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Improving the bottom line with in-store analytics

Over the past fifteen years we’ve all witnessed the transformation of shopping brought about by technology, with the spectacular rise of e-commerce being possibly the best example. While we can attribute the growth of online shopping to some obvious factors (for example, they’re open 24 hours a day 365 days a year; you can shop from work; you don’t have to worry about driving there), one of the lesser known but fundamental drivers of online retail’s success is the universal use of data to measure, test, and ultimately optimize every aspect of the customer experience.

Indeed, in the e-commerce world it is considered mandatory to closely measure and respond to the actual customer behavior inside your store. Marketers in this industry are continuously looking at reports of where their shoppers went on the site, what products they looked at, and what factors caused them to actually buy. These marketers adjust their stores in the face of these observations and sell more as a result. Analytics are a fundamental part of this success.

Those companies retailing in the physical world have been unable to take advantage of metrics in quite the same way. That’s because we didn’t have the tools to directly observe and quantify customer behavior in our stores. As a result the brick-and-mortar retail world & travel retail have been limited to crude instruments of measurement like secret shopping and surveys, methods that are fraught with error, bias, imprecision, and inefficiency. But we’ve used them because there is nothing better.

Until now.

In recent years computer technology has advanced to the point where we have the ability to measure and report on customers’ behavior inside physical stores, just like they do in the e-commerce world. This trick is accomplished by pulling in data from many potential sources like in-store video cameras, your point-of-sale system, time-and-attendance software, Wi-Fi trackers, RFID tags, smart shelf sensors, and more. All these data are mashed up in an application that correlates and presents them so that ordinary people like you and me can make sense of them without having to have a Ph.D. in statistics. We call this category of technology products in-store analytics or sometimes real-time store monitoring.

The benefits are tremendous. Retailers are using this kind of technology today to improve sales through the understanding of traffic & client behavior, reduce theft, cut unnecessary costs, and improve the customer experience. All by making smarter decisions on how to run their stores based on their genuine knowledge of what shoppers actually do in their stores and how those shoppers react to changes and improvements these retailers make. This is crucial for us in the travel retail world where the purchase decision is very time sensitive.

By Hanan Fraysse, Regional Sales Director EMEA & Travel Retail – RetailNext

About the author

Hanan Fraysse is a long-time professional in the luxury retail industry & travel retail. For more than twenty-two years she has held sales, marketing, and business development management roles for the likes of L’Oreal Luxury Division, Unilever, Tumi & L’Occitane, and her focus areas have included international business development, e-commerce, and most recently travel retail. Hanan is presently Regional Director for the EMEA and Travel Retail for RetailNext, the leader in real-time store monitoring. She can be reached directly at hanan@bviretailnext.com.