Shopping centre (3)

The retail industry is arguably one of the most successful sectors when it comes to taking advantage of digital technologies. By blending the digital and physical world, retailers have set themselves apart ensuring a consistent and personalised customer service no matter the format. For example, earlier this year Asda announced it was using in-store analytics to access customer behaviour and shopping patterns and as a result chose to digitise its coupons to help push more relevant deals to its customers.

Customers are vital to retail as without them, there would be no business at all. But with the amount of shopping destinations growing due to the rise of mobile and online shopping outlets such as Asos and Amazon, winning footfall is now becoming extremely difficult. All of the different routes to market mean that the battle to win customer footfall relies on retailers having full visibility across all channels of spend and activity, to allow them to see all of their customers throughout their purchase journeys.

There are many ways to optimise footfall. For example, supply chain solutions can help streamline stock management and automate manual processes. As a result of this, customer-facing services will see an improvement in ordering items and communication with the back-end. But one area that can make a huge difference is investment in in-store technology such as real-time Wi-Fi analytics.

By having Wi-Fi analytics inside the physical store retailers are able to understand actual customer behaviour, rather than rely on sales data which represents a rear-view mirror in many respects. Modern in-store analytics technologies can now tap into a store’s existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to capture precisely and in real-time how we all behave in stores – and fully anonymously. From passing-by outside to exactly where we go, how long we stay, and how we move around a store up to the register. The prolific use of smartphones enables the use of new and advanced technologies for this level of data collection. This can help retailers understand what customers like and dislike, and how to keep them coming back for more.

But this should only be part of the solution. To create customer loyalty and footfall, retailers need to create inclusive shopping experiences for their customers which seamlessly combine online and offline experiences, and provide a fluent path between each of these channels. If consumers are able to start their purchase path in one place and continue seamlessly in other, this creates the ease that they’re looking for and will result in loyalty and repeat visits.

By combining analytics and content in both online and offline media, retailers will be able to:

  1. Improve the shopping experience – enabling retailers to rapidly analyse shopper behaviour and to perfect their store layouts, ad displays and in-store and window marketing to achieve an optimal customer experience.
  1. Understand how the in-store experience impacts conversion – retailers should gain deeper insight into customer behaviour within the store. The tracking of shopping patterns and dwell times opens up countless possibilities for both shopping malls and individual stores for optimising in-store operations, such as store locations, service concept and store layout.
  1. Tailor in-store advertising and marketing – data analytics allow retailers to understand customers’ habits and behaviour in-store, helping businesses tailor in-store advertising and marketing to individuals, identify best ad locations, and focus on the best advertising times that bring in the highest return on investment.
Without footfall and customers, there would be no business at all so it is important for retailers to look at new ways to measure shoppers’ activity and optimise for the best possible customer experience, no matter where consumers choose to shop. Customer footfall and its derivatives – category visits, dwell times, paths and conversions – is a direct measure of success, so retailers need to take advantage of it properly to ensure they remain relevant and successful.

By Juha Mattsson, CMO at Walkbase