What to ask when shopping for an in-store analytics provider:

In-store analytics empower retailers to gain a deeper understanding of store operations, make better business decisions, boost financial performance, and importantly, improve shopper experience.

In evaluating technology solutions, retailers should ask a series of key questions, not only to help solidify their specific interests in the technologies, but also to begin to better differentiate among providers in order to make sound investment decisions.

Technology Platform and Integration with Existing Systems
  • What is in-store analytics?
    • How will this technology help improve retail operations?
    • How will it help to better understand customers and how they shop?
  • What technologies create the data (video, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth beacons, etc.)?
    • Does a particular solution provider use one or all of these technologies to create data around customers and how they shop?
    • What other data sources, like POS and staffing, are integrated with sensor data? What innovative and non-traditional data streams can be integrated?
    • Who owns the data, who can access it, and how?
  • How is data reported and presented?
    • Is there flexibility in how the data is presented?
    • Is data presented in multiple ways, including standard or customized reports, intuitive user interface, mobile applications, and API’s to integrate with existing BI platforms, etc.?
  • How accurate is the data and how is that accuracy measured? Does the provider have a robust and ongoing audit process to ensure accurate counting out of the gate and over time?
  • As an in-store analytics platform develops, how can I continue to use my investments in technology, including my existing traffic-counting system?
    • Does this provider have a proven track record of executing against a robust technology roadmap?
    • Do those innovations help retailers expand their analytics capabilities?
  • Beyond simple traffic counts, what other traffic data is collected?
    • How can this additional traffic data drive sales and ROI?
    • How are store employees excluded from traffic counts?
    • Can traffic and other data streams be easily transmitted to other service providers (such as LP providers or other marketing partners)?
  • How are external data sources integrated into a single platform to provide richer information about my customers?
Retail Knowledge
  • How focused is the provider on the retail industry? Are they familiar with the unique concerns of brick-and-mortar retail? Do they have retailers consulting or on staff?
  • Is the analytics database set up specifically for a retail environment?
    • Is it compatible with a 4-5-4 retail accounting calendar or any retail-specific calendar?
    • Can the technology work with displays, fixtures, and end-caps of various sizes and locations? Does the database have a concept of a retail environment?
  • Can data be acquired on individual customers from outside the store and inclusive of their entire shopping journey, including items purchased?
  • Does the service provider have a team of retail experts who can “make sense of the data?” For more complicated analytics, (how customers travel through a store, for example) – are there experts who can work with retail management to help understand how these analytics can improve the business?
  • How will my concerns about customer privacy and data security be addressed?
Deployment, Support & Scalability
  • How is the platform installed? Will installation disrupt operations?
  • Do installations begin with a pilot?
    • How long is the pilot period?
    • What are the obligations if the pilot doesn’t go as expected or if the investment decision is reversed?
    • What is the process of expanding installation to other stores throughout the chain?
  • What are the considerations for international installations, and how are they supported? Does the provider have experience in most major geographies?
  • What customer service and support is offered, and how are service issues communicated? Does this extend to international locations?
  • How does the provider assist retailers in optimizing the use of analytics data to drive business performance?
    • Are consulting services offered to help make sense of the data?
    • Are recommendations provided on how to use the data to streamline operations, improve customer experience, and drive sales and ROI?
  • What industry benchmarks are provided to compare one store’s performance to others?
Product Research & Development
  • What is in-store analytics?
    • How will this technology help improve retail operations?
    • How will it help to better understand customers and how they shop?
  • What future enhancements are planned for the existing technology platform?
    • What ongoing investments are being made in R&D?
    • What is being done to regularly advance the platform?
  • How future-proof is the technology, and can the solution take advantage of rapidly evolving technologies?
  • How are the needs of retailers and their feedback incorporated into current products?
    • What’s the history of offering new products to retailers?
    • How do customers have input into how products develop over time?