Using data to shake up the retail market in 2016

We are now living in a digital era where consumers demand a personalised shopping experience. And, driven by this demand, 2016 will be the year that technology truly shakes up the retail market so it’s important for retailers to embrace it – not only to improve the customer experience, but also not to be left behind against more innovative competitors.

For retail in particular, digital and mobile platforms have transformed the industry. What was once a small part of the industry has grown into something that many retailers and consumers cannot live without. As a result, consumers can choose the shopping experience that most suits them – whether that is online, in-store or on their devices.

Customer experience will always play a huge role for retail and due to the array of new technologies disrupting the market, we will continue to see this experience evolve this year. In fact, we can expect this experience to become even more streamlined as consumers continue to blur the lines between devices.

Here are our thoughts on what will happen in retail next year:

1) The high-street ‘dinosaur’ will take to the stage in 2016

Analytics technologies will continue to influence how retailers create a seamless experience both online and offline to their customers. Analytics is something that can precisely measure how people move within a store or shopping centre, where they enter, where they go, which stores and restaurants they visit and much more. By understanding this behavioural pattern of visitors, retailers are able to optimise store layouts accordingly, reduce queue times and increase staff in changing rooms accordingly, making for a much better shopping experience for you and I.

2) Digital in-store advertising will become prevalent

As we close the loop between online advertising and offline sales, more retailers will be looking to sell their indoor advertising space to brands based on audience data. By accurately measuring Wi-Fi on customer smart phones, retailers can anonymously gather accurate data on customer paths, dwell time and conversion to build rich customer profiles.

This can then be used to determine the ad hotspots to locate in-store ad displays, set the pricing and rate cards for these displays, base content and the timing of ads based on behaviour, as well as measure how many people saw the ad and what their subsequent behaviour was. This will allow retailers to make the most of optimum positions in store and charge an accurate amount for advertising space, putting them back in control. As a result, retailers can maximise the value of their floor space, while potentially increasing sales per visit.

3) Retailers will start planning for 2017

Retailers will start forward planning earlier than expected next year to make events such as Black Friday bigger and better than ever. Due to the rise in analytics, retailers now have banks of data they can use to gain insights on the shopping habits of their customers at these peak times. Using this data, retailers can plan even further in advance – this year Black Friday produced a huge spike in sales for many stores and highlighted how using this data retailers can help them prepare for similar events in the future in terms of store layout and staffing to name a few examples. By preparing and understanding this insight, retailers will be able to make their in-store experience as smart as their online offering.

Overall, 2016 will provide more opportunities than ever for high-street retailers if they choose to use their data correctly. By implementing analytics and using digital in-store advertising, retailers will be able to better understand in-store conversion, improve store formats and create personal campaigns for their customers. Understanding the customer and their shopping journeys will only become more important as competition with the digital landscape develops and consumer demands escalate.

Juha Mattsson, Chief Marketing Officer at Walkbase