Just because retailers have always done things a certain way, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best way
Some physical retail businesses are not using technology that can provide data for business insight, including visual solutions like smart video, to their full potential. In contrast, online retailers have monitoring ,tracking, and analytics baked into their very fabric so gaining insights on the customer behaviour is easy. The insights from all this plentiful data allows them to forecast, optimise and improve swiftly and with great agility.
Retailers shouldn’t fall into the trap of conducting themselves according to convenience, or becoming complacent in their technology use, just because the right solutions previously may not have existed to solve industry-specific problems. Without taking a careful look at existing biases and altering the ‘way business is done here’, firms could become stuck in a rut.
Finding new ways of thinking about industry challenges and using new technology solutions could help high street retailers in particular, fight the decline and subsequent store closures that have become an increasing challenge for the industry. Connected and collaborative technologies are giving physical retailers the opportunity to receive the same level of insights that online retailers have when it comes to understanding customer journeys and motivations and how to better marshal resources to serve them.
Currently the majority of businesses are leveraging video technologies to prevent loss. However, it also provides opportunities to become better acquainted with and truly understand the physical space, placement of assets, and allocation of staff to provide insights into how the space can be optimised to make it work more efficiently to the benefit of the business and its customers
Some major retailers have been using smart video and other internet of things (IoT) technologies to gather more advanced insights into the behaviours of customers in-store, and how best to address them with more impactful visual marketing, Point of Sales (POS), staff assistance in the right place at the right time, and how to arrange stock and assets for maximum efficiency.
Video is a technology that has increased in utility as it has decreased in price – and holds the promise of removing the potential for businesses and staff to act with unintentional bias. What that means is that inefficient practices, or ‘traditional’ ways of doing business that no longer serve the same ends, can be uncovered and acted on. The insights from a more detached and dispassionate viewpoint, backed up by data as well as the analytics that smart video can provide, can really change behaviours to better align to the strategic goals of the business.
Video allows businesses to actually see and understand customer behaviour, and when combined with analytics, footfall, Point-Of-Sales integration and business intelligence dashboards, biases and decisions that don’t benefit customer care, staffing, operations, or marketing and visual merchandising can be seen and addressed. Then a real discussion on the right ways of approaching store operations can be had, free of what people think ‘ought’ to be done.
The ancillary benefits of video technologies, particularly versatile 360-degree smart video is that for larger chains, head office is able to track the success of sales and ensure consistency of visual displays and offerings throughout all stores remotely. This cuts down on travel, saving time, money, and carbon emissions.
Shaving moments off a customer’s queuing time or improving customer experience so they do not mind the wait, for example, can only come from careful insights backed up by data to ensure they work each time for all types of customers. It’s important that data informs such decisions so that what one decision-maker ‘thinks’ is the right thing, really works for all customers, staff, or the organisation as a whole. Not everyone thinks or behaves the same and creating a great experience for all requires the insights from more than just one mind.
The insight from video validates the effectiveness of store layout in terms of customer flow and journeys, provides intelligence on purchasing behaviour, and on improving the in-store customer experience – all ultimately contributing to greater efficiency and better conversion.
About the Author
Nigel Ashman has executive responsibility for the strategy and delivery of cutting-edge technology solutions to the global retail sector. Nigel has over 30 years’ experience having worked as a senior buyer for Next Plc, and then as a retail sourcing agent for a range of retailers including Boden, Boots and Jigsaw. In 2011 he started his own business leveraging IP video and bespoke software solutions for loss prevention and other retail business units to global brands like Next, Primark, B&Q and Mulberry. In 2019 ONVU Technologies launched a new subsidiary, ONVU Retail. Nigel was hired to spearhead the drive into global retail markets by partnering with retailers to enable the technology to be utilised to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour within stores.