The expectations of customers today are higher than ever. Shoppers demand compelling experiences when they visit brick and mortar stores, and retailers who want to stay ahead of the game must deliver relevant and personalized encounters across physical and digital channels.

Retailers who want to succeed in the years ahead should pay close attention to the living habits of Generation Z – i.e., those born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. These shoppers are known for being digital natives who value creativity and individuality, and they will help shape the future of retail. That’s why it is important for companies to build stores that fit their needs.

Research by Accenture found that “60% of Gen Z shoppers prefer to purchase in stores” and “46% will check in store to get more information before making an online purchase.”

These numbers highlight the importance of having a cohesive physical + digital strategy. While brick and mortar stores continue to play a critical role in the retail journeys of modern shoppers, digital channels are increasingly becoming an important part of the mix.

For this reason, it’s essential to have in-store analytics capabilities that can enable retailers to get to know their customers as they move from one channel to the next.

There are multiple strategies and tools retailers can use to properly — and ethically — collect, manage, and leverage customer data in brick and mortar stores.

in-store analytics

Arm the business with the right in-store analytics tools

As Forrester notes, there is no shortage of in-store analytics tools in the market. Some of the most common ones include Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and video systems.

But as useful as they are, these solutions have major limitations. BLE technology is still immature and comprised of multiple competing BLE options. What’s more, BLE comes with higher operational costs.

Video systems, on the other hand, can collect a vast amount of customer data in the physical stores — but they can be a very expensive solution.

This is where in-store WiFi comes in. Aside from enabling customers to freely browse the web while they’re at a retail location, it’s more cost-effective than video and BLE. When implemented correctly, WiFi enables retailers to create rich customer profiles that contain insights into their in-store behavior, making it easy to personalize the shopping experience.

Then there’s the fact that WiFi technology is more mature. It’s been around long enough that bugs and user issues have virtually been eliminated, and WiFi solutions have already been refined, so non-experts can work their way around the technology.

Taken all together, these benefits show that WiFi is one of the best and most-effective analytics tools that data-driven retailers can use in-store.

in-store analytics tools

Use anonymized customer data to boost your in-store operations

Deploying in-store WiFi allows retailers to collect data in ways that are both unobtrusive and compliant with privacy laws such as GDPR. Consider the case of The Prada Group, which launched WiFi across all its stores across the globe with the help of Cloud4Wi.
The Prada Group collected anonymized and aggregated customer data by triangulating their locations. This gave the company high-level information on things like foot traffic, dwell time, and in-store behavior.
Having such insights was incredibly useful because it allowed The Prada Group to make better decisions around in-store operations. Thanks to the in-store analytics they’ve collected, they were able to figure out where to best allocate their merchandise and staff.

Take the customer experience to the next level

Offering in-store WiFi can also enable retailers to build rich customer profiles — that include demographic information and offline behavioral characteristics — which can then be used to personalize each shopper’s in-store experience. This can be accomplished by giving customers the chance to opt-in when they connect to a store’s WiFi service and participate in new hyper-tailored engagement programs where they can decide what is relevant for them.

customer experience

The Prada Group, once again, executed this well. In addition to allowing them to grow their shopper database, having an opt-in WiFi service dramatically improved the customer experience at The Prada Group’s stores. When someone logs into the location’s WiFi, that shopper’s device is assigned a digital identity that allows the network to recognize them the next time they visit the store. That way, when a loyal customer stops by one of The Prada Group’s stores, the company can use triggered notifications to sales associates, so they can provide better customer service and make shoppers feel special.

Implementing in-store analytics: How to do it right

Now that the value of in-store analytics has been established, it’s time to look at some of the top considerations when implementing the technology:

Compliance – Failing to comply with privacy and shopper protection laws can land a retailer in hot water. A company that wants to stay on the right side of the law, should choose an in-store analytics application that lets them configure their WiFi services based on each location’s compliance requirements.

Integrations – Selecting an application that can integrate with existing technologies makes it easy to connect the dots when it comes to customer data.
For example, if a retailer’s in-store analytics application integrates with their MarTech stack, then they can efficiently create personalized experiences, such as tailored product recommendations or customized welcome messages for loyal shoppers.

User-friendliness – Retailers should choose an in-store analytics application that’s intuitive and user-friendly, both from the perspectives of the customers and the staff. Having the ability to quickly connect to the Internet is essential to offering a great customer experience, so retailers must make it easy for shoppers to connect and opt-in. Like The Prada Group, other retailers could enable social media logins so people can go online with just a few taps.
On the employee’s side, companies must see to it that the staff can use the in-store analytics application to learn more about shoppers. Retailers need an application that makes it simple for associates to view relevant customer information, so they can personalize each person’s in-store experience.

In-store analytics are retailers’ secret weapon

Customers’ expectations increase with each new advancement in technology. Personalization is the name of the game in 2019, so it’s important to understand how to gather in-store analytics in an effective but ethical way.
It all starts with having the right technologies. By arming the stores with a powerful but easy to use analytics suite, retailers will be well on their way to creating more compelling customer experiences — both in the physical and digital worlds.

Retailers who are ready to learn what their customers like, who they are, and how they behave in-store, should get in touch with Cloud4Wi to begin gathering in-depth insights into their customers’ behavior.