In a competitive market, retailers look to analytics to win customers

October 2017

Rental costs and online competitors have been piling pressure on Singapore retailers of late, forcing many brick-and-mortar shops to find new ways to rejuvenate their businesses. Key to this are attracting customers and having the inventory ready to meet demand.

What they require is precise, actionable information to make decisions. In the same way that Big Data analytics has shaped how online stores promote items to customers, retailers can look to insights provided by data collected from various platforms, both physical and digital, to reinvent their businesses.

A mall operator or retailer might seek to know which mall in Singapore attracts the highest crowd during lunch time. It might also want to find out which malls are popular with the younger segment. Also of value would be what sites visitors are surfing and transacting on their mobile devices while at the mall and how long they stay there.

To find these answers, two often used methods are to install footfall counters at entrances and to conduct exit surveys. The reason is that footfall counters are unable to identify individual visitors. As such, these devices are unable to differentiate between unique and repeat visitors, let alone identify patterns in dwell times and arrival times of different visitor profiles. Therefore, they have to be augmented with exit surveys, which require manual computation and analysis.

Today, there are new technology offerings that provide easier access to richer insights. Telecom operators can provide data analytics services to enable retailers to learn more about their target audiences by collecting information passively from visitors of a mall. Through anonymised data collected from both mobile devices and online channels, this data provides deep consumer insights that can be tailored to different business needs.

For example, by using the demographic, psychographic and location insights offered by such data analytics services today, retailers can better understand who turns up at a mall regularly (consumer profile), what he likes (online interests) and where he hangs out (travel and dwell patterns).

By zooming in on a location, a computer chain store looking to set up a branch at a neighbourhood mall can find out if the demographics in the area provide a right target for what it is selling. Similarly, this granular analysis can enable a mall owner to determine what retail mix it should carry to gain maximum patronage from potential visitors.

The other benefit of this analytics service is that it is current and on-demand. Timely access to consumer behaviour data means retailers and mall operators don’t have to base important business decisions on intuition or "gut feel".

A useful addition to the savvy retailers tool kit, telco analytics complements the insights drawn from point-of-sale machines, Wi-Fi and video analytics, by proving a macro-level overview. These combined insights can help give retailers an edge over their competitors on both physical and digital fronts.

Indeed, those that fail to take advantage of the intelligence that data analytics provides could fall behind, as the practice becomes more common.

More than 40 per cent of organisations in Asia-Pacific will prioritise real-time decision support in the next year or two to increase their competitive edge, according to a 2017 study by research firm IDC.

For retailers, it pays to go beyond the basics when sourcing for the right analytics solution and insights. A solution that offers cross-screen insights, across mobile, TV and the Internet can potentially provide a more holistic and current view.

A leading mall operator, for example, has tapped on StarHub’s expertise in data analytics to better understand the demographic profiles and visitor preferences to the malls it manages across Singapore. Its aim was to understand how online and offline experiences are shaping the consumer journey.

The engagement allowed them to drill down on customer footfall patterns, profiles and preferences and track how these changed over time. This allowed the mall operator to better target their audiences through their marketing outreach efforts and track the effectiveness of their campaigns.

In a competitive market, retailers are looking to data to make a difference. For many, having the right tools and identifying the right partner with the right expertise will be the first step towards this transformative journey. Find out how SmartHub Analytics can help reinvent your retail business. Have a representative contact you.

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