The physical retailer needs a ‘reboot’!

Nov 17th, 2017. Posted in: News

By now, you’ve likely heard of Big Data and how it’s going to transform the shopping experience. But, you may be wondering: How, exactly, can retail data be useful in an in-store setting?

Although the collection — and subsequent crunching — of data is a mostly digital task, it has a tangible outcome: You’ll know more about your customers and their shopping habits than ever before.

That retail data can be used to organize and stock your store to appeal to your existing customer base, while still welcoming newcomers. It’s also key to delivering a strong multichannel experience to today’s customers, who demand that their online and in-store experiences be as consistently personalized and seamless as possible.

Fortunately, there are many data streams and technologies available to help retailers gain intel on their customers. Smartphones, wearables, and beacons are being embraced by companies looking to crack the ideal customer service formula.

Online conversion tracking, meanwhile, has emerged as a popular tool, and for good reason. It can help track who shops on your site, what items they look at, and, if they abandon their carts, it can remind shoppers to complete a purchase. Paired with in-store technology, these insights can help seal the deal.

Because Big Data can be such a boon to retailers, it’s worth investigating. So, here are some technologies to consider when applying data findings to your store, and reasons why Big Data could be a life saver for your business.

More Sales Platforms = More Data: How to Deliver a Multichannel Experience

Although some media outlets, research firms, and industry experts have been eager to sound the death knell for brick-and-mortar shops since online shopping became deeply integrated into our modern lives, statistics show the physical retail industry isn’t all doom and gloom.

Online sales made up just 3.4% of total retail sales in Canada in 2016, according to Statistics Canada. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 8% of retail sales in the U.S. in 2016–2017 were done online. And a survey conducted last year by the Pew Research Center noted that 64% of Americans said they still prefer in-store shopping. (We’d be remiss not to also mention that a similar percentage of people said they use the internet to comparison-shop, especially for pricing, before pulling out their wallets.)

Retail data | Shopify Retail blog

Retail data | Shopify Retail blog

Although these figures may be distorted by the fact that people tend to buy high-value, big-ticket items like cars, appliances, and furniture in store, ecommerce’s cut of total retail sales is still far smaller than in-person sales. However, when taken into the larger context — that is, comparing these numbers to previous years’ sales figures — one trend is apparent: Online shopping has been growing steadily in popularity year over year.

As our dependence on the Internet grows, it’s likely only a matter of time before the ratio of online shoppers to in-store shoppers evens out. Along with the notion that the majority of Americans in the Pew Center study said they use their smartphones to compare pricing, it’s clear mobile technology has a major role to play even with in-store shopping (particularly with the appearance of trends like showrooming).

Still, in-store shopping will never be obsolete. The fact of the matter is, most people don’t buy exclusively online or exclusively in store. Rather, many of today’s consumers have a blended approach to shopping, buying some items in store and others online.

That means shoppers expect retailers to offer a blended, multichannel approach to customer service.

It also means that today’s shop owners need to get smart about their sales strategies — and retail data is key to this new intelligence.

 Source: Shopify, 2017