It may be warm outside still, but it is winter in every retailer’s planning department. Retailers already hear merry sounds of holiday shopper traffic as they ramp up for another busy season.
A key factor to ensuring inventory turns during the holidays is a strong sales team. For successful retailers, the best associates are in the right departments at the right times when the biggest sales opportunities are expected. During the holiday season, it’s more important than ever for retailers to empower employees to do what they do best: sell products and serve shoppers.
With seasonal employees in high demand last year, retailers should plan how their sales associates can work more efficiently and be successful brand ambassadors. Harnessing existing and historical traffic data can be a powerful tool in helping retailers get ahead with planning for the busy season.
Here’s are three ways traffic data can help drive positive results:
- Find the optimal shopper-to-associate ratio
Planning associate resources based on historic sales alone means that retailers are not planning according to their opportunities. However, using traffic data to plan staffing can allow retailers have an optimal shopper-to-associate ratio (STAR), a more productive method for labor optimization. STAR is simply your customer traffic divided by your labor hours.
Knowing how many customers are typically in a store at a given time on a given day means retailers can establish the optimal STAR for each location. For instance, during “power hours,” when traffic is at its highest and when there’s the greatest opportunity for sales conversion (the number of transactions divided by the shopper traffic), retailers must have the right associates on the sales floor to optimize customer engagement. It’s especially important as the modern retail store increasingly doubles as a hub for consumers to test products and consult expert sales staff.
- Provide a seamless online and offline shopping experience
Using the convenience of online shopping can be a way to help drive traffic to physical stores. But today’s consumers expect to shop both on and offline without thinking twice about it. By arming sales associates with traffic data, retailers can ensure these customers have a seamless experience no matter the fulfillment channel.
With buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) and buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) services growing in popularity, retailers will want to ensure that their store associates can meet the demand. Traffic data can provide associates with visibility into overall customer flow so they can make better decisions on when they should be fulfilling online orders versus engaging with directly customers on the floor.
- Recovery: restocking shelves and keeping up store presentation
During periods of heavy traffic, especially at the holidays, the shopping experience will be all the more important. Sales floors and fitting rooms may be messy and not restocked, making it difficult to find merchandise. Sales associates are also busier and unable to interact with each customer and lines at the point-of-sale (POS) may be longer. By looking at traffic data, retailers could ensure associates know the best times to restock and improve store presentation, allowing them to focus on engaging with customers and servicing long lines during the busiest times.
Consumers shop in stores for a variety of reasons—whether to see or experience a product firsthand, get information from knowledgeable sales associates, in-store attractions and more. Retailers just need to give them a good reason to do it by driving traffic into their stores.
British lifestyle and fashion brand, Jack Wills, implemented a program aimed at increasing sales conversions. Leveraging traffic analytics, the Jack Wills’ teams aligned activities and labor scheduling to the expected peaks in shopper numbers, and utilized tips on selling techniques during power hours to ensure maximum success for each store. These valuable insights helped the teams remove any guesswork from planning store operations and quickly became part of the daily routine for running the store and assisting customers and critically driving store performance. As a result of this program, sales increased by 39% and conversion by 52% versus a controlled group.
As the retail evolution continues, progressive retailers are thinking about how to use the physical store location to their advantage. Leveraging traffic data to observe the in-store shopper journey is a great starting point for reimagining the overall customer experience.
-Brian Field, Senior Director of ShopperTrak Retail Consulting Practice, Sensormatic Solutions