As consumer spending and behavior continue to shift globally, companies face declining store traffic and softer in-store sales. But e-commerce sales are pegged to keep growing (as well as the variable costs related to selling online).
But about 90 percent of sales still occur in a physical store, and retailers and fashion brands are turning to technology companies to help maximize results and create a better in-store experience. At the National Retail Federation “Big Show” earlier this year, tech firms such as Retail Next, First Insight, Euclid Analytics, ShopperTrak and Cisco, among others, touted various in-store analytics solutions for attendees from the U.S., South America, Canada and Europe.
In the Middle East and Asia, Sàvant Data System LLC, a Dubai-based solutions provider, positions itself in the retail market by offering “people counting” systems, business insights and in-store analytics. The company also offers customizable solutions that aim to help increase same-store sales and simplify managing the customer experience as well as cut operational costs.
The firm works with more than 400 retailers in 38 countries across the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Far East, India and Russia. The company’s solutions are tailored for a variety of retail businesses, including malls, banks, tourist attractions and casinos, but its primary focus is to optimize shopper experiences. One of the strongest markets is the United Arab Emirates, where retail sales are pegged to reach $54 billion this year with consumer spending on track to gain 4 percent, according to The Federation of United Arab Emirates Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
And although Sàvant was founded in 2000, the company’s growth accelerated at the start of the Great Recession in 2007. Damien Singh, who serves as marketing manager of Sàvant Data System, told WWD that at the time of the recession, “retailers didn’t know what to do about their losses, so Sàvant created the people-counting platform to help them understand which store locations were benefiting geographically in their business models. They [retailers] began using our platform to get through those tough times.” The firm is led by Vic Bageria, founder, chief executive officer and chief visionary officer.
Singh said the company hopes to serve as the “backbone of the retail sector” in the region, and added that Sàvant is “a locally home-grown company, self-funded and publicly traded.”
Sàvant has several solution platforms. Its business intelligence solution provides insight into shopper trends and behavioral patterns and informs retailers with methods to strategically increase customer loyalty, sales coordination, consumer attraction and retention. The solution is also designed to help brands increase profit margins by adhering to consumer-centric merchandising, and it is informed by real-time data. Previously, this type of data would have been gathered directly from employees, suppliers, shop floors and via supply chains.
The company’s people-counting solution allows retailers to understand their consumer base with greater detail. This, in tandem with customer behavior analytics, helps retailers boost sales, monitor marketing activities, control operational costs and set performance indicators for each segment of their business. And to meet shoppers’ demands for customization, the solution lets retail clients send personalized offers to shoppers via mobile devices.
With Sàvant’s geo-mapping capabilities, the technology tracks consumers as soon as they enter a store. Shoppers typically connect their mobile devices to a store or mall’s Wi-Fi, and their MAC (media access control) IP address is automatically stored, creating a record for each individual. Sensors located at the entryways of malls and stores tally visitors (and children) shopping without mobile devices. The types of sensors used by Sàvant include infrared beam, laser, video-based image referencing, thermal red-heat detection and shape-recognition technologies.
“Geo-mapping picks up on body signatures so retailers can understand the direction customers are taking when they walk in the store,” Singh explained. “For example, if most customers walk toward the shoes, it will pick up on that and inform which areas customers visit, and those that they don’t.”
Key performance indicators count the number of new, repeat, recent, frequent and total visitors over a 90-day period. The sensors identify the sex and age of shoppers, based on factors such as height and body structure. Customer traffic, window dwell times, on-line wait times, and even the number of minutes shoppers spend in front of shelves, is counted. Customers’ usage of dressing rooms is also calculated, as there is a 4 percent lift in sales conversion when customers use a changing room, according to Sàvant’s research.
Other technology includes Sàvant’s heat map analysis, which reports on shoppers’ enter-to-exit behavior through a camera that determines “hot zones” within the store that sense occupancy. The camera keeps track of shoppers once they enter a physical space, documenting which “zones and categories” are visited, and for how long. This measures the success of store design, shelf and window displays, as well as the popularity of new and current products.
And although it serves major retailers and brands, Sàvant said it is also committed to providing products and services that help develop up-and-coming entrepreneurs and startups, by cutting off overhead costs associated with IT infrastructure. “What we’re really trying to do is give retailers a better understanding and scope of the business,” Singh added.
For more on retail trends: