On Tuesday, April 15th, we broadcasted our live webinar, Zooming in on Shoppers: Using Location Analytics to Improve the In-Store Experience. For this discussion, I was joined by Greg Sterling, senior analyst at Opus Research, and James Demarest, lead product marketing manager at AT&T Wi-Fi Solutions. As one of the founders of Nearbuy Systems, acquired by RetailNext last year, I’m personally fascinated with the technology behind location analytics; it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart.
Location analytics as a means for gaining insights into shopper behavior is getting a lot of attention in the retail industry these days. And why is that? Well, get ready for a shocker: this technology is changing the way people shop! Mobile devices in particular are playing the most influential role in these shopping changes. ComScore recently found that smartphones have a 68% market penetration in the United States, encompassing 168 million adults. And according to Opus Research, 83% of shoppers in 2013 reporting using their smartphones while in stores. Clearly there’s plenty of opportunity for savvy, customer-centric retailers to connect with shoppers through these devices. The key is to do so in a manner welcomed and embraced by shoppers, a way that enhances their customer experience, and with a viable ROI to the business.
And that’s where location analytics comes in. In stores, data is captured by a variety of sensors including video cameras, Wi-Fi, and increasingly beacons, which have recently been garnering a great deal of industry buzz. This hardware can fall on either the network side (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular) or the device side (iBeacon and device location services via SDKs and APIs), and can be active or passive. The choices of hardware are based on the specificity of shopper location that the retailer desires. This can be as general as detecting presence, defined as whether a mobile device is present in a broadly defined geographic area (an entire store, for example) or as specific as a zone, defined as a very specific part within a particular department (the leather accessories display in the men’s department, for example).
But regardless of location specificity, presenters during the webinar emphasized that the privacy concerns of shoppers take precedence, starting with participation as an opt-in process. After all, the point of location analytics, as any other technology in the growing arsenal of in-store analytics tools, is to improve the shopping experience for the customer. And with competition in the brick-and-mortar space getting fiercer with each passing quarter, it’s critical that retailers focus on ways to optimize the shopper experience by adapting to a data-driven approach.
The webinar’s final take-away to retailers?… Be proactive in embracing this approach and start testing now!
A full recording of the webinar, “Zooming in on Shoppers: Using Location Analytics to Improve the In-Store Experience” is available for viewing.