In today’s highly integrated and customized digital marketplace, successful retailers understand it’s not wise to use a one-size-fits-all methodology when developing marketing strategy. What has proven successful for others will not achieve the same results for all. Neither can they fall back on just the old tried-and-true traditional marketing practices that had been effective at one time. “If you build it, they will come” has been relegated to the old way of doing things. More than likely they won’t come, as they can easily find a competitor who is willing to give them exactly what they want – a customized experience.
Yet, successful retailers often diagnose the general health of their stores by using a one-size-fits-all traditional benchmark of same-stores growth when measuring true retail performance. Often, retailers will use this benchmark to determine chain improvement over a set period of time, while ignoring other important variables that must be factored in. Or, it will be compared to an average of publicly traded retailers, which can be distorted by the scarcity of data from the small pool it represents.
Although store past performance has its place as a diagnostic tool, when used in isolation, it will only give an incomplete analysis of true retail health. And, in today’s highly competitive retail landscape, incompleteness cannot be tolerated.
By using cutting-edge technology to understand those factors that drive a store’s success, retailers now have at their disposal a system of in-depth business analytics to expand the scope of their analysis beyond same-stores growth. By going outside of the box, they are now able to uncover and specifically focus on those factors leading to actionable insights. No longer are they tied to store past performance to make decisions, they can now analyze real-time shopper traffic within the right context by using the right benchmarks to make the right decisions.
ShopperTrak provides a store performance matrix through our people counter technology to not only help retailers identify how their stores compare to one another, but determine which actions will increase same-store sales. This matrix allows retailers to accurately assess those variables tied to increased conversions. As ShopperTrak understands, the traditional use of same-stores sales alone can only point to what has happened in the past. However, business analytics will help predict what can happen in the future for successful store performance.
From infancy, most are trained to listen. Mom talks, we listen, and all is well with the world. Things only get difficult when we begin to interject our own thoughts on the matter. Or, just simply “hear” her words and ignore them.
Mom knew what worked, and we should listen to her, because, in retail, it still holds true. Retailers employ a number of channels and methods geared toward persuading consumers. Yet, it might be likely they’re not actively listening to what the consumer actually wants or needs. In fact, retailers might even be ignoring consumers while striving to get their own message heard.
However, to be successful, it’s not what we say or how we say it that necessarily matters. It’s what our customers are actually hearing on the other end. As Frank Luntz explains in his book, Win, many businesses “. . . fail to achieve greatness simply because they don’t comprehend why others don’t see the world the way they do. . . . Persuasion is all about recognizing other people’s realities. You can’t get them to accept your story until you understand and appreciate theirs.” (226)
We can’t persuade if we can’t listen. When retailers are actively listening, they discover things they hadn’t noticed before. As Luntz shares, more is learned from catching on to what is actually not being said than what is said. (227)
By having this engagement with consumers, retailers will find what their customers value most. More than likely it won’t be two email blasts a day talking up the daily promotions. In fact, consumers may not even know what they need, but listening to subtle cues will allow retailers to effectively frame a message or product that truly appeals to them. Carefully listening to trigger words splashed throughout social media could yield insight into an overlooked weakness that a business needs to change. Or, it could lead to an entirely new platform to fulfill a need that isn’t being met.
In a customer-centric retail landscape, it’s all about relationships – and relationships are all about listening. Listening takes time and effort. However, this time and effort can yield powerful persuasion. It may seem difficult to implement this simple equation, but the returns are enormous. ShopperTrak helps retailers accomplish this task by providing in-store analytics that provide the necessary tools to listen to and understand what relevant data is saying about the health of your store.
Consumers are using data and technology to take control of their shopping experience, so why not use the same tools to connect with them in a meaningful way?
Advances in technology are making it even easier to gather shopper information and gain precious insight into both consumer behaviour and store performance. That is the message that ShopperTrak will be sending at EuroShop, one of the biggest international tradeshows devoted to retail, now on its 18th edition.
