An unprecedented year all round, one thing we have all learnt in 2020 is that digital communications are a life saver! Providing entertainment, education, contact with loved ones, plus access to essential everyday shopping; the digital interface kept us all functioning through a very difficult time.
Unsurprisingly, since many non-essential shops were closed, online shopping rose sharply during lockdown with one-third of all retail purchases being made online, a record high, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Where retailers had already invested in slick digital platforms, they were able to respond accordingly. For others, the current crisis is a wake-up call to ensure their digital offering is up to scratch.
Covid-19 may have changed the shopping habits of the nation, according to research by Wunderman Thompson Commerce. With a new-found confidence in digital technology, 51% said they would retain some of their new purchasing behaviours. Much of this can be attributed to uncertainty over safety however, with 62% of shoppers feeling less positive about shopping in-store. This is likely to improve over time and retailers can do a lot to manage the situation by communicating with shoppers to reassure them that all government guidelines are being adhered to, to make their shopping experience Covid-secure. We are seeing an increased demand for digital signage used specifically for such communications, they can be instantly updated and moved to wherever they are needed to remind shoppers to practice social distancing and to wear a face covering.
Today’s consumers want to engage with brands and stores on their terms whether online or in-store. When contemplating a purchase, consumers typically begin their research online and then visit a store to see the product in person. Of course, some consumers begin their journey in-store and later make purchases online. In-store technology that facilitates the seamless movement between channels is vital to finalizing a transaction, whether in-store or online. The click and collect model enabled many retailers to continue to operate during lockdown, restricting access to the shop floor yet maintaining supply of everyday essentials. Now with in-store safety procedures in place, click and collect remains an excellent tool to support efficient inventory management and staff allocation; shoppers are guaranteed fuss free satisfaction whilst the opportunity remains for additional spontaneous purchases.
Analytics weather the storm
In the face of challenging times ahead, retailers would do well to find ways to improve their operational efficiency. Companies that maintain or deploy tools that free their employees to focus on their main business will find opportunities to not just weather the storm, but to come out stronger.
Analytics, with its framework of AI and sensors, can be a powerful tool in creating efficiencies for businesses and end users. They have real and concrete applications that can help to drive profits.
In retail, collecting and categorising consumer information quickly can mean the difference between connecting with customers and watching them pass by. For example, using analytics in advertising increases efficiencies in campaign management. Many content management systems can securely and safely collect metadata. Tracking pixels in the content can provide a record of when an advert played. Sensors in the camera can show how many people watched the content and for how long. Shoe store managers playing clips of different sports in the window might be surprised to learn that passers-by are more drawn to basketball than football in their neighbourhood, which can help them tailor the content they display.
Sensors can also collect metadata on the viewers themselves, classifying them by gender and age. Our shoe store manager may find that women are stopping for the football clip whilst men are stopping for the basketball clip, and adjust stock accordingly.
The power of data
The popularity of NEC’s US roll-out of its Analytics Learning Platform (ALP), which helps stores personalise the customer experience through secure data, shows how powerful this tool can be. Due to high demand, NEC’s ALP solution will be rolled out throughout EMEA in the near future.
What brick-and-mortar has lacked until now is the ability to deliver relevant advertising and to accurately measure content performance, including the impact displays have on sales. Anonymous facial detection technology delivers an advantage traditionally reserved for e-commerce, and the business intelligence it delivers to retail will be a big story in the coming years. There is tremendous potential to drive traffic, engagement, conversion and reduce friction; retailers will have the ability to create deeper experiential environments and track engagement.
By choosing a retail display solution that utilises anonymous video analytics, you’re doing more than adding an extra layer of technology – you’re creating an experience tailored specifically to the individuals, leaving them with a more personal impression that does wonders for your brand. Insights and analytics are critical in driving an efficient omni-channel shopping experience. It is very important for the retail to have well defined goals and metrics for the analytics and data they are gathering, however. Without those goals and metrics – data is just data.
The efficiencies of targeted information, whether internal or customer-oriented, offer retailers a competitive edge during a challenging time. Analytics will become the new gold-standard tool for businesses.
What is ALP?
NEC’s ALP (Analytics Learning Platform) is an anonymous business intelligence platform that provides key insights based upon on human behaviours inside brick and mortar environments. ALP helps your physical space become personal, efficient, dynamic and smart. All thanks to a proven ecosystem that harnesses sensors, data and smart content. With ALP, you’ll be collecting valuable, actionable data to make your spaces and places more profitable. Traffic numbers, impressions, dwell time and demographic data all help you make faster, better business decisions. It all comes together in a real-time dashboard. Think of it as your brick and mortar’s central nervous system.