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On Your Customers' Tracks: Retail In-Store Tracking

Davide Avella,

On Your Customers' Tracks: Retail In-Store TrackingWayne Enterprises has always been involved with cutting edge technology. Even more, it allows them to be unconventional; just think of the Batmobile. It's a hybrid between a car and a tank. And then, there's also the other gadgets Batman uses in his missions.

The Batmobile is just one of the many weapons available to the Dark Knight to fight the bad guys across Gotham City. And just as the film came out in 2008, GPS also started to gain popularity and came in service of justice.

While the Joker was out playing his sadistic games, Batman tracks him through the cell phones of various people to build a dense network of links on the map. Basically, he was able to monitor any suspicious activity happening in Gotham City.

The fact that smartphones are powerful monitoring tools is clear to everyone. What may be unclear is that the ability to monitor a person's comings and goings can be a very interesting source of information not only for Batman and (or villains) but also for retail managers.

Online and offline retail: two sides of the same coin

The history of online and offline integration started with the balance being skewed towards the latter. But in recent years, there has been a change of course. E-commerce has radically changed customer buying behaviors as well as their expectations.

Online has become the favorite channel and the traditionally understood store is only seen as a warehouse where the goods are picked up. (Gain deeper insight into the role Business Intelligence plays in the retail industry in our FREE ebook: Business Intelligence in Retail)

One of the main goals of retailers is to create websites that are as close as possible to the physical store, both in branding, in the richness of the product offerings, and in describing its features. Growing your business, with the ability to create a store online, is just the latest application in this direction.

E-commerce in retail

One of the great benefits that the online channel offers is being able to monitor the user's navigation, know the most visited pages, the most clicked products, the number of people entering the website from social media, etc. By being active online, you can have a long list of easily accessible and decisive indicators on customer behavior.

The boom of using smartphones and tablets and increasing mobile navigation, at the expense of desktop PCs, has further influenced the retail manager's choices and the aspects to be analyzed to get the pulse of the situation. In truth, smartphones are the new storefront, and with this change comes new data to collect and analyze.

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Business is not very different from Gotham City

Many big retail chains already behave like Batman. Every customer entering a store has a smartphone that can be traced. This becomes a sensor to monitor their movements within the store. Technology offers many solutions.

Since Bluetooth is obsolete now, wifi can be used as an easy and cost-effective solution for whenever any customer enters a monitored network. There are also more complex and far more expensive retail in-store tracking tools: cameras that detect heat transfer movements and thus trace people's paths, floors with sensors capable of recording people's passage, and so on.

In store tracking - Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence provides tools to analyze collected data and give them meaning. These are subsequently presented through interactive and navigable views. A real-time map of a store that highlights high traffic areas as well as lower ones allows retail managers to make appropriate decisions by managing and critical factors.

Additionally, properly integrating this data with others from different sources, you can build new KPIs to control sales trends from a completely new point of view. You can locate shopping and moving patterns that represent new opportunities for shop and product layout reorganization in departments.

Proximity Marketing, which promotes sales through visual and mobile communication technologies, has always played a very important role in retail for its unique ability to capture a certain audience. Based on the collected data, you build ad hoc campaigns that can advertise discounts or coupons when the customer approaches a certain area, department or a certain type of product.

Not only that, the smartphone can be used as an experimental multiplier. Customers are offered a 360° shopping experience that unites offline and online. As soon as a person approaches a product, additional information appears on the cellphone screen.

Mobile phones are vital for in-store tracking

To be able to keep track of the data that emerges with online efforts, it is very important to adjust offline strategies. An effective Business Intelligence system enables you to translate numbers and data into concrete and effective actions such as reviewing your positioning in response to emerging trends, locating store areas that are more popular with visitors, modify the shapes and colors used in communication with the customer, propose new products based on the highlighted purchasing habits and much more.

In all of this, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the amount of data goes hand in hand with the quality of data analysis. The numbers alone have no meaning.

It goes without saying that tracking tracks, reconstructing customer actions, inferring possible behaviors from often heterogeneous clues to each other are all of great importance in sales: Business Intelligence certainly isn't Bruce Wayne's Batmobile, but it's without a doubt an indispensable tool to find new opportunities for daily revenues in retail. In fact, the retail store tracking can create value out of something close to the hearts of retail managers: the points-of-sale.

In addition to what has been said so far, there are many other indicators useful to guide your retail strategies. We've gathered them all in one FREE ebook: Business Intelligence in Retail. To learn more, download now!

Business Intelligence in Retail Ebook

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