The high street lives on
A few years back, there were many people saying that the days of the high street store were limited and that we would all soon be shopping exclusively online. Yet data shows this isn’t the case and that people still want to shop from a store where possible, even when they have researched an item online. But in order to keep those customers coming back, stores need to create a better in-store experience and add value for both themselves and their customers. And the key to doing this is the use of in-store analytics.
According to a series of studies from the US, 71% of shoppers report that if an item is available in-store as well as online, they are most likely to buy it in the shop. People want to be able to see, smell or touch the item before making the purchase and still value using all of their senses, regardless of the product.
At the same time, people who use digital devices and systems while in store tend to buy more than those who don’t. In fact, these tech-savvy people convert at a 20% higher rate than those who simply walk around a shop without any tech being used. So while they are very much in the habit of using their smartphone or other devices, they are happy to pair it with the in-store experience.
Combining tech with shopping
It seems that if stores want to offer a better in-store experience for their customers, then the right use of tech is the way forward. But what is the right tech to use and how can stores monitor its effectiveness?
One growing area is the use of devices offered by the store but research from the fashion industry shows that this might not always be the best approach. Over half of those spoken to said they would rather use their own smartphone or tablet to see an item’s price, discovering further information about a product or to check item availability versus using an unmanned device in the store or even talking to a person. And nearly half of those spoken to would even prefer to checkout with their mobile or use it to find an item in the store.
The answer seems to be offering ways to allow customers to use their own devices around the store to find out the information they want. This also has the potential for improving the customer experience at the same time. The use of text alerts is one example where a store can send a customer a voucher for a limited time for a product they are standing close to but haven’t yet bought.
Using analytics to achieve this
In order to do this, in-store analytics software is needed. This allows the store to have an anonymous identity for that shopper due to the Wi-Fi connect setting on their smartphone. The phone will automatically reach out for Wi-Fi hotspots in any location and uses its own digital identity to make that connection. This data can be combined with visual information from CCTV cameras to gain insight into what the customer is doing.
Therefore, if the customer has picked up and returned an item and is still looking in the area, a store might text them a voucher for a discount on that item is bought within the next hour. Another option is to send a voucher to a customer for the café or restaurant once they have been in the store for a certain period of time, anticipating that they may need a break or are hungry.
All the information gleaned from these options is done so without accessing the customer’s personal information so stores don’t have to worry about infringing data protection rules. And if the customer has signed up for a loyalty scheme or mailing list and given their email and mobile numbers, then this information can all be paired up to create an even more comprehensive picture of the individual and their habits
Combining online and offline
Another change in the way people shop is that they are coming to expect the offline and online worlds to merge and work in harmony. This means that the in-store promotions and social marketing examples should all work together to create a sense of continuation from one medium to another.
A great example of this can be using customer expertise in marketing. While many companies use their online blog to promote the company’s expertise, it can also be a way to bring customers into the marketing plan. Ask them to tell other shoppers about their favourite recipe or tips for keeping the kids occupied during a rainy day – anything that relates back to the store’s products. Then highlight this both online and even in the store to make shoppers feel a personal connection to the brand.
Analytics can then be used across all channels to monitor the results of these strategies. Quickly brands can see if customers respond well to user generated content – do they stop and read promotions, do they read blog posts or share social media content?
Standing out from the crowd
Often retailers run into the problem of price matching and trying to offer something at a lower price than their competitors. But one of the big branding ideas of recent times is about offering customers a better experience and better value, not just a cheaper price. This might be in the form of limited time offers, exclusive offline products or through loyalty schemes that reward their return visits.
All of this needs to be paired with faultless customer service because the human element in the process is still what makes offline shops stand out from online ones. While we might use our devices to find out information, we still turn to another person to ask the big questions. Accurate staff scheduling through the use of analytics data ensures the right number of staff are available at any time to give that quality customer service that customers demand from their stores.
Analytic software is a multi-faceted tool that can help the business answer many of its pressing questions and can add to the customer experience. This, in turn, encourages a higher conversion rate and builds brand loyalty, assuring long-term success, all while monitoring data in real time to ensure there are no problems developing.