By measuring clicks and browsing time, e-commerce sites provide extensive data around items shoppers like. New visual and mobile technologies are promising to bring those measurements to brick & mortar.
At the NRF Show in January, ShopperTrak revealed its new shopper counting feature that utilizes wireless technology to measure both the number of customers in the area (represented graphically with heat mapping) and shopper dwell time (the amount of time shoppers remain in one area). Combined with foot-traffic data and conversion rates, store managers can position employees in the areas with the highest shopper traffic. Merchandise mix, signage and store layout can also be tweaked, as well as marketing effectiveness down to the department or product level.
ALL-TAG showcased its broadened range of products at the show starting with simple door counter displays that show the current number of people entering a building or space during a given period of time. The company also showcased advanced radio-frequency counting systems that allow businesses to view data on a remote PC.
"We are now taking our infrared technology to a new level by using it to detect and report people's actions, proximity relative to specific objects, duration of events, air quality, noise level, energy consumption, and much more," said ALL-TAG's sales and marketing director Andy Gilbert in a statement.
An analysis of the emerging technologies in The Economist noted how sophisticated video technologies are promising to determine a shopper's sex, ethnicity and age. Some of these advances are driven by facial and infrared retina tracking. Beyond visual, mobile phone signals can be picked up to determine what share of passers-by enter a store, how many leave immediately and how many are repeat customers.
For staff optimization, Hawaii's Foodland implemented thermal-powered people counting from Irisys to understand when to open up an extra register.
"We know the checkout experience can leave lasting impressions on our customers, particularly if it feels understaffed, time consuming and unorganized," Robert Murphy, CIO of Foodland, told Retail TouchPoints.
Other visual technologies tracking customer counts and movement can measure how long it takes an employee to retrieve a pair of shoes from the stockroom, or greet a new customer entering a store.
Jonathan Spooner, account manager at Control Group, writes on his company's blog that future video/scanner systems will capture shopper interactions with merchandise via embedded UHF/UH RFID chips that can pinpoint the location of products and analyze the data compared to the customer's final purchase total.
Privacy hurdles remain, but some observers believe shoppers will relent as long as the analysis is reading "group" rather than "individual" buying tendencies. Will Smith, of Euclid Analytics, told The Economist, "Companies that succeed in this space are companies that address privacy correctly."
Will video or smartphone tracking technologies likely glean more shopper insights for stores over the next year?