personalization strategy will depend on striking the right balance between delivering a superior shopping experience and respecting customer privacy and data protection, as well as finding the right personalization platform partner.

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