There have been plenty of reports regarding the latest Black Friday sales breaking shopping records… However, this is not at physical stores, it’s online purchasing that continues to rise. So, how can retailers boost their physical in-store visits?
Smart in-store analytics are helping retailers better understand customer counts and dwell times at their bricks-and-mortar sites, so strategic decisions can be made, and sale events reach their full potential.
We know that every piece of customer intelligence is critical for sales during key sales periods, yet many retailers are unaware of the rich intel that in-store analytics can deliver to help drive sales in real-time.
Using Who, What, Where, When and Why-Fi to uncover shopping habits
In-store analytics through cloud services can help retailers gain real-time and historical insight into customer foot traffic trends and patterns, by looking at Wi-Fi data gathered from the smartphones that enter the store.
It can reveal how many people enter the store daily, what times during the day lead to higher traffic levels, and the average length of visits.
Once you have such data on hand, finding opportunities to drive greater business is easier. For instance, by tracking passer-by movements you can seek to increase in-store traffic by testing different storefront displays, signage and campaign offers.
Marketing and sales can then better understand how to convert a passer-by to an in-store visitor. You can also seek to grow the length of shopper visits by testing different store layouts and merchandising, or even new customer engagement tactics such as arming your retail staff with smart and mobile CRM data – allowing them to tailor individual customer interactions based on their past shopping habits.
Better understanding of in-store traffic trends in real-time also allows you to more effectively roster staff, helping to ensure you’re not under or over-staffing on certain days of the week or during major sales periods.
Beyond this, location data is also essential for indoor mapping, allowing you to offer customers app-based turn-by-turn directions in major sites, or informing nearby customers of a special time-sensitive promotion via push notifications.
Personal data and the endless pursuit of privacy, push vs pull
For those querying: “Could tracking customer movements through my store put our business in breach of privacy laws?”, let’s clarify this now.
As the world moves towards a more open and online society, we’re right to concern ourselves with matters of personal data, how it’s handled and who has access to it.
There’s a stereotype that younger generations aren’t as concerned with data privacy and security. However, for this tech-savvy generation, there’s a big difference between voluntarily sharing moments of their life on social media and having brands violate their privacy. Failure to safeguard your customers’ privacy can result in losing your customers’ trust.
In short, monitoring customer foot traffic data won’t land you in hot water – doing so won’t capture or retain any personally identifiable data about a customer. However, it’s important to engage your customers in ways that aren’t perceived as intrusive. In fact, many customers have a strong desire for a more intimate and tailored shopping experience.
Context can be everything for a customer experience. If a customer has visited your website browsing shoes and added a pair to their shopping basket, offering a special on those same shoes when they visit your store in person is a pleasant surprise. If they receive an unsolicited message from a third party for an unrelated product using that same data, they are likely to consider this a breach of trust.
Data-driven insight is vital to allow brands to deliver the exceptional service and personalised experiences that customers expect. In parallel, as more data is collected, brands have an even greater responsibility to safeguard customers’ data and privacy.
Getting started on in-store analytics that meets critical security and privacy standards doesn’t necessarily need any new hardware – if you’ve partnered with a leading provider, you should be able to leverage your existing Wi-Fi network and add a simple cloud-based solution.
If you’re at the beginning of your in-store technology journey and have no idea where to start – especially when it comes to the potential pitfalls of collecting, storing and using data – as a first step, it’s important that retailers from small to large, deploy a single network infrastructure that meets PCI requirements. This is something that needn’t be difficult but is important not to overlook.
This single network will provide the foundation for adding capabilities such as in-store analytics, and a leading networking partner will work closely with you to design an overall solution that meets your needs.
A smart networking platform that offers you intelligence regarding in-store traffic and trends is an excellent way to put your Wi-Fi to work for boosting business and outperforming competitors, provided you are mindful of the balance between offering convenience versus imposing on the customer’s experience.
If they’re really smart, they might even give you an app and save you the work of building it yourself!
Pat Devlin is Director, South Pacific (ANZ), at Aruba, a HPE company.