The modern retail environment is a far cry from that of just a couple of decades ago. The rise of online shopping and social media, along with a growing desire amongst consumers to understand and be understood by brands and businesses, means that many of us now have multiple interactions with a retailer before visiting a physical store.
Research conducted in December 2016, shows that Australian consumers still prefer the physical shopping experience. As they become more sophisticated and embrace the convenience of mobile technology, customers have also become more receptive to ways of enhancing their shopping experience, such as loyalty programs and integrated online-offline purchasing like click and collect.
Consumers’ willingness to share their personal information in exchange for a more personalised experience opens the door to richer behavioural and demographic insights. This enables store owners to make more informed, targeted and strategic decisions about store layout, merchandising and marketing.
One of the most exciting technologies capturing these consumer insights is location analytics, also known as location mapping. Using wi-fi technology, location mapping provides a highly effective means to close the gap between online and physical shopping experiences by leveraging the same types of behavioural analytics that e-commerce has been using for years.
Location mapping works by using in-store sensors and wi-fi access points to track the connection signal or ‘ping’ all wi-fi enabled mobile phones emit roughly every 15-30 seconds as they look for a network to join, even if no network connection is made. This allows stores to capture and analyse movements in and around the store, from how many people pass the entrance, to the highest traffic aisles and overall amount of time spent in-store.
Analysis of this real-time data provides a range of insights that can help drive operational efficiency: store owners can identify when and where staff resources are most needed, which promotions are producing the highest conversion rate and how to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Marketing activities can also be made more personalised, targeted and relevant with the use of location analytics. Traditionally loyalty program and point of sale data has been used to define customer offers, but this post-transaction approach is reactionary and may result in missed sales opportunities.
Now by combining the data with mapping technology, stores can analyse product preferences and shopping patterns to deliver real time offers via push notification, address weaknesses in merchandising and store layout and give customers a more intuitive, interactive experience – such as shopping list builders that sort items according to which aisle the customer is in.
Location analytics also enable marketers to extend the reach of their message to include a wider scope of potential customers like passers-by and visitors who haven’t yet purchased, and even identify when customers are leaving the store to buy a stocked product elsewhere.
The ability to track customer movements both in and outside the store has taken shopper analytics to a new level, empowering store owners and marketers to make better strategic decisions and improve their return on investment. Whilst this level of monitoring may pose a concern for privacy conscious consumers, it’s important to note that wi-fi signals do not access any data or personal information stored on the phone.
Location mapping and location analytics has become the new frontier for store owners, marketers and consumers. Armed with richer, more meaningful data, bricks and mortar outlets can now compete more effectively with their e-commerce rivals, and those who operate in both environments can easily integrate online and offline experiences. These insights also enable businesses to maximise their resources and promotional opportunities whilst simultaneously improving the customer experience – which ultimately leads to greater longevity, profitability and customer loyalty.
If change and meeting your customers’ needs is a constant, doing nothing isn’t an option. Be sure you are partnering with a company with the depth and breadth of expertise you require. Particularly one who can help you navigate end-to-end managed services, cloud, mobile and paperless retail technology. GPK Retail consultant, Cordell Quaine, is available for a no obligation discussion on how GPK can help you reduce operational costs, manage your IT footprint more effectively and create an exceptional experience for your customers. Contact: Phone 1300 000 475 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.