When it comes to focusing on retail data – both online and in-store – it is better for the two sources to be blended together not separated, according to SAS director of global retail and CPG Dan Mitchell.

Mitchell told Which-50, “If you think about the shopping journey, it’s obvious that its changed, that a lot of the shopping starts online and finishes in store and vice versa.

“A lot of retailers still treat the sales, inventory, demand signals as completely separated and siloed between online, mobile and in-store.

Dan Mitchell, SAS director of global retail and CPG

“We work with some of our customers to bring that together to create a much more sophisticated view of demand and geo-locate those online and mobile sales and tie them together with the store sales.”

He said the point of the data is more about the items than the platform on which they were purchased.

“When you think about it what we are really interested in is which products are selling in a certain neighbourhood — not whether it’s online or offline.”

When Mitchell talks about data he means sales figures as well as shipping and fulfilment costs.

The data can go a step beyond that, which is upstream before the transaction [such as] how many hits and views and clicks do I have on my website, mobile app? That shows interest but does not necessarily convert at that moment.”

He said the only difference between online and in-store data is that retailers and analysts have much less in-store data than its digital counterpart.

Using IoT in-store

To adopt predictive analytics, more retailers are beginning to use Bluetooth beacons, RFID tags and GPS to try and catch up with consumers and add to the data they have.

Mitchell said consumers can price check, inventory check and read reviews from their smartphones in the store while retail staff may not have that kind of information.

He said there are two important calls to arms for retailers when it comes to using IoT in their brick-and-mortar stores.

“The first call to arms is [retailers] need to be armed with enough technology and information as our customers. The second part is, truly understanding how the store is being shopped.

“If we look at what I understand on the website and mobile app and want to understand the same things in the store it would be very difficult to do today without the technologies mentioned, RFID, beacons and wi-Fi.

“You want to be able to see how many customers are coming in, which is volume, then where are there areas of significant dwell time, which shows they’re interested in finding a product or having a hard time finding a product or maybe they’re not getting the kind of service they want.”

The need for more digital experiences

Mitchell said there will be a inevitable shift from in-store to online shopping but noted some consumers would like more digital experiences in-store.

If I was in a store shopping for my groceries and I don’t want to carry any of those bulk items home with me, wouldn’t it be great if I could walk in buy, point my phone at it or say something at it like ‘yeah I need paper towels, I need a new mop. I want those tomorrow morning but I’m going to continue shopping’.”

He said there are also some products that consumers wouldn’t feel comfortable buying online or some situations where you need to go into the store.

“If it is a Friday night, you have a party and you have to buy a new pair of shoes or buy something to host the party that journey is not going to turn into an online journey it will remain an in-store journey.

“I think you need to look at it by category, by retail sector, where does digital make it more convenient and where does in-store experience trump digital or online.”

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