In-Store Analytics Slams the Door on Guesswork

Joe Skorupa
Editor at Large
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By Joe Skorupa
Stores have difficulty detecting shoppers and measuring their behavior anywhere except at the cash register. Compared to the online world, brick-and-mortar retailers are flying blind until the final moment of purchase. Because of this practice many business decisions are based on past sales, educated guesswork, and gut instinct honed by observing the success of previous guesses.
The result is that the shopping experience is on-target sometimes for consumers, off-target other times, and disconcertingly inconsistent in general.
Fortunately, there is a better way. In the last few years there has been an explosion of new capabilities that deliver in-store analytic tools to retailers, which enable them to streamline the path to purchase in ways that are similar to how it is done online. WiFi networks, mobile devices, location sensors and mobile apps are rolling out in stores today. The data-gathering potential from these tools can provide retailers with the same firepower that has made online shopping so successful.
In this RIS Custom Research report “In-Store Firepower” we examined in-store analytic capabilities and the impact it is having on brick-and-mortar business performance. We found that retailers currently believe they are on the lowest step of the in-store analytics maturity ladder, but the pace of adopting enabling technologies is picking up speed.
Coupling these data-gathering technologies with advanced analytics tools will shed light on in-store blind spots and enable stores to support a new era of fact-based decision making.
Here are key findings from the research report:

  • Today, less than half (44%) of retailers say they have shopper WiFi networks in stores, but 28% say they will add them in the next 18 months. The addition of this number of retailers will make shopper WiFi in stores a mainstream feature in retailing.
  • Once WiFi networks are in place retailers understand that new data gathering capabilities suddenly become available, such as anonymous mobile phone tracking to provide insight into shopper behaviors. Today, only 16% track mobile phones anonymously in stores, but 38% say they plan to roll it out in 18 months.
  • BLE beacons continue a long, slow roll out in retail. Today, just 3% of retailers say they have BLE beacons in stores, but a sizable 28% say they plan to roll them out in 18 months.
  • When asked for a self-assessment, 72% of retailers say they have basic in-store tracking and analytic abilities, which can be tapped by linking traffic counts to POS data to improve store labor scheduling and optimize productivity.
  • Interestingly, no one says they have an advanced level of in-store tracking and analytic capabilities, which refers to a combination of mobile phone tracking, BLE beacons, mobile apps, RFID and other methods to support real-time analytics.
  • For retailers who have in-store WiFi (or will have it within 18 months) the mobile phone capability that is highest on the priority list for gathering data is the ability to track in-store coupon redemption (44%) after it has been offered to shoppers. Second on the list, at 39%, is loyalty program check-in.
  • The top three retail processes that are currently based on data generated by in-store technologies and linked to advanced analytic tools are: store operations at 74%, labor management at 68% and marketing/promotions at 55%.

Despite inherent strengths, brick-and-mortar stores can feel disconnected to shoppers from the experiences they find online. This disconnect can lead to disappointment, friction, frustration and, ultimately, brand damage.
Consumers expect their shopping experience (both in-store and online) to be consistent. This means that retailers need new ways to gather in-store data and use it to shift to fact-based decision making that streamlines the 360-degree shopping experience.
To read the “In-Store Firepower” custom research report, which has a comprehensive set of charts and analysis, click here.


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