As we enter the New Year, brick-and-mortar retailers will quickly find themselves looking for new ways to attract customers and convert casual browsers into repeat customers. While the online retailer may seem to be disrupting the industry - and may even unseat in-store retailers - the data tells another story.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce accounted for only 11.2% of total U.S. retail sales at the close of Q3 2019. This evidence serves as a reminder that traditional retail stores still hold leverage in revenue and are not yielding their position anytime soon despite what experts say.
To attract and retain customers, brick and mortar retailers are increasingly investing technology to provide enhanced shopping experiences that e-commerce cannot replicate.
Here are two technology trends retailers should consider to optimize their shoppers’ in-store experiences:
Leveraging WiFi for in-store shopper analytics
It’s no surprise that e-commerce activity is easier to measure and analyze – but that doesn’t mean traditional retailers can’t harness analytics to obtain valuable insights, too. With mobile devices attached to the hips of practically every shopper, this creates a ripe opportunity to measure and analyze shoppers’ patterns, behaviors, and preferences.
WiFi analytics empower retailers to decipher whether the customer is a first-time or frequent visitor. For repeat customers, it can provide valuable insights about how much time they’ve spent previously and where they spent it – allowing retailers to tailor the shopper’s experience accordingly.
Additionally, analytics can help retailers deploy sales teams at exactly the right time, reducing the annoyance of a hovering (or, in some cases, absent) sales associate. Now a customer can get treated to “white glove” service when ready – all because the business can see what is happening in the store in real-time.
Anticipating customer needs and behaviors
Consistently exceeding expectations and understanding a customers’ needs, wants, and preferences is what any business aims to achieve, especially when it comes to customer retention. Simply asking “who is coming into their business,” “how long they are staying,” and “what are they doing there” sets a foundation for anticipating what a customer wants to get out of their in-store experience.
As a result of uncovering and leveraging these behavioral insights, savvy retailers are increasingly relying on smart technologies – including video surveillance and cameras – to improve their in-store offerings and learn more about their customers. Today, security cameras are so much more than surveillance cameras that monitor for break-ins. Now, they’re smart devices that can capture patterns and valuable insights that can help drive strategy and decision-making.
Armed with the ability to observe foot traffic patterns and gauge customer reactions at their physical locations, retailers are learning more about the customer's intent to purchase. With video surveillance, a customers’ movements and reactions can show where they head first, what excites them – and even what doesn’t. By learning more about shoppers’ preferences, retailers can maximize the placement of sales associates, their in-store displays, and even develop individual promotions.
Additionally, as more and more shoppers are connecting to WiFi when shopping, retailers are finding new ways to spur additional revenue streams. One way they are doing this is by growing a “captive audiences” through WiFi log-in splash pages, where they can expose advertisements, coupons or other marketing material to customers.
In order to stand out amid the fierce competition, traditional retail stores must update their operating philosophy and embrace technological transformations to maximize customer loyalty, grow revenue, and establish a strong future-proof technological foundation. Passing up the opportunity to strengthen customer relationships and increase revenue through optimized retail environments could lead to an inevitable end, however, the future is bright for those that aim to create destinations for shoppers – not just stores.
-Christian Nascimento, Vice President, Product and Premise Services, Comcast Business