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Retail insights: How to collect (and use) in-store data

By Greg Bell

Any retailer can tell you – today's customer is more informed than ever before. 

Thanks to the internet, modern consumers are in a unique position to research products and services online before making purchasing decisions – and they do. A staggering 90 per cent of consumers browse online before going into stores at least some of the time, according to TimeTrade.

Customers are knowledgeable, but are you? How can Gold Coast store owners ensure the customer experience meets what they had in mind? The answer lies in data collection. Here's what you need to know. 

The importance of in-store data

Collecting data is the only way to truly understand your clientele. This understanding is vital too – an Infosys survey shows that 78 per cent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a retailer who provides offers targeted to their interests, wants and needs.

If you don't collect real data, you're relying on hunches and assumptions. It's like doing 2018's ordering based on what you 'think' did well in 2017 – it's haphazard and likely to fail. 

You might be thinking, "but how can I compete with the Internet?".

It's true – online retailers are able to monitor users closely, seeing which products were viewed, when they left the page, what they abandoned in their cart, and so on. Bricks-and-mortar shops, however, can do all of this as well if they simply pay attention. By watching your customers and how they behave in-store, you can gain a lot of valuable insights to help grow your business. 

What to monitor – and how to use it

Ready to get started? Here are some easy ways to collect meaningful data today. 

Time in store

The longer a customer is in your shop, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Therefore, increasing your time-in-store metric is key. 

Record how long customers spend in your shop, distinguishing between those who make a purchase and those who don't. 

Once you know this, delve deeper, watching customers who leave quickly. Do they seem to be confused by the floor plan? Did a staff member approach him or her? Compare this to customers who stay longer and buy. What was different about their experience?

Answering these questions can help you come up with methods to keep customers around for longer

Busiest areas

Understanding the busiest places in your store is essential. That's because this doesn't just show you what's popular, but can also help you arrange your displays better and organise where staff are positioned on the floor. 

If, for example, customers are routinely walking straight past your central display, maybe you should rethink the products or presentation. 

Non-purchases

Most businesses track purchases, but what about failures to purchase? These are the abandoned shopping carts of the real world – the shoppers stick around for a while, wandering the store with item in hand but then leave without buying

To convert these customers, you have to understand why they didn't follow through. The answer might lie in the price of the item, or the fact that they weren't given adequate assistance. When you notice that one of these customers has left your establishment, record what you noticed about their journey. Better yet, review CCTV and see what could have gone differently. 

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