ShopperTrak will be exhibiting enhancements to its full suite of solutions for retail at the EuroCis Hall (Stand H10 - Hall 6), a space dedicated entirely to retail technology. Also showcasing its leadership as the prime provider of shopper insights, ShopperTrak will be presenting at the EuroCis Forum alongside Julia Bischof, Manager - Business Analysis Retail, Thomas Sabo, on 19.02.14.
You can now book a meeting with ShopperTrak or find out more about ShopperTrak’s session by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With exciting innovative technologies constantly evolving, it’s easy for retailers to get caught up in the next new thing and overlook the one thing that actually matters: the in-store experience.
Although online sales are growing exponentially, brick-and-mortar sales still remain retail’s largest profit opportunity. However, retailers cannot afford to view the in-store relationship with customers as purely transactional. As Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, advises, “For retailers, it’s not just about getting the customers to the stores – it’s about recognizing the value of each shopper who chooses to enter their store. Brick-and-mortar retailers must provide their customers a quality shopping experience that creates incentive to purchase immediately.”
Seamless in-store operations are a fundamental part of bringing in customers, keeping them there, encouraging conversions, and bringing them back. It doesn’t matter how much money and time is spent on marketing and promotions if it’s not daily supported within the store. These activities will be wasteful and ineffectual if actual store operations cannot keep up with what is promised. That’s why it’s imperative that what is happening inside of the store is congruent with what’s happening outside of it. Effective store layouts, fully trained and attentive employees, and even interactive, in-store technologies are all parts of the equation to make the retail experience a compelling one.
Retailers must push to provide a seamless in-store experience that not only satisfies the needs of its customers, but helps differentiate the retailer from its competitors. ShopperTrak can help with this experience by allowing retailers to seamlessly integrate our in-store analytics with their existing systems. By providing real-time feedback, our ShopperTrak Insights makes it easy and effective to view reports and take immediate action to improve profitability, anywhere in the world.
New Year’s resolutions usually have “more exercise” at the top of the list. We all know of the obvious physical benefits exercise provides. However, we may not be aware of the role it plays in how we engage with content and the likelihood we pass that information along to others. Interestingly, exercise can enhance word-of-mouth engagement by making people share.
It’s known that those involved with emotionally arousing content or experiences are more likely to share that content or experience with others. However, Jonah Berger set out in his book, Contagious, to determine the effects of physical activity motivating people to share. Would physiologically arousing activities result in the same effect as emotionally arousing ones?
In a behavioral lab at Wharton, two separate groups were given the option to share with others through e-mail what they had just read in a recent newspaper article. The control group consisted of those who relaxed in a chair for sixty seconds before reading the article and then being allowed to share. However, the second group was asked to run in place for sixty seconds before reading the article, as this would create the necessary physiological response by increasing heart rate and blood pressure.
Discoveries from this experiment revealed that physiological arousal actually had a similar effect as emotional arousal. Of those who jogged in place, 75 percent chose to share the article, which was more than twice as many in the relaxed group. As Berger explained, “…. any sort of arousal, whether from emotional or physical sources, and even arousal due to the situation itself (rather than content), can boost transmission.” In other words, one of the most effective ways to generate word of mouth “is to find people when they are already fired up.” (122) And exercise can provide this.
Of course, catching people with a specific message while they’re exercising is no easy task. However, it can open up new opportunities for those marketers creatively seeking stronger word-of-mouth activity. They understand that any arousing situation – no matter what its cause – can encourage people to pass along information they may not normally share.
Insight into customer behavior is a valuable resource to retailers. That’s why it is critical to have the right tools to effectively capture those insights taking place in the store, providing retailers with relevant understanding. ShopperTrak provides people counting technology that captures and measures in-store activity so retailers can engage more effectively with their customers and convert more shoppers into buyers.
Retailers understand that positive word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing. They love when consumers pass along not only positive experiences, but information or content from one of their many digital channels. The more people view it, the more their brand can make an impression and produce familiarity with a wider audience. As Catherine Kaputa, author of Breakthrough Branding, describes it, it’s all about “pimping the brand: getting other people to endorse, market, and pass along your content or business information” (116).
