Developing Client satisfaction in ‘Retail’ using Retail Analytics and real-time communication
E-commerce retailers use the function of cookie tracking and Internet analytical tools in order to define and calibrate every aspect of shopping on an ongoing basis. Traditional shops are not as lucky. Previously, they had to constantly improve traditional methods leading to understanding Client needs. However, in the era which was referred to by Forrester Research as the Client’s Era, traditional shops are subjected to expectations concerning Client experience which are as high as with e-shops.
The General Director of one of the exclusive chain of shopping centres believes that the main way for traditional shops not to lose their importance is to focus on the quality of their Client experiences. This trend has led to the creation of many start-ups, specializing in delivering innovation in terms of developing retail experiences.
One of the ways in which traditional shops may offer better experiences, is constant analysis of their Clients’ behaviours and using this knowledge for the Clients’ improved involvement during shopping. Using Retail Analytics is revolutionary, both in terms of the way in which shops understand their Clients and in terms of how they communicate with them.
Let’s look at how Retail Analytics improves communication with buyers.
How does Retail Analytics work?
Have you ever thought it seemed strange that a furniture shop offers free Wi-Fi? One could assume it makes sense in case of a café but surely a furniture shop would prefer you to focus on sofas, tables and beds instead of your smartphone.
Well, once the Wi-Fi is turned on in your phone, the device sends a question of ‘available networks’ every few seconds. Then, it listens for a fraction of a second and following a reply, it updates the list of available networks.
And here comes the interesting part: the phone which tries to find Wi-Fi, transmits your unique MAC address to every device (the Wi-Fi base station) which listens. Therefore, when you are walking around the furniture shop, each Wi-Fi signal works like a navigation beacon of your location. Thanks to many Wi-Fi access points in one shop, it is possible to precisely locate every MAC address. And you don’t have to log into the Wi-Fi network at any point – it takes place passively from the phone owner’s point of view.
Even if the device does not share any information about its owner, the seller may develop an image of what individual people are doing when walking around the shop. How many clients made it to the second floor? How much time do people spend within a specific area? How long do the Clients wait before they visit the shop again?
It is useful in order to understand widely defined shopping habits and intervene through informed communication with the Client in the shop. Instead of communicating with the Client during the time planned by the shop owner (as it is often the case), it may take place at a time which is suitable for the Client. Sending text messages when a sale takes place is an effective marketing tactic. Sending e-mails every month may be an excellent drop campaign. Even the good, old fashioned mail may increase traffic in a local shop. Now try to imagine a more Client-oriented message sent via, for instance, the WhatsApp messenger, asking the Clint if he needs help when the Retail Analytics can see that the client has spent the last 15 minutes in the sofa department. Of course, associating MAC addresses with physical persons requires a certain degree of effort but it is possible.
So, how to track a MAC address anonymously in order to personalize communication with the Client?
Understanding behaviours of individual Clients during their shop visits
As more data is being collected, the MAC address ceases to be an unimportant number. Instead, it begins to represent behaviours of a real person. Even though at this stage it is not possible to identify the phone’s owner, an image of who they are can be developed.
Companies such as Billenium help retailers with not only registering what goes on in their own shops but also with working with collective data originating from many locations. It enables shop owners to see what individual persons and groups do in other locations. When analysing a wider set of data, even gender or age category can be determined, perhaps even the aim of the person visiting a particular shop.
Regardless of whether the data is being collected in many locations or over a longer period of time in one location, as it is being collected, it becomes useful in developing more personalized communication which may increase sales and Client satisfaction.
However, it is everything that can be achieved by using only anonymous data. And this leads us back to the question of why a furniture shop offers free Wi-Fi. As soon as someone registers with that Wi-Fi network, the shop may associate the MAC address with any data which will be captured during the registration process. It is most likely to be at least the name, e-mail address, social media account or the mobile phone number. Such a person does not have to use the Wi-Fi network again and as long as they are in possession of the same device, their MAC address and identity are associated with each other.
Other retailers may not only rely on free Wi-Fi. They may use a mobile application with a loyalty programme or discount vouchers which requires the user to provide certain personal details. Depending on the phone’s operating system, such an application may gain access to the MAC address and associate it with the Client’s data. One way or another, retailers may encourage shoppers for their MAC address to be identifiable. And once that is the case, the communication may become really personalized.
Respecting the buyer’s personal details
Doesn’t it sound a little scary? Through indifference or lack of awareness, most people who surf the Internet are constantly being tracked. Of course, some voices of discontent can be heard every now and then but the great majority of people either accept it or they remain indifferent. The GDPR legislation may regard the MAC address as personal data which may influence the type of consent that may be required before the commencement of tracking.
Exchange of values for better Client experiences
Perhaps, a response to this may be providing Clients with a real advantage in exchange for collecting valuable data concerning their habits. Traditional shops may achieve very good results in tracking and analysing their Clients when loyalty programmes offer discount vouchers, cash pay-outs or access to unique events. Instead of tracking them silently, it is worth convincing Clients to voluntary participation in a loyalty programme for the 21st century via a mobile phone.
Tracking location has potential to change the way in which traditional shops communicate with their Clients. This shall provide the knowledge of when to take initiative in communication and when to leave someone alone. However, this shall only be successful when the Clients are able to see the measurable advantages in exchange for giving up a part of their privacy.