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Today, it can sometimes feel like brick-and-mortar retailers are at a distinct disadvantage compared to their e-commerce peers. Reports of the global growth of e-commerce can make it seem as if brick-and-mortar retailers are gradually becoming extinct.
This is not the case. In fact, the National Retail Federation reports that retailers announced over 8,100 store openings in 2021 — more than double the 3,950 announced store closings. While customer preferences clearly play a factor in the survival and success of brick-and-mortar retailers, so does a store’s ability to use the same types of data insights used by e-commerce businesses.
By focusing on the right types of data, brick-and-mortar retailers can gain valuable insights into their customers, effectively helping them achieve even greater growth.
Related: 4 Ways Brick-and-Mortar Stores Can Outsell Online Retailers
1. Traffic patterns
When it comes to tracking store traffic, e-commerce sites have it easy. Website analytics allow 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 24/7, tracking foot traffic can be a little more challenging, but even more important. Understanding how many customers enter your store at any given time can help you understand when your store needs the most staff and even determine key metrics like in-store conversion rates. This can help retailers understand when to run promotions or how to optimize shift planning – activities that directly impact sales figures and customer satisfaction.
An example of new technology enabling brick-and-mortar retailers to better track their foot traffic is Dor, a people-counting device that uses a thermal sensor to anonymously track how many people enter or exit a store – simply by being fitted above the entrance.
By collecting traffic data, businesses have the basic information they need to start tracking conversion rates and improving store operations, something that e-commerce stores have long been able to take for granted.
2. Tracking of shopper behaviour
E-commerce sites are not only able to track how many people visit the site. They can also track which pages they visit, which product promotions get the most attention and more. Fortunately, brick-and-mortar retailers are increasingly gaining access to tools and devices that also allow them to see how shoppers behave in-store.
An example of this comes from Shopic, which offers a clip-on smart cart device. In an interview with Cheddar News, Shopic CEO Raz Golan explained, “We’ve created a device that connects to standard shopping carts and turns them into smart shopping carts only when shoppers use it. So we basically allow merchants to bring all the benefits of online shopping to their brick-and-mortar supermarkets. [In ecommerce], they can measure things online and know exactly what’s happening – who clicked on what, how much time they spent, which page. We’re basically exposing this data that wasn’t available to them in the physical space.”
The system can anonymously report which items customers buy, as well as create a heat map showing which parts of the store they spent the most time in. Such information helps merchants understand which products sell best at which times, as well as identifying ways to optimize the store layout to maximize consumer purchases.
Related: 67 Fascinating Facts About E-Commerce Vs. bricks and mortar (infographic)
3. Dashboard for warehouse management
Brick-and-mortar businesses depend on having a sufficient inventory of in-demand products. In-store inventory optimization allows retailers to replenish items on a predictive basis, using analytics trends to identify when and how much to stock each item. In this way, they will not have low-selling products that take up space on the shop shelves or discover that they have not ordered enough of a product in demand.
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 experienced recently.
As New York Times report,”[Target] had $15.3 billion in inventory, a 36% increase from the previous year. As shoppers cut back on items considered discretionary, pressured by higher-than-usual prices in key categories like groceries and gas, Target was left with electronics and clothing that people didn’t buy. Target said it solved the problem by applying discounts and canceling orders for the fall with suppliers, which would result in lower profits.”
A Business Intelligence dashboard that connects suppliers and helps companies adjust inventory as needed can help reduce the risk of such incidents. Reliable inventory tracking, along with predictive analytics, will improve profitability.
Related: How to survive as a brick-and-mortar store
While it may be somewhat more challenging to implement good data collection practices for a brick-and-mortar retailer than it would be for an e-commerce store, there’s no doubt that data can still be a powerful asset for your brick-and-mortar store.
By taking advantage of the technology integrations that provide e-commerce style data, brick-and-mortar retailers will be better positioned to understand shopper behavior and market to them appropriately – while increasing supply chain efficiency to reduce operational costs.