Ensuring Your Retail Analytics Platform Has the Punch to Move the Needle for Your Business

Ray Hartjen
Ray Hartjen
Guest Contributor

Beyond simple data insights, accessibility and actionability are key considerations when analyzing a retail analytics platform’s ability to empower an organization to get the most of its data.

With the advent of online e-commerce a couple of decades ago, more was born than a new way to reach shoppers and better serve customers. Alongside came a new data-driven, analytical approach to continually improving retail operations. Everything – and I mean everything – about the online shopping journey can be observed and measured, and as a result, retailers can develop corrective actions as data shines new light on opportunities.

You think the “buy” button is a certain color by haphazard choice? Those recommendation engines that suggest “shoppers who looked at this item also looked at …” do so by random chance? No way. All analyzed, tested and optimized.

RetailNext was founded over 11 years ago on the premise of “wouldn’t it be great if we could bring e-commerce-style retail analytics to brick-and-mortar stores?” And, RetailNext has succeeded, becoming the market leader in smart store retail analytics and servicing over 450 retail brands in more than 75 countries.

One of the most essential retail metrics is shopper traffic, either site visits to an online store or shopper visits to a brick-and-mortar store. There are numerous shopper traffic counting solutions and retail analytics platforms on the market today, so how can a retailer determine which one is the best solution for its business?

The first and most important consideration, of course, is accurate, reliable and accessible data, for if a solution doesn’t include those basic fundamentals, it will never deliver any real value and return on investment. After all, since when is making a business decision based on inaccurate and/or unreliable information a good thing?

Beyond the data itself, additional considerations include both accessibility and actionability, and a smart store retail analytics platform’s administrative capabilities greatly empower an organization to get the most of its data. Below are several key administrative capabilities to factor into your decision-making process when sourcing any retail analytics solution.

Permissions. Does the platform allows for setting system permissions and data visibility based on multiple custom-configurable user profiles, including by location, by job title and by corporate responsibility and accountability?

Access to raw data streams. Are connectivity errors and issues with cameras and other data sensors easily identifiable by system administrators?

Flexibility to fit the organization. Can administrators assign custom attributes for stores by store type (mall, outlet, flagship, etc.)?

Single sign in. Does the platform facilitate easy data access and convenience through LDAP single sign in linked with corporate permissions?

Tools built into the UI. Does the platform accommodate zone setting in the user interface (UI), including capabilities to draw zones across multiple sensors?

Integrating other systems. Never underestimate an easy ability to upload custom files, including those from POS, Staffing/Workforce Management and other systems.

Bulk uploads. In addition to data from other systems, also never underestimate the ability to bulk upload special store hours and other brand-wide temporary changes. Imagine the time saved in uploading special store hours during the holiday season alone!

Audits. Does the platform allow for easy data self-audit capabilities like through recorded raw video footage as opposed to other sensor technologies like time of flight, etc.?

System readiness. Does the platform automatically monitor its own health and send notifications if data anomalies appear?

Cloud-based. Cloud-based systems allow for remote software and firmware updates to sensors and platform, as well as eliminates the need for any bulky servers on site or time-consuming commitments from already scarce internal IT resources.

Customizable reporting. Ensure an analytics platform can support custom report creation, including distribution of selected and approved information to different recipients at pre-determined and scheduled times.

Whether its uncovering new shopper behaviors or allowing the ability to test, measure, evaluate and decide, retail analytics help retailers become better retailers. But, all retail analytics platforms aren’t created equal. Determine what answers you need for your most pressing business questions and evaluate alternatives based on ROI.

Join the #retail, #ConnectedJourney and #SmartStore conversations on Twitter at @RayHartjen and @RetailNext, as well as at www.facebook.com/retailnext.