Retail Analytics Bridging Online and Offline

Retail AnalyticsBy Sanjeev Sularia

Offline and online have reached a point where they need to connect to create the seamless shopping experience consumers are demanding. The big issue, however, is that retailers still approach online and offline as two different businesses, which is smothering growth and innovation.o

Remember when everyone was predicting that the future was online shopping and the malls would be closing their doors? Well, now it seems that online retailers need brick-and-mortar stores to give consumers the omni-channel shopping experience they want.

The truth is that for consumers, online and offline have become a blur. Shoppers are happy as long as they get the deal and the product they want. For example, if a customer is buying a pair of shoes for a special occasion and finds the pair she wants online, maybe she isn’t quite sure about the color. She visits her local store to check them out. They haven’t got her exact size. She goes home, purchases them online, and picks them up in-store the next day with no delivery charge.

Omni-channel retailing allows consumers to start a purchase in the channel of their choice and complete it in a possibly different channel. They may see an item they like in the shopping mall and purchase it on the way home on their smartphone. There are some retailers that are ahead of the curve when it comes to omni-channel. Apple is a great example, providing consumers with a complete end-to-end shopping journey and an interactive experience that make you feel part of the Apple family.

Amazon astonished many when it announced it was moving into brick and mortar bookstores with the opening of its first in Seattle’s University Village last year. But the retail giant isn’t the first to move into a physical presence, and won’t be the last.

Understanding that we have the traditional shopping mall and the online shopping experience working together, we must work on providing the consumer what they want now, and start to guess what they will need in the future. The key to this is smart analytics. 

Retailers need to analyze behavior across channels to look closely for patterns in past transactions, user profile similarities, common demographics, as well as trends in price movements and product category sales. By successfully analyzing this data retailers can better understand the purchasing intent and drivers of their customers, enabling the creation of a customized shopping experience to drive sales. Customers benefit from this seamless omni-channel experience as they get a simple and efficient buying process.

Retailers can also draw on advanced data analytics to plot the pricing landscape based on order value and transaction frequency. This type of analysis includes monitoring new and returning customers to look for trends in products and pricing, as well as regional differences that may come into play based on whether they are a new or existing customer.

Big data is changing the face of retail and analytics is essential to staying on top of shopper behavior, in real time and at a granular level. What is clear is that organizations large and small are tapping into the power of smart analytics to better understand their markets and draw in new shoppers.

In an increasingly competitive landscape where it is hard to win and keep new customers, retail analytics has to be the answer to continually improve performance, and the bottom line.