How to Dismiss the Most Common Objections to On-Premise Shopper Analytics
Just about any retailer or brand marketer is going to like the idea of using technology to better understand how consumers shop a store. But what they don’t tend to like is any possibility that the technology being used will upset and even alienate those shoppers.
Stories regularly find their way into mainstream media about shoppers being offended by how their movements are being captured and logged in retail and public spaces, using cameras and artificial intelligence or by tracking mobile phones. While the companies applying this technology take pains to note that any information captured is anonymized, consumers are often skeptical and periodically up in arms.
Systems that have gone into retail environments have then been pulled out or disabled in the wake of media attention and public outcry about privacy concerns.
It’s one of several objections that retailers and their technology solution providers wrestle with as they try to understand consumer behaviors and optimize the time they have with shoppers in-store.
Fortunately, there are ways to not only annul the privacy concern, but also remove the other main barriers to retail and brand adoption.
Radar sensor technology uses mmWave RF technology to sense, capture and report the proximity and dwell time of shoppers in defined retail zones, without needing cameras or using Wi-Fi sensing or cell phone tracking.
The radar technology is sensing body masses, and that’s it. It can’t know specifically who is in range, eliminating any privacy concerns. Nonetheless, those sensors build an accurate, cost-effective picture of shopper traffic, engagement and dwell times.
The other good news is the sensor devices are unobtrusive (they look a lot like residential smoke detectors) and are very affordable.
- Ease of Use: Even with the near-universal public awareness that’s developed with AI, it’s still mysterious and intimidating technology. Tell most retail operators they can be equipped to manage an AI-driven audience measurement toolset, and they’re going to be a little worried about the complexity and workload. The audience measurement firm InReality has developed a lean but powerful solution that's managed off a smartphone app. Configuration is quick and simple, and the insights generated by sensors are also organized and visible within the app.
- Rich Insights: Data collection is only useful if tools are available to organize, view and make sense of it. InReality listened to retail and brand marketer concerns and wishes and developed a dashboard for desktop, tablet or mobile that not only relates real time and legacy date, but provides a performance scorecard. Therefore, users don’t just get the numbers, they see with visual cues like charting, venue and shopper dynamics by time and day of week, and also how they compare with other similar locations.
Why is this kind of technology valuable? It’s simple. Solid insights directly inform store optimization.
That can work in at least a couple of ways:
- Understanding the fluctuation of store occupancy levels helps retail managers optimize the shopper experience. When there are clear insights about how a store works, tasks like re-stocking items can be scheduled, for example, during lower shopper volume times. Managers also have clear insights into when to schedule more or less staff and plan in advance for peak traffic times of day.
- Measuring key engagement metrics like traffic, impressions and engagements allows retailers and brand marketers to improve product displays based on what performs best. They can feature the products with the highest engagement metrics and replicate that strategy across departments to drive sales and bottom lines.
Clearing the Hurdles
There’s little to debate about the value of applying technology to boost store performance. However, the technology has to be cost effective and straddle the opposing needs of being powerful, yet still easy to use.
And, maybe more than anything, the technology needs to operate in such a way that shoppers have no reason to worry or object.
Kevin Kroeger is the product manager for Spectrio's retail vertical of business, where he oversees the product development life cycle, champions the voice of the customer, and drives the team to deliver a class-leading product road map.
Kevin Kroeger is the product manager for Spectrio's retail vertical of business. Kevin previously held director and C-level roles at companies spanning consumer electronics, musical instruments, and home & garden spaces. At Spectrio, he oversees the product development life cycle, champions the voice of the customer, and drives the team to deliver a class-leading product roadmap, which drives engaged consumers to Spectrio's customer base.