What if we considered the coronavirus lockdown as retail’s ‘ramp up’ period – accelerating the process of change that ‘new retail’ and ‘omnichannel’ have long promised, but been slow to deliver?
Industry experts around the world concur that nothing will be the same again. However there’s broad agreement that the future of retail post-COVID-19 – especially physical retail – will depend even more heavily on the use of data in strategic planning. Data will be essential to help retailers shape decision-making, become more agile and adaptable, and prevent costly mistakes being made.
Data is your ally
At the heart of retail’s ‘new normal’ will be traffic data – which can throw light on the biggest question being asking today – how will shoppers behave next? Retailers need to reignite shopper interest and retain loyalty like never before, making behavioural analytics imperative. There are also pressures to protect employees and customers by meeting a host of compliance requirements – a completely new operational framework that traffic data can support.
So as physical retail’s role continues to evolve, how can retailers be sure of a return on investment in their chosen in-store technology?
Planning for the future of retail
Our new report The Future of Retail addresses exactly this, setting out a step-by-step guide to building a business case for the most appropriate and cost-effective in-store updates. We consider the importance of collaborating across departments when planning to digitise and transform stores. In this way, Marketing, IT, Finance Supply Chain and Sales and Merchandising are aligned and working towards common strategic goals.
The report also explores the importance of selecting only the technologies that truly meet customer need, and will therefore deliver strong commercial wins. To understand those customer needs, retailers are rightly turning to their own and third party data to build a clearer picture of how their physical spaces are being used.
Instore customer experience
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, emerging digital technologies had been taking centre stage in the store. New customer expectations had been impelling retailers to create greater sophistication in their brick and mortar offer. Retailers’ focus was on improving functionality, convenience and the customer experience. Additions might include contactless payment options, beacons for proximity-based marketing, kiosk ordering, Internet of Things (IoT) for improved inventory management, and experiential enhancements such as virtual reality mirrors and interactive signage.
Now, at the dawn of an entirely new chapter for our sector, the pressure is even greater to harness data to decide what technology will truly improve the store and delight shoppers. Stores must continue to engage and meet the expectations of resurgent consumers post-lockdown, but costs must be even more tightly controlled as companies recover from a major hit to revenues.
Understanding the shopper journey
Traffic data unlocks a wealth of insight about your shoppers’ chosen journeys. By mapping these journeys using people counting technology, every store can understand how shoppers are using the space, at what time of the day or week conversions are most likely to happen, and where and when missed opportunities are occurring.
It may be that traffic is recorded to be high at certain times, but conversion rate low, in which case it’s possible that in-store tech could be used to convert faster, and improvements measured over time. If mobile payment terminals or kiosks for ordering online are introduced, how does shopper behaviour change? What is the impact on dwell time, sales per shopper, and average transaction values? Traffic data analytics provides the answers.
The aim is to provide the maximum service at the lowest cost, in relation to sales opportunities, so the benefits of new technology must be factored into this analytical work.
If retailers wish to see the complete picture of how shoppers are behaving in their stores, a traffic analytics tool is essential. With so much uncertainty ahead as the world’s shops re-open their doors, it’s reassuring to know that data can light the path to recovery.
Download our report today:
The Future of Retail: Building a business case for in-store technology