The enormous challenge of turning data into sales at the retail counter

The Next Web today ran a thought-provoking piece from Ritika Puri examining how mobile is bridging the data gap for brick-and-mortar retailers. Online vendors can leverage a tremendous amount of data to track their customers and deliver highly targeted ads on PCs, Puri suggests, but smartphones and (to a much lesser extent) tablets can erase the line between online and offline marketing. Mobile gadgets allow brick-and-mortar stores the chance to A) communicate with their customers anywhere and in real time, B) develop logs and analyze those communications, and C) send personalized, targeted ads to users on the go (including in the store).

That’s all true, of course, and the amount of data available to retailers will increase exponentially as location-based mobile marketing matures and as technologies like Bluetooth low energy (BLE) take root, helping store owners to track the behaviors and movements of shoppers as they walk through the store. The big challenge for those retailers won’t be in compiling that data, but figuring out how to make sense of it and how to use it. There are tremendous opportunities for mobile advertising networks, analytics providers and a host of others who can help them do so, and location-based mobile marketing may become the most effective kind of marketing ever. But the road to get to that point is a very long one.