One of the ways that bricks and clicks are starting to merge is through a technology called beacons. It’s all the rage in retail right now. Acme places specialized transmitters in each of its stores. When a customer with an Acme app on his or her phone enters the store, the transmitter can push real-time, targeted promotional messages to that customer. Even better, the customer doesn’t have to access the app – it’s designed to wake up and alert the customer.
Cool stuff, and what better time to target customers then when they are inches from your cash register. Yet, not every promotional message generates a sale. Despite your best efforts, the customer leaves your store. Now what?

This is the interesting area where a start-up called Unacast is playing. It wants to marry the data you have on the customer who just left your store to online ad re-targeting platforms, so you can continue to advertise to these customers, in the hope of making the sale. Again, cool stuff.

But Unacast is taking this a step further. It is going around to all the manufacturers of these beacon transmitters and positioning itself as a central back-end data repository for this valuable shopping data. As a central repository, Unacast can watch where else the customer is going to gain both marketing and segmentation insights. Did the customer go to a competitor? Better re-target with your best deal then. Does the customer go to discount stores or high-end retailers? A retailer can not only learn a lot more about its customers, but is better able to serve them highly customized advertising messages as well.

It’s a data bonanza that will yield endless benefits, and Unacast is moving fast to lock up this opportunity. That’s important because there’s typically only room for one central clearinghouse in a market.

This is a model you might apply to your own vertical. If you are seeing numerous companies collecting similar pots of proprietary data, chances are there is both a need and an opportunity to be the central repository. Why you? Why not? You’re established, know the data business and you’re a neutral player. Central clearinghouse opportunities typically go to the fleet of foot, especially now because the value of data is much more broadly appreciated. Do you have your running shoes on?