How predictive marketing might give flight to Amazon's 'anticipatory shipping' service

TRP: What is the difference between SaaS predictive marketing and product recommendations?

PG: Many smaller retailers have taken the first step, which is great, by adopting product to product recommendations (such as, you purchased those red shoes, so if I give you 20% discount, you might buy this red belt). But this is really scratching the surface of what is possible.

True predictive marketing looks beyond what product someone is interested in, and understands the customer themselves, their behavior, and based on this understand things like their propensity to buy, driving more effective messaging.

For instance, if you know the person buying the red shoes has a propensity to buy additional products anyway, you don't need to offer a discount, just tell them about the product, saving 20% margin on that sale.

By combining data from every touch-point (email, web, transactions, POS, call centre, etc) you gain true customer insight and understanding and go far beyond simply reacting to what product they browse or buy.

TRP: Do you think more retailers will use predictive models to send customers freebies?

PG: Although this is very much a possibility, the suggestion that if a customer has not bought, they will get the product free of charge seems a dangerous precedent, as this may train a consumer to browse and not buy, thinking they will get a freebie….and indeed if one doesn't then arrive, may feel the retailer doesn't appreciate them.

TRP: Do you think potential buyers will be scared off by the thought that they might have products turning up at their front door if they view a certain page?

PG: I think it could have an impact on some consumers, such as those already concerned with "big brother" watching their every move, and it would definitely make you consider where you click.

However when the technology is used at the point just before you make the decision to buy, such as recommending you buy something when you need or want it, it should be very positive both for the consumer and for the retailer.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.