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In recent decades, the proliferation of digital processes and devices produced data of an unprecedented scale and complexity. Online retailers have long harnessed massive amounts of evidence from their digital interactions with customers to understand their businesses better. However, while e-commerce still only represents a fraction of the retail industry in the United States, consumers increasingly engage in mobile digital interactions as part of their instore experience. In this environment, big data analytics are offering increased potentials for brick and mortar.
Making Sense of Retail Data
Digital point of sale systems are a significant source of quality granular data, and POS data is utilized in some capacity by most retailers for stock management and sales forecasting. However, retailers can access incredibly diverse sources of data. These include in-store video cameras, people counters, guest WiFi, social media interactions and personal data provided by customers. Some retailers also employ dedicated data collection devices, such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and Bluetooth Beacons.
Many technology firms provide big data solutions to retail that collect, synthesise and analyse this data to make it accessible as actionable reports. Silicon Valley based RetailNext was an among the first technology start-ups to provide comprehensive data collection and analysis solutions to retail. Since then, leading brands such as American Apparel, Mont Blanc, and Brookstone employ their services. The insights from big data analytics give brands greater control over their business and marketing strategies.
Location, Location, Location
Even as advances in technology provide a myriad of new business solutions, location remains the mainstay concern of brick and mortar retail. As customers increasingly turn to their smartphones to help them make decisions and plans while shopping, mobile devices provide an invaluable source of geolocation data that illuminates customer behaviour.
Bluetooth beacon technology pinpoints a customer at a particular location and sends targeted offers directly to their smartphone. These offers can be tailored to the customer and their location – whether they are in store, nearby, or even shopping with a competitor. Industry leaders such as Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Urban Outfitters and Timberland employ beacon technology as part of their marketing strategies. Location based marketing enhances customer engagement with relevant promotional content. However, it also provides an incentive for customers to consent to the collection of insightful geolocation data from their smartphones
Maximising Store Design with Footfall Analysis
Lithuanian based technology start-up and Tebo partner SemSeye harnesses beacon technology for their advanced footfall analysis system. Their internet of things system combines smart sensors connected to a cloud server with big data analytics to provide targeted real-time information on customer behaviour in-store. SemSeye is especially useful in maximising the performance of store layout and visual merchandising. By tracking customer foot traffic, it determines which products attract the most interest and what kind of displays and store fixtures encourage the most customer