However, the primary concern is finding the best methods to effectively do this. We tend to think the more we educate consumers, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Give them the facts, figures and information, and we can convince them that our brand is the right one. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that. Researchers know that the way humans make decisions and take action can be complex due to biological triggers.
One such research study analyzed the most e-mailed articles from a major newspaper within a year. Surprisingly, they found that it wasn’t the articles containing practical, helpful information or insights that were popular, but those that triggered the most arousing emotions – whether positive or negative.
As Kaputa discusses in her book, it’s the sharing of strong emotions, not practical information, which gives us what we want: a connection and solidarity with a group. Emotional content leads to “high arousal” and produces a biological response which prompts us to take an action, such as passing along and sharing content that caused the reaction in us (117). Social media channels have only made this exponentially easier to do with their built-in communities. If retailers want people to pass along their content, they must make that content emotional.
The digital marketplace is a crowded one, and as retailers find the best tactics to be successful and win in the “battle of the brands,” they need the right tools to get them there. ShopperTrak provides an in-store analytics system that enables retailers to receive the relevant, real-time data that is crucial for successful marketing strategies.
You wouldn’t ignore your doctor if he informed you that you have high cholesterol that could lead to type 2 diabetes. You wouldn’t shrug him off, thinking that maybe he doesn’t have all the facts or might just be having a bad day. After all, there’s a reason you went to him in the first place – to find out what’s wrong and to figure out the best course of action to increase your chances of good health and survival.
It should be no different when handling those customers who actually come to you and point out weaknesses in your business through concerns or complaints. Over five years ago, the Better Business Bureau found that businesses received complaints from only 5 percent of those who were dissatisfied, meaning the other 95 percent of dissatisfied customers made no comment. What made this figure so alarming is that 90 percent of this unheard-from group had not only resolved to stop engaging with that business, but would spread their negative experience to at least eight other people.
Currently, the growth of social media channels has made it easier for consumers to voice concerns and complaints. However, there still may be many more who will likely remain quiet. It’s essential that retailers truly listen to those few who may offer overlooked insights into their businesses by revealing what needs to be changed so growth isn’t hindered. The alternative: if these concerns are left unchecked or untreated, a destructive root could quickly take over and wreak havoc.
No matter which channel they come through, retailers must be prepared to quickly and effectively deal with complaints. One customer’s issue may mean there are several more who feel similar, but have not spoken up. In an age where transparency is not only key but expected, it’s crucial that companies use the appropriate channels to listen to their customers’ concerns, own up to their mistakes, and keep their customers continually aware of ongoing resolutions. Constant and clear communication is critical in a digital age when one click of a button can send anything viral.
With today’s online and offline competitive retail landscape, customer service is often the differentiating factor that determines whether consumers will continue to engage with you. Having the right resources to make sure your customer service is optimized is crucial. ShopperTrak provides these tools through its in-store analytics to give retailers the actionable insights they need to make the right decisions.
What differentiates your store from your competitors – who, like you, have a great social media strategy, offer great discounts and sales promotions, and strive for great customer service? The difference is a focus on creating a customer-centric business that sees each customer as more than just a transaction.
For those who enter your store, having a great experience requires employees to do more than acknowledge their presence, check them out at the cash register, and collect their email information so you can send them upcoming sales promotions. As Robin Lewis and Michael Dart explain in The New Rules for Retail, consumers aren’t always looking to buy things – they’re looking for experiences. As they put it, “Consumers do not need ‘stuff’ anymore. There’s too much of it, all equally compelling.” Instead, retailers “must be able to understand and figure out how to deliver some kind of emotionally connecting experience” in order to win them over (63).
People desire personal connection. Those retailers who have equipped their employees to see, hear, understand, and acknowledge the unique needs of those walking through their doors will positively affect loyalty and repeat business.
There is no single best strategy to providing these experiences, as the effectiveness of a strategy is dependent on the type of brand or retailer. However, it goes beyond just eye contact and letting customers know staff is available if help is needed. They’ve shopped enough times to already understand that. Instead, retailers must effectively mobilize their employees to provide relevant, targeted interactions with customers. By doing so, they can provide the type of holistic experience that could never be attained online.
