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Customer analysis in traditional commerce

Nov 10, 2015

customeranalysisFor a long time it has been common for online shops to analyze their customers’ and online shop visitors’ behavior in order to optimize the visitors’ shopping experience and to measure marketing activities. However, what possibilities does traditional commerce have?

Currently there are different technologies which compete with each other. Already integrated RFID chips on shopping trolleys can analyze the flow of visitors. The smartphone provider Apple favors ibeacon in order to give the shop visitor additional information on the location via his or her smartphone. All these technologies require additional and partly proprietary technology which has to be installed within the shop.

Presence analysis through customer smartphones

However, this can be accomplished much easier and more efficiently than by using the technologies described above. 70% of the visitors have a smartphone which is usually switched on. A smartphone cyclically sends so-called probe requests without the user having to do anything. Many shops have already installed access points, in order to integrate wireless barcode scanners into the ERP system for goods picking, for integrating mobile cash registers or for offering their customers an Internet HotSpot. However, these already installed access points can even offer more. Via an additional API, these devices can collect the probe requests of the shop visitors and send it to a cloud based analysis tool.

The analysis of consumer behavior and its usefulness in marketing

By now there are numerous providers of such presence analysis tools. Using these tools, it is possible to analyze the purchasing behavior of customers with just an additional reasonable effort. These tools cannot only detect how many visitors entered the shop and how long they stayed for, but they can also find out how many visitors have stopped at the window yet did not enter the shop. In this way the efficiency of advertising campaigns in shop windows can be tested. If a retailer uses such a system in all his shops, the corporate marketing expert can find out what percentage of customers are regular customers and in what other shop subsidiaries they also stopped at. Hence, distribution areas for print advertising can be determined efficiently.

A further issue in this context is data protection. The API of the access points transfers only a small amount of data; the anonymized MAC address and the receiving field strength of the Smartphone, as well as the time stamp. No other personal data will be recorded.

The analysis options mentioned above are in accordance with the European data protection law and not visible to the customer. However, it becomes critical to combine the presence analysis tool with interactive advertising. Regular visitors or passers-by could be directly addressed by advertising on electronic displays. For instance, a customer stops every day at 8 o’clock in the morning at a coffee shop but sometimes he only passes the coffee shop without buying anything. In this case, he would be directly reminded to have a coffee (“No coffee today?”).

Before setting up a wireless LAN, IT administrators for retailers should work together with their marketing colleagues to set up the wireless LAN technology capable of integrating a presence analysis tool later on, without a great investment needed.

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