Retailers face a data deficit in the wake of the pandemic

When stay-at-home orders took hold this past March, retail sales dropped dramatically — as everybody knows. But that change in customer behavior has resulted in a phenomenon that hasn’t been talked about much: the flow of sales information to retailers’ data repositories has dried up. That’s a significant problem, because a healthy flow of that information is the lifeblood of customer loyalty programs, AI-driven product recommendations, and a wide array of critical business decisions. What this change means is that many retailers – independent or chain, brick-and-mortar or e-commerce, startup or legacy – are now facing an information deficit. That’s what happens when the data and intelligence derived from customer transactions becomes scarce or unusable due to a sudden change in buyer behavior. Today the problem is widespread: Even businesses that had amassed great volumes of customer data before Covid-19 are finding themselves in the same cold-start position as businesses venturing into unknown markets or reaching out to new audiences. Read more at Harvard Business Review.