Retailers understand they must invest heavily in their sales staff to have a successful store. However, they might not always understand how effective their staff is at converting browsers into buyers and contributing to the customer experience. Through our in-store analytics, ShopperTrak is giving retailers even deeper insight into the store. Retailers now have the tools to track the degree and effectiveness of consumer assistance, enabling them to target those areas that need improvement.
It’s imperative that, in today’s consumer-centric landscape, retailers are proactive in going after a relationship with their customers. Long gone are the days when retailers could just place ads in print, radio or television to motivate customers to walk through their doors and do business. Then, once the sale was completed, the retailer’s interactions with customers ended until next time. Now, retailers must be the ones to initiate first contact with consumers and take the necessary steps to engage them in a genuine long-term relationship – even outside the store. They must understand what matters to their customers and act on those insights to build true engagement and a personal connection that can lead to brand loyalty.
It starts with understanding what is important to their customers. Apparently, the little things do still matter to them, and remembering their birthdays is a big deal. According to a survey, almost three-quarters of respondents felt more positive about a company they did business with when sent a birthday message. In fact, close to 90 percent of those positive reactions led to increased brand loyalty. Of course, including a discount or gift with the birthday greeting had a 24 percent more effective positive impact on consumer opinion than those with simple greetings. Age also played a big factor in increased loyalty by positively affecting those in the 24 to 35 bracket by over 90 percent compared to 73 percent of those 55 and over.
Details count in relationships, and it’s no different for retailers. They must discover those specific details that effectively help them reach out to their different customer segments by making the shopping experience a satisfying one. ShopperTrak can aid retailers with determining the effectiveness of implementing these little details through our people counting technology. By capturing actionable insights, retailers are able to see how their promotional strategies are moving consumers further along the path to purchase.
Retailers may be facing the uncertainty of whether they’ll make it or break it this holiday season as they factor in a number of economic variables that affect shopping behavior. Because of this unpredictable landscape, it’s essential they use all the resources at their disposal to remain competitive. But they may not have to search too deeply, as it appears that one of the most effective means of driving more traffic through the retail doors this season will be the tried-and-true method: deals and discounts.
NRF reported in October that it will be these sales and discounts that will determine a consumer’s decision to shop with a particular retailer. In fact, 36 percent stated it’s the most important factor deciding where they will shop – significantly higher than selection and quality of merchandise. Even with consumers becoming more adamant about privacy concerns, a survey found that 41 percent of consumers were still willing to let marketers use their personal data in order to get discounts. It’s essential retailers have an effective strategy to get their special deals out to the right customers and at the right time.
Timing is paramount when it comes to delivering these time-sensitive ads, and mobile will be the way to do it. Considering the major role mobile now plays in shopping, retailers must be smart about how they use mobile to deliver their specials. Whether integrating these digital discounts with customers’ email accounts or using text messaging to entice them in for limited-time deals, retailers should focus on a digital discount strategy. Using location-based mobile applications will also allow them to deliver specific store offers based on each customer’s past shopping behaviors and present locations – whether they’re in the parking lot or walking by the store.
Of course, for these digital discounts to be effective, retailers must know their customers and ensure that the discounts they’re sending out are relevant to a consumer’s current needs. There’s nothing worse than being inundated with ads – no matter how great they may seem – if they hold little relevance to the recipient. As Bryan Pearson, author of The Loyalty Leap, puts it, “If marketing efforts annoy customers, because they are too frequent, intrusive, or just not relevant, customers will tune them out even if not opting out.” (220) By not having a well-thought-out strategy, a retailer may not only irritate customers, but possibly turn them off to future interactions with its business.
As retailers strive to drive more foot traffic through their doors and increase store conversion rates, ShopperTrak provides in-store analytics to make sure they are fully capitalizing on all of their assets and resources to do so. Our people-counting technology helps retailers understand the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and identifies actionable insights to help determine the right strategies to take.