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In-store analytics: tracking real-world customers just like online shoppers

From this, retailers can determine 'hot' and 'cold' zones and, if necessary remodel the store layout to optimise sales opportunities. They can also better understand the level of product lift from shelves and stands.

Secondly, it can help retailers know their customers through an understanding of the target market segment that buys which products, and when, and what influences their purchase.

For managers of shopping centres and malls, being able to map footfall gives them information they can use to increase profitability and maximise rent for retail space. Foot traffic and shopper flow analysis can expose the routes shoppers take through the mall, which is very useful information for potential leasing customers, and also for the mall management team wanting to remodel to optimise visitor flow and maximise return visits, not to mention for the setting of price zones according to traffic level.

Lastly, retailers can use all this information to help manage their marketing campaigns as they can better understand which have worked and why, helping them to optimise their campaigns to generate the highest level of foot traffic and bringing in of passers-by to the store.

Shift in thinking

Retailers operate in a highly competitive environment where customer insight provides a competitive edge. Through the technology of retail analytics they can better understand their customers and take sales data from the level of 'what' to the level of 'why.' For shopping centre management, this kind of information is likely to become the de-facto standard for retail outlet leasing and will be a necessary component of what property managers supply to retailers.

For all of us – consumers and retail businesses alike – it takes a subtle shift in mind-set, one that moves away from perceptions of a 'big brother' environment where everything we do is watched, to one where we can see the mutual benefit in information exchange, provided it is carried out sensibly with due regard to security and privacy.

  • Subramanian Gopalaratnam is Global Head of Innovation and Technology at Xchanging