Retail is becoming increasingly data-driven – accurate data helps develop the most apt services

Retail is becoming increasingly data-driven – accurate data helps develop the most apt services

Data on customers’ purchases is used to develop product ranges and services that make our daily lives easier. In the S Group, the data processing time for purchase histories is to increase from two to five years. The change will take place at the start of September, and it corresponds to the industry’s common practice. The longer processing time will help improve services that answer to the changing needs of the co-op members.


How much do we eat vegetables? What is the degree of domestic origin in my groceries, and what about my carbon footprint? An electronic warranty receipt stays intact and safe even as the years go by. In the online grocery store, the smart shopping list will suggest products that I buy often, and it will remind me of groceries I might need this time.

These are examples of the services that make our lives easier, which the S Group has developed using customers’ purchase data. The S Group collects data on purchases of those co-op members who use their S-Etukortti card. The data is used to calculate the amount of bonus, other benefits and their payments, as well as to improve the in-store product ranges and digital services.

Starting from September, the current two-year processing time of purchase data will increase. Data is kept for its intended use for as long as needed, although for no longer than five years. This processing time is common practice in the retail sector. The required period for storing data is assessed annually.

From the start of 2021, the S Group will also collect product-level purchase data in the tourism and hospitality sector. Until now, purchase data has only been collected on the level of sum totals. Hotels and restaurants also want to serve different customers more personally. By using purchase data, customers’ habits and wishes can also be considered in digital services. For example, the kind of food a customer orders at a restaurant, the hotel room features they like, or on which floor their favourite room is.

“Data helps us understand our customers better. Above all, the goal of increasing the period we keep purchase data is to bring more services that make the daily lives of co-op members easier, as well as to develop our range of products to be as suitable as possible,” says Pekka Litmanen, Customer Account Director from S Group.

Around 380,000 customers already monitor their purchases – half feel that it affects their decisions as consumers

The S-mobiili Omat ostot service already has 380,000 users who monitor their consumption. Half the users say that the service has affected their purchasing behaviour*.

The service promotes both economical and value-based consumption. The most popular features of the service include monitoring your own purchases, monitoring your vegetable consumption and the domestic content calculator. Its newest feature is the family share, which allows those in the same co-op member household to view the entire household’s purchases. In the autumn, the service will also provide information on the health and nutritional values of your groceries.

“The Omat ostot service is an example of a service our co-op members appreciate, because it uses the purchase data to give valuable information to the user themselves. To some of our co-op members, being able to comprehensively monitor their purchase behaviour is one of the main reasons for using the S Group services,” notes Pekka Litmanen, Customer Account Director.

More and more customers are aware of customer data processing

The share of customers who find it useful to use your personal purchase data has grown. Customers are also increasingly more aware of being able to control the use of their customer data, as shown by the S Group’s customer survey**.

“When it comes to processing customer data, transparency is vital to us. Customers are increasingly aware, but there are still some whose knowledge of their rights is insufficient, and active customer communication is important in this,” says Pekka Litmanen, Customer Account Director.

A clear majority of the respondents considers it useful that purchase data is used for different development projects, targeted communication, and improving services. Development of stores’ product ranges is thought to be the most useful feature (82% of respondents). Three out of four respondents consider that using purchase data and identifying consumer trends are useful for developing new services. Approximately 70% of respondents find the development of services such as Omat ostot to be useful.

If a customer wishes, they always have the right to forbid the collection of specific purchase data. In such a case, the sum total that accrues bonus points is kept for bonus payments, but beneficial services that require specific purchase data such as the Omat ostot service or the smart shopping list cannot be used.

According to the S Group’s customer survey**, 54% of respondents feel that they have been sufficiently informed about the processing of their personal customer data. 59% of the respondents know that they can ask for a copy of their personal data kept in the co-op member registry. 52% of the respondents know that a customer can control the use of their personal data with permissions and prohibitions.

The S Group uses customer communication, videos and renewed data protection pages in which matters concerning data protection have been clarified in simple language to tell customers about the rights .

Further information:

Pekka Litmanen, Customer Account Director, S Group, pekka.litmanen(at), +358 (0)45 670 0515

*The information is based on the Omat ostot service’s feedback survey from January 2020.

**In total, 3,316 S Group customers took the survey, and the respondents are a good representation of the S Group’s co-op member and customer registry. The survey was conducted in March 2020.

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