Guest blog by Ralph Crabtree
“Stores are wonderful. You can examine all the stuff for sale, and then buy it cheaper from another company online!” Sound familiar? This modern consumer tactic, commonly known as showrooming, is expected to continue during the upcoming holiday season. While some retailers perceive the practice as a threat, smart merchants are beginning to use it as an opportunity. With the help of in-store analytics technologies, stores can take action to convert showroomers into brick-and-mortar buyers.
A 2014 retail survey by Accenture reveals that in-store shopping is rebounding in popularity, but still needs improvement. The good news is that data capture and analytics technologies for brick-and-mortar environments can help retail organizations provide their customers with the best possible in-store experience. These solutions provide information to help decision-makers better understand today’s multichannel shoppers, delivering the equivalent of clickstream analytics for walk-in stores.
- Drive In-Store Sales with Personal Service
Retail stores can offer shoppers something no website can: individual service from a real person, face-to-face. Holiday shoppers commonly need advice about the perfect gift and require help with details like sizes, feature comparisons, and gift wrapping. Savvy retailers carefully gauge staff levels so they can provide the right level of personal service to their customers. To do this effectively, they need accurate, real-time data about customer traffic throughout the store and at registers so staff can be deployed at the right places and times. Historical data helps decision-makers identify trends and make forecasts so they can match staff levels to the ebb and flow of holiday customer traffic.
- Make In-Store Purchasing Convenient for Online Shoppers
Reverse showrooming is the consumer practice of using online resources to research potential purchases and then visiting a store to buy the product. Customers like the instant gratification of walking out of a store with a holiday gift safely in hand and one more person checked off Santa’s nice list. Retailers can support this multichannel shopping habit by making it easy for consumers to browse for products online and pickup items in the store. While customers are at the store to collect online orders, they frequently purchase additional merchandise—boosting overall revenue. To make the most of the reverse showrooming trend, retailers need a holistic multichannel data analytics strategy that’s able to combine both online and in-store insights.
- Use Analytics Technologies to Improve Speed of Service
Retailers can also keep their customers happy during the busy holiday shopping season by using in-store analytics technologies to streamline checkout. These systems can combine real-time and historical data about traffic and queues to help managers predict when checkout demand will be high so they can deploy staff appropriately. Stores can also leverage wait time estimates to communicate to their customers about what to expect. Depending on staffing and logistics, a long line may not mean a lengthy wait—but if customers don’t know this, they may dump their carts and leave. Showrooming is less attractive to customers when they see that they can get served quickly and walk out with product in hand, rather than wait for an online order to be shipped.
- Enhance Shopping for Connected Customers with Proximity Marketing
Finally, location-based technologies combined with other types of in-store data can help retailers engage more effectively with customers as they browse in the store. For example, they can send personalized notifications and promotions to shoppers’ mobile devices based on their proximity to specific merchandise. These real-time interactions enrich the in-store experience for consumers and can help retailers transform browsers into purchasers.
Showrooming and reverse showrooming both offer opportunities for retailers to boost sales during the holidays—and year round. Modern in-store analytics and multichannel marketing technologies can deliver a comprehensive view of customer activities that help retailers delight customers, and most importantly, close sales.
Ralph Crabtree is CTO and co-founder of Brickstream, the in-store analytics market leader. He is an expert in the development and application of technologies for brick-and-mortar analytics.