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In retail, data can be a powerful tool to help brands understand their customers and how they engage with products. But just as retail itself has changed dramatically over the past few years, so have a retailer’s most important metrics of success — it’s no longer just about sales. As highlighted in the BoF Professional Summit: What’s a Store For?, it’s not sufficient for retailers to solely measure variables related to purchase — such as sales per square foot, or average footfall. But while there is no shortage of data that retailers can capture (and hundreds of ways to do it), not all data is worth paying attention to. Knowing what data is worth paying attention to can be tricky.
“Simply because you can measure something, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should or it doesn’t necessarily make it important,” said Doug Stephens, retail futurist and BoF columnist.
This week on the BoF Podcast, Stephens is joined by Brittany Hicks and Jessica Couch of Fayetteville Road, a consulting firm which helps retailers understand niche markets and women of colour, as well as Alexei Agratchev, co-founder and chief executive of in-store analytics firm RetailNext to discuss how retailers should be using retail data.
Retailers have access to an overwhelming amount of information: what percentage of passersby enter a store, how much time those visitors spend inside, what merchandise they interact with and how many times they return to the space, as well as demographic details like age and gender. “The most important thing that stores can do to be great is to constantly invest in tools and processes to listen and respond to their customers,” said Agratchev.
Retailers need to be agile and translate the information they gather into actionable strategies for trying out new formats, layouts and sales associate engagement tactics. “It’s not not just a matter of implementing the technology to gather data but potentially using it as a means of experimentation and testing as well,” said Stephens.
Couch says retailers also need to dig deeper to understand some of the more complicated attributes about their consumers, like where they come from, what communities they belong to, and what their sentiments are about the brand. “There is a disconnect,” said Couch. “A lot of brands don’t understand how people feel about their products or experience.”