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These days, it can sometimes feel like brick-and-mortar retailers are at a distinct disadvantage compared to their e-commerce counterparts. Reports on the global growth of e-commerce may give the impression that traditional retailers are gradually disappearing.
This is not the case. In fact, the National Retail Federation reports that retailers announced more than 8,100 store openings in 2021, more than double the 3,950 announced store closings. While shopper preferences clearly play a role in the survival and success of brick-and-mortar retailers, so does a store’s ability to use the same kinds of data insights used by retail businesses. e-commerce.
By focusing on the right types of data, brick-and-mortar retailers can gain valuable insights into their customers, which effectively helps them achieve even greater growth.
Related: 4 Ways Physical Stores Can Outsell Online Retailers
1. Traffic patterns
When it comes to tracking store traffic, e-commerce websites have it easy. Website analytics allows them to see how many people are visiting their website at any given time – and, of course, visitors can access their store 24/7.
For brick-and-mortar retailers that can’t stay open 24 hours a day, tracking foot traffic can be a bit more difficult but even more important. Understanding how many customers are entering your store at any given time can help you understand when your store needs the most staff available and even determine key metrics like in-store conversion rates. This can help retailers understand when to run promotions or how to optimize shift scheduling – activities that directly influence sales numbers and customer satisfaction.
An example of new technology that allows brick-and-mortar retailers to better track their foot traffic is Dor, a people-counting device that uses a thermal sensor to anonymously track the number of people entering or leaving a store — simply by being mounted on the front door.
By collecting traffic data, businesses have the basic information they need to start tracking conversion rates and improving their store operations, something e-commerce retailers may have long taken for granted.
2. Buyer Behavior Tracking
E-commerce websites are not only able to track the number of people visiting the website. They can also track which pages they visit, which product promotions get the most attention, and more. Fortunately, traditional retailers increasingly have access to tools and devices that also allow them to see how shoppers are performing in-store.
An example of this comes from Shopic, which offers a clip-on smart cart device. In an interview with Cheddar News, Raz Golan, CEO of Shopic, explained, “We’ve created a device that connects to standard shopping carts, turning them into smart carts only when shoppers use it. So we’re enabling grocers to bring all the benefits of online shopping to their physical supermarkets. [In ecommerce], they can measure things online and know exactly what’s going on — who clicked what, how long they spent, what page. We’re essentially uncovering that data that was not available to them in physical space.”
The system is able to generate anonymous reports on the items customers buy, as well as create a heat map that shows which parts of the store they spent the most time in. This information helps grocers understand which products are selling best when, as well as identify ways to optimize their store layout to maximize consumer purchases.
Related: 67 Fascinating Facts About Ecommerce Vs Brick And Mortar (Infographic)
3. Inventory Management Dashboards
Physical businesses depend on an adequate inventory of in-demand products. In-store inventory optimization allows retailers to restock items predictively, using analytics trends to identify when and how much to stock each item. This way, they won’t have low-selling items taking up space on store shelves or finding that they haven’t ordered enough in-demand items.
Business intelligence dashboards that provide predictive analytics based on current and past customer behavior can help brick-and-mortar retailers avoid the kind of problems Target has recently encountered.
As The New York Times reports, “[Target] had $15.3 billion in inventory, a 36% increase over the previous year. As shoppers cut spending on items deemed discretionary, squeezed by higher-than-usual prices in essential categories like groceries and gas, Target was left with electronics and apparel that people weren’t buying. Target said it was addressing the issue by using discounts and canceling fall orders from suppliers, which would lead to lower profits.”
A business intelligence dashboard that connects suppliers and helps companies adjust inventory replenishments as needed can help reduce the risk of such occurrences. Reliable inventory tracking, combined with predictive analytics, will improve profitability.
Related: How to Survive as a Physical Retail Store
While implementing good data collection practices for a brick-and-mortar retailer might be a bit more difficult than for an e-commerce store, there’s no denying that data can still become a powerful resource for your brick-and-mortar store.
By leveraging technology integrations that provide e-commerce-like data, brick-and-mortar retailers will be better positioned to understand shopper behaviors and market to them appropriately, while increasing supply chain efficiencies to reduce operating costs.