How offline retailers can borrow e-commerce tools to save the high street

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What does my customer want? This is undoubtedly the question on all high-street retail companies’ minds with consumers increasingly choosing online shopping over a physical retail experience.

The threat from e-commerce looms large but other challenges such as changing consumer tastes, rising business rates and poor consumer confidence are all impacting bricks-and-mortar stores.

For retail to recover it needs to create an in-store offering which matches customers’ rising expectations, encourages repeat business and strengthens the all-important customer loyalty. Yet bricks-and-mortar stores are still overlooking the most pressing question: what are customers doing when they enter my store right now?

Retailers: Look to e-commerce competitors for inspiration

E-commerce websites can easily track the customer journey and see when a user clicks onto their site, their dwell time, cart abandonment rates and more which helps them to improve and constantly enhance the customer experience.

The same logic should apply to bricks-and-mortar stores. Retailers need to utilise the latest digital tools to better understand shopper behaviour and for the majority of stores, they already possess the tools through their WiFi.

Free WiFi

Free wifi has become the norm in stores, yet few businesses are unlocking the potential of their digital connectivity’s data insights. WiFi analytics empowers retailers to accurately measure footfall, analyse peak shopping times, dwell-time, reveal repeat customers and more just like online sites.

For instance, a retailer might see that sales are dwindling and fewer customers are entering off the high-street, however, the problem is pinpointing why this happens.

Cutting-edge WiFi capabilities mean that businesses can measure the rate of passers-by as well as in-store visitors. This helps shops to understand whether they are losing out on customers due to reduced footfall in the high-street or if a lacklustre in-store experience is to blame.

Address the issues and create effective marketing campaigns

Once retailers have determined the issue they can then create effective marketing campaigns and special offers to drive footfall or look at improvements in-store to entice customers in. WiFi analytics is a great asset for stores to understand the ‘why’ behind consumer behaviour and importantly to realise the impact of marketing campaigns and measure the tangible ROI of these activities.

With high-street retailers under siege, the time for guessing has passed; stores need accurate information now to identify and respond to customer trends and loyalty.

Just as e-retailers track where visitors are coming from and how frequently, physical retailers can use their WiFi to glean whether shoppers are loyal regulars, first-time customers or returning lapsed users. Innovative WiFi technology which automatically logs-in previous users tells retailers which shoppers have visited before, important information for brands to tailor their promotions and strengthen customers’ existing allegiance.

Recognise first-time users

Equally, recognising first-time users on the WiFi is useful as businesses can identify new customers and personalise their particular marketing materials with incentives to ensure they visit again. Access to such in-depth insights is vital in the tightly-packed retail market where the goal for stores is to stand out and cultivate long-lasting relationships with customers.

The key to saving the high-street is without doubt through strengthening loyalty and encouraging repeat customers. The top 10% of a brand’s loyal customers spend 3x more than the other 90% of customers.

Loyal shoppers

Loyal shoppers are also brand champions whose recommendations to friends and family can greatly increase your customer acquisition. Consumers prefer to have meaningful relationships with brands and so the onus is on retailers’ to deliver exceptional experiences.

E-commerce sites are constantly analysing their data to improve their site’s usability and ensure the products are meeting expectation. As we enter the new era of consumer behaviour, influenced by digital as well as demanding cost-effective, unique shopping experiences, retailers need WiFi analytics to personalise their store according to customer preferences.

Like their online competitors, bricks-and-mortar stores can measure customers’ dwell time by analysing the length of users’ WiFi sessions. If customers are spending less time in store this might indicate that price points are too high or that the store layout is unappealing.

Your audience logs in, use that opportunity to grab their attention

E-retailers use tailored pop-up banners and flash sales to drive conversions and bricks-and-mortar stores can use a similar tactic when their customer connects to the store WiFi. Once the customer logs into the WiFi User Experience portal, retailers have a captive audience which makes it in the perfect place to share the latest news, upcoming events and promotions and engage at a personal level with the customer.

Customers enjoy value-added experiences

They will choose e-commerce for its convenience and personalisation, which is where bricks-and-mortar brands should follow suit. Retailers can also integrate their loyalty programmes in the portal for optimum engagement and by analysing users’ feedback to offers and subscriptions, retailers can build a better picture of what the customer wants. WiFi is a valuable channel for retailers to get creative and engage individually with customers whilst adding value to the customer experience.

Get intimate with your customers’ in-store journey

It is time for high-street retailers to get savvy with their WiFi and borrow a few e-commerce tips and tricks to start analysing the customer’s in-store journey. WiFi analytics enables stores to investigate the when, why and how behind shoppers’ interactions and to build an in-depth picture of the customer profile.

In an industry where repeat customers are integral to the bottom line, offline brands should use all the WiFi tools at their disposal to understand customer expectations and create an experience which guarantees loyalty.

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