How Technology Transformed the Vendor/Customer Relationship
In the past, the relationship between vendors and their customers was formed through personal interaction. The more time the customers spent in the store, the more the vendor understood their shopping preferences and behaviors. After some time, vendors could predict what brands customer A preferred, what time customer B was likeliest to visit, and so on. These insights were then used to personalize service delivery and improve each customers’ shopping experience.
However, this approach could not scale beyond a handful of customers. A business that receives over 2000 visitors per day cannot maintain an effective person-person relationship with all its customers. Neither can it use manual means to pinpoint their shopping preferences accurately. Furthermore, the insights garnered from a few customers could not be used to predict what random visitors that walk in off the street would prefer.
Due to the limitations of the old method, new tech-based solutions have been developed to change the way that vendors and customers interact. Below, the effects of these solutions on the retail sector are highlighted:
Tracking In-Store Behavior and Identifying Customer Preferences
With retail analytics technology, vendors no longer need to monitor customer behavior manually to identify trends. Similarly, they do not need to hand out questionnaires to find out their visitor’s likes and dislikes.
By leveraging people counting devices (and software), vendors can pinpoint prevalent trends in customer behavior. For example, analytics from the counting software provides insights around customer traffic. Store managers can track footfall data to see how many customers visited their location and how traffic changes over time. They can also find out their store’s peak periods, identifying the hours that customers are likeliest to visit.
Heatmap technology provides further insight into customer preferences. It plots a digital outline of customers’ paths through a store, showing the sections they love to visit, where they spend the most time, and their favorite products.
Optimizing Store Design and Product Placement
Another benefit of heatmap technology is that analytics derived from the solution can be used to improve store design/layout. Since it plots the customer journey, it also shows how easy it is for visitors to find the sections and products they want. If needed, the store can be redesigned to ease customer journeys and reduce the distance people have to walk to find their favorite products.
Previously, customers would need to make complaints before vendors realized that their store is not optimally designed. With the heatmap software, however, store owners can be more proactive and nip potential pain points in the bud.
Heatmap analytics also highlights the busiest walkways in a business location. These are prime areas for visual displays, and they can be used to advertise new products or promotional offers.
Improving Customer Shopping Experience
Via the old approach to customer/vendor relationship, store owners can tell if one or two customers are unhappy. Subsequently, they can ask these people what the problem is and make the necessary adjustments. As mentioned earlier, however, this solution does not scale when hundreds of customers are involved. Furthermore, first-time visitors may not care enough to make a direct complaint; most of them would abandon their shopping and never return.
Some retail store analytics can be used to measure how satisfied customers’ are with their shopping experience. By tracking them, vendors can improve the satisfaction level of most of their customers, rather than just a handful of people.
One way to check customer satisfaction levels is through a store’s cart abandonment rate. If people are interrupting their shopping, something is wrong. Another way is by measuring the average checkout time. Customers don’t like to wait in queues when shopping, and it is one of the biggest impediments to a positive shopping experience.
These analytics are obtainable via Queue Management technology. The software tracks wait-lines around a business location, providing vendors with real-time notifications when queues are getting too long. Data from the Queue system can also be analyzed to gain deeper customer insights. By leveraging them and making the buying process as smooth as possible for customers, store owners can boost their shopping experiences. This leads to an increase in customer conversion and retention rates.
More Accurate Business Reporting
A significant benefit of retail analytics technology is that the data collected by all the software mentioned above can be aggregated on a business reporting platform. V-Count’s Business Intelligence Platform, for example, collates data from multiple retail solutions and analyze them. Subsequently, it provides vendors with an accurate and comprehensive report that outlines how well their business is performing.
With accurate reporting, vendors can monitor KPIs and see how they change with time. If the store is part of a chain, the manager can benchmark performance against other locations and try to identify what strategies need to be adopted from well-performing stores.
This type of business reporting is impossible without technology. And vendors cannot glean the information available in these reports through personal interactions with customers.
In conclusion, technology has revolutionized how customers interact with vendors. These days, business owners have access to more customer insights than they did in the past. The tech-based solutions also allow them to optimize their stores and streamline operations for better performance.
However, it is essential to remain in touch with customers. For this, an optimal customer/staff ratio is vital. Thankfully, retail analytics technologies provide a means to measure (and optimize) this metric in stores.
If you are interested in any of the retail solutions mentioned above, please visit V-Count.com.