By Mani Gopalaratnam
With in-store retail and ecommerce competing for customers’ business, it’s more important than ever for brick-and-mortar outlets to understand their customers’ behavior to remain competitive. So far, online retailers have had a leg up in this department – with vast structured data from online transactions, online retailers are able to create more agile, targeted marketing and CRM programs.
Fortunately for brick-and-mortar retailers, the advance of in-store technology and sophisticated analytics has produced more actionable intelligence on in-store behavior. With this insight, owners and managers can embrace the same data-driven approach that’s been powering ecommerce businesses.
For example, where online retailers can track customers as they click from page to page, stores can now map a similar digital footprint for each customer based on their smartphone’s Wi-Fi connectivity. This is possible, as one Xchanging study determined, because about 62 percent of shoppers keep Wi-Fi enabled on their phones when in-store. Smart devices, such as sensors on shelves or in baskets, and camera footage produce raw data behind each customer’s journey in-store. And, data from loyalty card transactions can connect the dots from in-store behavior to purchase patterns.
The key to making sense of all this data is applying analytics, which mines and translates the data into actionable intelligence. In the past, the information retailers deemed important was all about purchases, but never about the journey taken to arrive at the buying decision. Using analytical solutions, owners and managers can paint a picture of the full customer experience, from the time they enter the store to checkout, and what factors influence their purchase decision.
While there are numerous metrics that illuminate the customer journey, here are a few every brick-and-mortar retailer should be paying attention to:
Foot Traffic and Shopper Flow
Do your customers frequent the interior rows of your store? Do they group around a certain point of interest? Data insights illuminate where customers spend the most time in a store, allowing owners and managers to take action. Let’s say, for example, that a store’s more popular and profitable items are located on the right, but data indicates customers typically turn left immediately after entering. With this insight, managers can reconfigure the floor setup to direct more traffic to the left side of the store.
How much time customers spend in-store, or at a certain display indicates their level of attention or interest in a certain item. If customers spend several minutes in one area of the store, but sales for those items located in the section remain flat, managers may consider rotating in different products.
Stocking in-demand, relevant items is key to increasing sales. And to do that, you need to know what customers value most. Sensors can record what types of products customers are looking at based on size, color, product category and other factors. And, managers can use these insights to order specific products, say medium-sized blue pants, based on what customers are most likely to purchase. Taking this a step further, retailers can send personalized emails to customers informing them when these products are in-stock.
Reaction and Sentiment
Cameras can do more than track customer movement. Through facial recognition programs, they can actually capture customers’ reactions to certain displays. If sales are high for a display that incites a positive reaction, managers can determine what aspects of the display could translate to others throughout the store to move customers along the purchase path.
Data insights are key to remaining competitive in the retail world. And, as digital solutions evolve, brick-and-mortar outlets will continue to close the customer insight gap with online retailers. The key will be fully embracing a data-driven approach. Those that do will thrive, and those that don’t will be left behind.