Sunday, October 28, 2012

Spy on Your Shoppers

A recent Adweek posting discussed how retailers are analyzing video recordings of customers in order to improve profitability. What patterns do people follow when moving through the store? How long do shoppers stay at various displays? Which products are most frequently handled, then not purchased? Are there spots where people are blocked by fixtures or other shoppers from grabbing items?
     Answers to all these questions can help build sales. The twist is that the retailers described in the Adweek posting are gathering their video data from security cameras. The ways in which this will improve profitability are in reducing theft as much as increasing revenues. Because the rationale for the recordings is security surveillance, says Adweek, the retailers don’t have to ask people in the store for permission.
     One trap in this arrangement is people feeling their privacy has been violated and concluding they’ve been exploited. Videos of them are analyzed for the retailer’s financial gain when there’s no reason to suspect the people are shoplifting.
     In the mid-1980’s as Intuit Inc. was first getting started in Palo Alto, California, company staff hung around local computer stores where Quicken was being sold. Whenever somebody would buy that flagship Intuit product, the Intuit staff member would ask the purchaser if staff could come watch what happens when the person installed the software on the home or office computer and began learning to use it. Intuit made full use of what they discovered. Quicken garnered a reputation as a user-friendly way to get boring bookkeeping out of the way.
     In this situation, the consumers knew they were being watched, and the observation occurred only if the consumer agreed to the intrusion on their privacy.
     Another trap in the video recording arrangement is what I call the “Big Data Dilemma.” It’s become awfully easy to gather stuff, but validly refining that abundance of stuff into actionable information consumes time and money.
     Making sense of what your store visitors do and say is important. Consumers often don’t know why they’re doing what they do, or they don’t want to tell you. An attractive alternative to the security cameras is to have your staff and you do the recording mentally and the data analysis on the fly. Watch and listen. Make notes on what you hear shoppers saying to the sales staff and to each other about your products, services, store appearance, and more. 

Click below for more: 
Analyze What Your Shoppers Say and Do
Notice Where Your Shoppers Look as They Enter 
Follow Your Customers Home

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