Earlier this year, Google made an announcement that sent shockwaves across the digital marketing space: Chrome will end support for third-party cookies.

In its blog post, the search company wrote that it intends to “make third party cookies obsolete” in Chrome. Advertisers will no longer be able to track users online, which means businesses won’t have the ability to serve up targeted ads.

As such, any business that relies on Google and third-party cookies should rethink their strategies and find ways to reach and engage customers directly.

Enter first-party data

The most effective way to accomplish that is through the use of first-party data, which refers to data that customers have proactively shared with businesses. Unlike third-party tracking, in which marketers track customers in the background, collecting first-party data is a collaborative act, and customers are fully aware of what they’re sharing.

When leveraged correctly, first-party data enables companies to create rich profiles, so they can tailor the experience of their customers.

The act of gathering first-party data can also build trust between businesses and their customers. Actively involving customers in the data collection process minimizes the “creep” factor that people feel when they’re passively being followed. When companies are upfront about the information they’re gathering, customers will be much more likely to share details about themselves.

When talking about brick-and-mortar companies, they have a massive opportunity with first-party data. Physical locations offer an excellent environment for engaging customers and collecting their information.

How to collect first-party data

Now that we’ve covered the importance of first-party data, let’s look at some of the ways that businesses with physical locations can collect it.

Offer convenience

One of the best ways to encourage customers to share their data is to provide convenience. Make their lives easier by offering tools and services that they can use as they interact with businesses.

Consider what Carmila, one of the leading retail property companies in Europe, is doing.

The company was attentive towards the increasing expectations of consumers every time they visit shopping centers and retailers. Today’s shoppers do not just visit malls as they want to make a purchase; they do it as they are also looking for entertainment options, attend events, and socialize with others.

As such, Carmila was looking to make sure that customers can get stellar experiences inside its properties. The company was looking to provide the best WiFi services to customers to make them feel at home. Along the same line, Carmila needed a state-of-the-art solution for the brands that had stores in its properties, so that retailers could market to shoppers more effectively.

Incentivize customers to share their information

Another tactic for collecting first-party data? Offering incentives. Businesses can create special discounts and offers that customers can redeem after they provide their information.

The mattress retailer PerDormire is a great example of this tactic in action.

The brand launched a WiFi initiative to promote its in-store rewards program and customers were able to sign up through PerDormire’s welcome portal. This initiative allowed the company to collect personal customer data and preferences while remaining compliant with GDPR.

Offer exclusivity

One other idea that businesses could implement is to create unique, exclusive experiences as a means to collect first-party data.

Certain luxury brands are implementing this quite well. At the Prada Group, sales associates will receive a notification when a returning customer walks in so as to enable them to provide improved customer attention. This type of custom services will eventually help The Prada Group better customize the experience for their in-store shoppers, which will eventually boost loyalty and result in stronger relationships with their customers.

First-party data are the #1 marketing priority

Gone are the days when businesses can get away with silently tracking customers. In an age when privacy concerns are paramount and consumers are savvier than ever, businesses need to be creative with their efforts to get to know their customers.

Focusing on first-party data enables companies to collect high-quality data ethically. If businesses haven’t done so yet, they have to make first-party data a marketing priority.

Need help launching your first-party data initiatives in-store? Cloud4Wi can help. Get in touch to learn about our suite, which has helped companies like The Prada Group, Campari, and Burger King get to know customers better while boosting their brand experiences at the same time.