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Five Analytical Tools Retailers Must Have For Survival

By Ensign on 14th Apr 2020

retail analytics article

Marketing 101 involves analysis of your online traffic, from your website through to your social platforms; without detailed analytics marketing teams wouldn’t know where to implement changes and what to improve on.

If you are a retailer, then these are challenging times. Covid-19 has all but brought down the retail industry and the bounce-back to come, in the near future we hope and pray, must be significant and impactful. Right now retail bosses are looking at their business models and wondering if the world of retail will return to previous levels, whilst exploring areas of their business where they can make improvement and capitalise on the surge of consumer spend that we will surely see when life returns to normality.

For retailers, having a wealth of detailed data/information about their customers is a minefield; typically retailers do not understand how to acquire such data and if they did then understanding how to analyse and manipulate that data in order to make informed and educated business decisions presents them with another real challenge. Without the data there is simply no understanding of where to improve. 

In plain English analytics help businesses to make better decisions. As always, the devil is in the detail, and obtaining the detail of a customers’ demographics, in-store behaviour, previous purchasing patterns, and even their on-line browsing activity, well this type of data is invaluable to a retailer. Analytics, such as understanding heat-map flow and location dwell times, can help a retailer to redefine and optimise the store layout – these are often small detailers that will have been overlooked, but when armed with the data can lead to significant improvements which drive consumer spend and loyalty.

We say cash is king, but in retail the real king is data, as without the data then aspirational growth levels don’t ever move on from aspirational to reality.

From research we’ve conducted, the average UK retailer knows little more about what’s happening in their store beyond the simple count of footfall-in and footfall-out. Yes, this is essential knowledge to have in order to determine average spend per customer, and patterns of incline and decline to traffic, yet it’s just the basics of what you could understand; with the right tools that is.

The technology available to retailers has now reached a point where can collect significant volumes are real-time data, that is actionable to improve performance, customer service and profitability; using everyday technologies such as your Wireless network, Low Energy Bluetooth beacons, and even you network based security surveillance cameras. All you need is the right partner to deploy the solution you need, supported by a simply to use graphical-user-interface; or dashboard to me and you. 

Here we have compiled FIVE key types of data that you MUST be recording, reporting on, and analysing across each of your retail outlets. If you aren’t doing this then you can be sure your competition either are or have plans in place to do so. As many retailers experienced in 2018-2019, standing still is not an option in such a fast-paced environment as UK retail.

 

1) Heat Maps and Customer Dwell Time

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Heat maps are used to determine areas of activity density, and this is important to understand for your shop floor. Heatmaps can be created by taking data from a number of technologies, including your customer smartphone, your wireless network, LE Bluetooth beacons, or your surveillance cameras. 

Heatmaps are essential to assist with optimising your store design/lay-out and help you to build and understanding consumer behavioural patterns when inside your venue. Sadly, many retailers retain the store design from day 1 and never capitalise on the opportunity available to them, and all because they don’t have the right data. Experimenting with your floorplan can lead to major gains. 

You will have noticed that every few years your preferred supermarket will make significant floor plan changes, you tend to notice this when the milk aisle for the last 24 months is now 7 aisles away from where you expected it to be, and most supermarkets accept that this change to design isn’t built on intelligence, but rather with optimism that it’ll encourage shoppers to discover new items in store.

By basing design changes on intelligence garnered from heat maps a retailer can mitigate risk and base re-design on real patterns of behaviours by their shoppers. Imagine knowing for sure the highest traffic areas of your store and then placing your key promotions in that location – win, win, win.

 

2) Customer Footfall & 3) Customer Journey

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For many stores counting and reporting on customer footfall is part of everyday store management, yet any knowledge beyond simply the base numbers is unknown. By using an analytics-platform you can track the number of visitors to a specific promotion or display you are running, allowing you to gain factual knowledge about the success of your campaign. You can also start to understand where exactly your customers go within your store, and at what frequency do people explore the back-corner areas of your store, or maybe how many move from ground floor, to 1st floor, to 2nd floor.

For the bigger retailers, maybe those operating concession stands, an analytical solution can help retail you to track the performance of individual concessions and map this data against their turnover. This helps retailers to place top performing and popular vendors in the prime store positions to improve the customer experience and to maximise on profits.

 

4) Real-Time Visitors

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Retail analytics don’t just optimise the customer experience, they can help to reduce operating costs too. Using an analytics dashboard, managers can plan staff rotas in the most efficient and cost-effective way; this allows store managers to be far more dynamic with the placement of their staff, depending upon the activity in store at any given time.

Your retail analytics dashboard can create real-time alerts when traffic exceeds, or drops below, pre-configured levels. This means moving staff around store, or even allowing staff to leave early or maybe requesting additional staff report for duty, call all be done in real-time and assist with maximising store productivity levels.

5) Direct Customer Engagement

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Imagine being able to communicate directly with your individual visitors, without approaching them on your shop-floor and even after they leave your store. You can ask your visitors for valuable thoughts and feedback, allowing you to deliver location-based marketing campaigns that improve the visitor experience and build loyalty and retention; both of which improve your bottom line.

With our retail analytics platform you can use location-based marketing to engage your customer throughout your venue; trigger campaigns for when visitors enter or exit your venue, automatically send campaigns when visitors haven’t returned to your location for a period of time, and deliver messages when visitors reach a dwell time threshold in a particular area – maybe an incentive to buy a product they’ve been browsing for a period of time but haven’t as yet appeared to make a clear buying decision.

The retail industry is becoming more and more aware of the need to keep up with the Joneses, and more and more aware of the need for new innovative technologies to allow them to do so. The need for detailed analytical data in retail is no longer simply a ‘nice to have’, it's critical to survival.

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