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The fourth part of our mini-series Strengthening Retail Through Data focuses on customer experience and where the store fits into this now and in the near future.
The retail store has undergone notable change in the way it looks and functions over recent years. But despite the continued growth in Ecommerce, accelerated by the Covid pandemic, stores are arguably more relevant than ever.
Evidence of this is leading online retailers such as Gymshark opening a limited physical store presence, as stores are still the best place for customers to become immersed in all that their brand represents.
In practice multichannel retailers do not pit stores and ecommerce against each other but build their strategy so one compliments the other. Understanding key demographical and footfall has always been important in assessing the viability of new store openings and ensuring an optimal store portfolio.
Where Ecommerce is far more advanced than stores is the capture and use of data. Arguably there is a huge untapped opportunity with in-store data collection and a massive role store colleagues can play.
Intuitively store colleagues will recognise which products are performing, where more products could have been sold if there had been available sizes, if poor fit is affecting conversion and general customer feedback.
There is an opportunity for retailers to give store colleagues a simple way of capturing such data, which at scale would be valuable information for buying and merchandising teams in particular. In addition, by leveraging Assisted selling platforms, footfall counters and revenue metrics, the stores have huge data collection potential.
Data also has a role to play in minimising the ongoing running costs of stores, through IoT (Internet of Things) devices which are increasingly cost effective to employ, highlighting maintenance issues and monitoring/curbing spend on essential utilities.
Capturing large quantities of data and making sense of it requires highly performant systems, capable of processing data in real time, as well data platforms which can crunch large quantities of data.
The good news is that capable, cost effective solutions now exist on the market, putting stores at the heart of a retailer’s data strategy.