As consumers shift their apparel, beauty and accessories purchases to online, store traffic continues to decline. In August, year-over-year in-store traffic dropped 6.6 percent, according to RetailNext.
For fashion apparel retailers who may not have a strong e-commerce presence, the ongoing drop in traffic is a paramount concern — especially heading in the fall the holiday shopping season. But there are solutions such as beacon technology and artificial intelligence — and other non-traditional technologies — available that can help drive shoppers into stores by informing the merchandising, marketing and advertising strategies of retailers and brands.
Moreover, Neil Sweeney, founder and chief executive officer of Freckle IoT, said IoT, which stands for the Internet of Things, and beacon technology can help retailers get a better understanding of consumer behavior. When asked how these technologies can create a better shopping experience for consumers, Sweeney said the value “is not in improving the experience for the consumer, but rather in improving the retailers’ understanding of the consumer. From there, they can create a better shopping experience.”
“Currently, retailers have little visibility into how effective their advertising campaigns truly are, as there have never been accurate methods of measuring,” Sweeney explained. “By working with beacons, retailers can now get a better understanding of elements such as traffic and customer patterns, as well as peak times in store.”
The ceo said this data can help retailers improve the overall shopping experience — “as they will now have data that is relevant and actionable.” And when it comes to informing merchandising decisions, the data can also play a key role.
“Retailers want to determine how effective their ad strategies are in driving consumers to store, and then they can adjust their campaigns to work with that information,” Sweeney said adding that his company’s solution helps “creates deterministic data points.”
“This means that it is validated, real data from the retail location and nothing is assumed,” he said. “With real data, you can deliver real attribution to drive real results.”
Tyler Carlson, vice president of sales at SiteZeus, said big data and AI can also improve traffic to stores. “First, they can use AI and big data to determine where the location of the store should be,” Carlson said. “In order to determine this, companies must look at placement among competitors, other existing locations, demographic profiles and spending habits of their target customers.”
“Another significant way to drive traffic is to have an understanding of who their customers are and break it down into different segments of revenue,” Carlson explained. “For example, instead of a business treating all of their customers as one target customer, they can instead define who is driving sales for ‘youth items’ and look at ‘accessory items.’ This way, businesses are targeting customers through personalization, rather than assumptions.”
There are also non-traditional technologies that can be deployed such as “location intelligence,” which is a “tool capability that relates geographic contexts to business data and helps to determine the success of a location,” Carlson said.
“Logistics including the size of the store, parking lot and the ease of access from the road are all considered when picking the ideal location,” he added. “Instead of relying on gut instincts, which has served the industry well for the past couple of decades, companies can now leverage location intelligence to find out where to put a location, who their competition is and the performance drivers from a customer standpoint.”