Shopping as entertainment: retail outlets challenge their digital counterparts

Ralph Siegfried

We attended this year’s EuroCIS, a leading fair for retailers held in Düsseldorf, to see what trends and developments the 12,000 visitors from Europe and abroad are seeing in the area of retail technology.

At the show we presented our newest solutions for security and store optimization. But we weren’t only showcasing network cameras in relation to security; the retail sector uses cameras more frequently as sensors to analyze their customers’ buying behavior. In e-commerce, such analytics have been used for years to gain sophisticated business intelligence on how to convert browsers to buyers. However, with some of the new analytics technology now available, bricks and mortar retailers are beginning to close the gap on the analytics advantage.

Let us entertain you!

Gone are the days of the passive shopper. Now people visit outlets to be entertained – an afternoon of shopping with their friends before a coffee or dinner to discuss their purchases and attitudes towards the retailers. Those stores that provide a good customer journey and experience seem set to make the most conversions from passive visitors to active purchasers.

This mirrors an overarching theme at the fair regarding the challenges faced by brick and mortar stores: only those who know enough about their customer’s wishes, preferences and needs can fulfill them purposefully and generate sales.

But how do physical retail store owners gain this information? Stores are becoming less rigid in structure. While previously the shelves and aisles guided them through the store, they are now increasingly fluid environments with more open spaces. Much like the online customer journey, high street retailers need to map how people move through the store to make a final purchase. By identifying the way in which shoppers behave in-store and interact with their surroundings, bricks and mortar retailers can optimize their displays and strategies to tempt those browsing into making a purchase.

New technology to understand customer behavior

At EuroCIS, we demonstrated technology to improve retailers’ customer understanding. Network cameras can measure the total area of the store to provide video-based path analysis. By understanding where people have been in the store, retailers can determine what buyers are interested in and how effective store layouts and displays are at encouraging purchases.

Different options can be tested for effectiveness by using this analysis once a layout or display has been changed, to compare it against previous iterations of the in-store marketing (the bricks and mortar equivalent of online A/B testing). More information on how network camera analytics can be used to help high street stores compete with online stores’ customer experiences can be found in our blog post Levelling the retail analytics playing field.

Visuals guiding marketing strategy

Another big trend we found at EuroCIS was the ability to use analytics in network cameras to detect the age and gender of shoppers. With this information, which has been detected using visual data, we can make some assumptions about the customer. Using demographic profiling, retailers can tailor their retail offering to specific audiences and increase the opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell products.

Once the customers have been identified by the analysis, suitable advertisements can be sent to them, for example while they are waiting at the cash register, through digital signage or over loudspeakers, increasing the relevance of the customer experience they receive.

As we found at NRF earlier in the year, the trends in retail are all pointing to smart, connected technology being used to create a more compelling customer experience which, in turn, can only increase revenue.

For more information on how our suite of products can improve your store’s operations, visit our Retail solutions page.