It’s been widely reported recently that overall traffic to physical stores continues to decline. In my role at RetailNext, customers often ask me questions like, “What do we do to stay competitive?” I hear things like, “Traffic is down, but my shoppers seem to know what they want, so conversion is up,“ “My customers spend half as much time on their phones as they do looking at our products,” and “I don’t even know who my shoppers are anymore.”
In today’s data-driven environment, retailers crave information and data that can help them gain a competitive edge. In a perfect world, physical retailers would know just as much about shoppers and their behaviors as their online counterparts. Some retailers are pretty far down the analytics journey; however, many retailers I speak with are still stuck on traditional traffic and point of sale metrics, and are somewhat paralyzed as to where to start on their own analytics journey.
Looking only at traditional tools, the journey can seem daunting and intimidating. However, it doesn’t have to be. To meet the increasingly difficult challenges of the retail industry, I often speak with clients about Traffic 2.0, and its various strategies.
Retailers have, of course, measured store traffic since the beginning of time, but until now, they’ve essentially collected the same front-door traffic information for hundreds of years – initially through pen and paper, followed by clickers, and then by more automated “clicker” technologies like beams and cameras. At RetailNext, we call these simple foot-traffic metrics Traffic 1.0.
Yes, there have been advances in how this front-door traffic data is collected and consumed, but there have not been tremendous advances in the questions this data can answer. Retailers have developed methodologies to use Traffic 1.0 data in understanding several store performance levers, including marketing effectiveness , staffing planning, and ultimately, the store’s ability to convert those people entering the store.
But times have changed for retailers. Store performance is no longer solely a result of macro economic conditions, operational execution, or pricing and merchandising. Competition, and the fight for the spend is everywhere and physical retailers are losing the game. With a comprehensive Traffic 2.0 deployment, a retailer can optimize their stores based many of the same metrics their online counterparts use.
Traffic 2.0 tells store management the duration of a shopper’s store visit, and the path a shopper took through the store – where she visited, what displays she engaged with, and what she bought. It can also tell if she’s a new customer or a repeat customer, and if a repeat customer, what the frequency of her store visits is.
From outside the store, Traffic 2.0 tells which customers pass your storefront and don’t enter, enabling a retailer to determine its capture rate of potential customers, and better understand the effectiveness of traffic generating activities and window displays. Additionally, Traffic 2.0 provides insights to where a shopper made purchases, both before and after her visit to your store – critical insights that can be instrumental in marketing, promotional, and communications outreach.
Today and tomorrow’s retail reality is about the empowered shopper, and brick-and-mortar retail can carve out a distinct competitive advantage given its inherent opportunities to make personal, human connections with shoppers. Rich, actionable data amplifies traditional retail skill sets like customer service, product selection, pricing, visual merchandising etc. Traffic 2.0 strategies are the easiest place to start.
As the retail revolution continues, what’s your Traffic 2.0 strategy going to be?