It’s an interesting time to be a marketer in the retail sector. In some respects, fortunes are prosperous – compared to just a few years ago, disposable income is high, while the consumer is pushing engagement in new and interesting directions.
However, with industry competition intense, and margins under pressure, every penny of marketing spend MUST return on investment to justify its existence.
Quantifying that ROI is a challenge in all channels, nowhere more so than bricks-and-mortar. Online, shoppers leave a digital fingerprint behind with each interaction, whether they purchase anything or not. Offline, however, that journey is much harder to track, and therefore make decisions founded on genuine customer insight.
Making sure big data in retail drives big results
One of the key issues for retailer and shopping centre marketers is getting an accurate, usable picture of shopper activity in all channels. This is a two part conundrum: firstly, they need to know more about what’s going on in the store or centre. Secondly, they need to turn the masses of data being generated across the business into something they can utilise to make decisions, quickly.
In our latest Acting on Insight report, we highlighted one significant problem: organisations currently only judge success on the positives, i.e. visitor numbers and sales. What they don’t see are the missed opportunities, often because their retail intelligence solutions lack the sophistication to draw on metrics over and above people counting.
This lack of functionality also feeds directly into the challenge of making sense of big data in retail. Too much information can become overwhelming; marketers need a platform on which all the key metrics that matter to their role – and nothing superfluous – can be monitored and analysed, in order to see what is and isn’t driving customer value.
The big bricks-and-mortar challenge: digital marketing
Another fundamental focus for retail marketers is understanding how digital activities influence physical shopping. Mobile in particular is strengthening the interconnection between online and offline retail; most smartphone users will incorporate their device into their purchasing journey – whether that’s carrying out initial web-based research, placing a click-and-collect order, or checking product information/pricing whilst in a store or shopping centre.
Therefore, to appreciate the true success of a marketing campaign, the CMO needs to correlate mobile engagement with purchasing patterns, in order to attribute sales to promotional activity.
There are a number of ways to achieve this, and increasingly we’re seeing the most sophisticated retail intelligence solutions harness the capability of Wi-Fi to build a deeper picture of customer behaviour.
With such solutions, if a shopper walks into a store or centre with Wi-Fi enabled on their smartphone, their journey can be monitored in terms of both location and dwell times. In the case of stores, this can also be linked to Point of Sale data to determine whether a sale was converted.
One bespoke benefit of a Wi-Fi based solution is that, although it anonymises customer data, each device has a unique IP address. Therefore retail businesses can track the frequency of shopper visits based on their smartphone identity.
Using footfall insights to make effective marketing decisions
In order to accurately report ROI, retail marketers need to look beyond people counting and invest in a customer intelligence solution that incorporates multiple measurements.
For example, the ability to establish between first time and repeat visitors enables marketing personnel to map campaigns against customer acquisition. Equally, being able to zone in on a particular area of the store or centre can assess the impact of promotional events, based on footfall and dwell time.