Global retail executives are showing a growing interest in deploying new technologies to help improve retail store performance and to further optimise their multi-channel strategies, according to a study by in-store analytic technology firm Brickstream. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

The survey, entitled 'Retail Analytics: What's In-Store', interviewed executives from 124 global retail executives in eight industries and found that, while the market for in-store analytics is still in its infancy, it is ready for significant growth. According to Steve Jeffrey, CEO for Brickstream, "Retailers clearly see the benefits of using in-store data across numerous areas of the business, from marketing and operations to merchandising, loss prevention and more."

While retailers are interested in collecting a broad range of data in stores, they placed a premium on customer traffic data (otherwise known as people counting), citing metrics on how many customers enter a store and how many of those buy (sales conversions) as their #1 and #2 most important measurements. They also value knowing which promotions attract customers, where customers go in the store and which products they choose. Not surprisingly, 71% of the retailers surveyed said that they use or plan to use people counting technology in their stores, with in-store Wi-Fi and loyalty systems coming in at 68%, and mobile payment/wireless POS and queue management technologies of interest to at least 52% of respondents.

Survey respondents consistently cited marketing insight as an initial driver for in-store analytics deployments, with operations, merchandising and loss prevention cited as functions also identified as areas that will benefit from increased visibility into what's happening in the store. Marketing was seen as the department most likely to instigate and lead in-store analytics initiatives, with other departments expected to follow suit as the value of technologies deployed are proven.

As more and more consumers shop and interact with retail brands across store, ecommerce and mobile and social channels, retailers are increasingly interested in getting a multi-channel perspective of customer behaviour and sales. Survey respondents reported a timeline of within a year to four years for becoming fully multi-channel, with supermarkets and department stores ranking as early adopters and more invested in multi-channel activities than other retailers. Stores and ecommerce are viewed as the most dominant sales channels, with more than 80% of respondents naming these important, with mobile and social channels also ranked highly, at 73% and 66%, respectively.

"Consumers are increasingly engaging with multiple channels to research and purchase products, but the retail store still accounts for the largest percentage of sales," said Jeffrey. "Clickstream analytics are a given in ecommerce, so there's no question that in-store analytics are a must for retailers who need to gain a complete, multi-channel view of the customer experience and insight for improving overall performance."

Survey respondents confirmed there is value in investing in in-store analytics, and singled out greater insight into retail performance, as well as knowledge that enables improvements in staffing and the overall customer experience as key motivations for adoption. At the same time, respondents also expressed concerns about whether returns would justify the price and about potential disruptions involved in deployment and training employees on new systems. These reservations suggest a cautious user base looking for guidance on the most streamlined and cost-effective ways to move forward.