Customer Analytics: Understanding Retail Needs, Patterns, Behaviors

Blog post author
Rui Tian
September 24, 2021

What if you could peer into a crystal ball and see the future? What would you do with that information? What if you already had the ability to do so? While crystal balls are part of the popular imagination, customer analytics is real and can examine consumer behavior and create targeted marketing campaigns that result in increased revenue.

Customer analytics refers to the processes and technologies companies use to capture and analyze consumer data to make more informed business decisions. The data is accessed via software and offers insights into marketing and sales efforts, product development, and potential growth opportunities. 

According to  McKinsey & Company, “Companies that use customer analytics comprehensively report outstripping their competition in terms of profit almost twice as often as companies that do not.” By utilizing customer analytics, companies can improve retention rates, encourage customer engagement, drive purchases, and ultimately pad the bottom line. 

Collecting Data

A recent McKinsey survey found that companies that extensively use customer analytics report a 115% higher return on investment (ROI) and 93% higher profits. Thus, businesses are turning to customer analytics software to improve their operations. However, the type of technology needed to increase profits varies from one company to another. For example, it is important for brick-and-mortar operations, such as retail shops and healthcare providers, to focus on in-store data collection. 

People Counters

People counters, including Ombori Grid People Counter, track footfall in real-time to help businesses meet occupancy regulations, make data-driven decisions, optimize staffing, and ultimately increase revenue. They track customers entering and leaving a site and allow companies to analyze occupancy levels. They can also be used at multiple locations, pulling data from each site to better understand foot traffic. 

Here are the different types of people counter technology available today:

  • Optical People Counters (CCTV and Stereo Vision) use video to record individuals entering and exiting; leverage facial recognition and object deduction to count people. 
  • Thermal People Counters track the movement of the human body by measuring how body heat raises the temperature of an environment. 
  • Mono People Counters consist of a single-lens system that tracks traffic within a location.
  • WiFi People Counters (Signal Tracking) use WiFi technology to track location and count customers.
  • Infrared (IR) People Counters work by placing a barrier between two spaces. When a customer walks between IR counters, interrupting the signal, they are counted. 

Businesses should track footfall for several reasons. Such data can

  • offer insight into peak hours, ensuring proper staffing;
  • help determine which marketing campaigns draw more traffic and isolate ineffective ones;
  • improve customer conversion rates by pinpointing problems during low-traffic periods; and
  • drive profits by offering insight into effective marketing decisions. 

Queue Management Software

Queue management solutions leverage technology to reduce customer wait times and streamline front- and back-end operations. 

Most solutions, including Ombori Grid, comprise of four primary features:

  1. Booking: Visitors book appointments online or by scanning a QR code at a specific location. They generally use their email or phone number to register.
  3. Ticketing: Once a visitor has registered, they receive a confirmation notice. They are placed in a virtual queue, allowing them to wait where they choose. 
  5. Notification: When visitors move to the front of the queue, they receive a message prompting them to return to a specific location. 

Admission: Visitors approach the designated service area – a registration desk at a doctor’s office or checkout lane at a retail store. 

Queue systems eliminate the need for customers to stand in line and minimize wait times. They offer additional features to meet specific business needs. For example, they allow patients to complete paperwork before seeing their healthcare provider, and they allow customers to checkout and pay online, avoiding lines altogether. 

Point-of-Sale Systems

Point-of-sale (POS) systems are used to streamline operations via an automated transaction process. Generally used in retail and hospitality, they can be modified to improve functions within other sectors. 

POS systems have the following features:

  • Inventory management: Plan for seasonal fluctuations in sales, better manage cash flow, and monitor inventory levels.
  • POS reports: Monitor sales and earnings; use reports to make better marketing decisions and sell more inventory.
  • Customer loyalty programs: Track customer information, store purchase histories, and notify people when they reach the next tier. 
  • Employee management: Know when employees are working and how they are performing; make it easy to clock in/out; grant permissions to access specific tasks.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM): Track what customers buy and when they buy it; use the data to personalize communications, marketing campaigns, and customer service.
  • Tipping support: Allow customers to add a digital tip during checkout.

According to Ombori Grid Design Lead Ross Malpass, “POS systems offer an in-depth review of how a company [operates]. Details can provide insight into ... profit margins, sales trends, peak checkout times, etc. ... businesses can understand which products or suppliers are driving revenue and which times are critical for increasing staff to meet consumer demand. The data can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience, thereby increasing revenue.” 

3 Reasons Why Businesses Rely on Customer Analytics

Depending on the industry and services offered, customer analytics can offer numerous benefits. 

1. Ensuring Customer Safety- As the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, ensuring customer safety is good for business. However, meeting safety demands can seem daunting – especially when companies are already doing so much to maintain operations.  

Customer analytics can help businesses address customers’ most common concerns:

  • Ensure proper ventilation
  • Remove slip-and-fall hazards
  • Monitor/control crowds
  • Maintain desirable temperatures
  • Install effective lighting
  • Install sprinkler systems; ensure smoke detectors work properly
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Promote a workplace safety culture
  • Display proper warnings and signage

2. Increasing Impulse Purchases - Impulse buying is another way for businesses to increase revenue. They can use customer analytics to study the psychology behind impulse purchases and plan accordingly. 

“An impulse purchase is an unplanned buying decision that happens just before a purchase occurs,” reports Ombori. Today, impulse buying occurs both in-store and online. Any spur-of-the-moment purchase is considered an impulse buy – whether it be picking up a magazine at the checkout counter or clicking a personalized Facebook ad. These purchases can be triggered by just about anything.

Using customer analytics, businesses can identify impulse buyers and increase sales by tailoring product offerings specifically to them.

3. Improving Business Operations- In addition to ensuring customer safety and promoting impulse buying, companies can improve overall operations through the use of customer analytics: 

  • Positive customer feedback: A business that creates a positive customer experience is less likely to receive complaints. Using data to reduce wait times and improve operations can increase customer satisfaction. 
  • Improved staffing management: Customer analytics can help companies gauge staffing needs. By examining how many people are shopping or leaving a location, managers can ensure proper staffing.
  • Increased conversion rates: By tracking the number of customers at a site and comparing it to checkout statistics, businesses gain valuable insight into conversion rates. When rates are low, they can adjust accordingly. 
  • Reduced wait times: Twenty-five percent of customers say they will leave a store if lines are too long. Walk-outs translate into economic losses. By understanding customer demand, businesses can reduce, or even eliminate, queues. 
  • Enhanced store layout: Analyzing foot traffic can help businesses reconfigure locations to maximize occupancy and create a feeling of spaciousness. Businesses can see which products and services are most often visited and highlight them appropriately. 
  • Tailored marketing efforts: Customer analytics allow businesses to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. They can track foot traffic and sales after launching a new campaign and use customer feedback to modify it.
  • Nuanced product demand: Businesses can use POS systems to analyze product demand. They can identify which products sell the most and least often, determine proper inventory levels, establish optimal prices points, etc. 
  • Greater customer appreciation: Customer analytics can help businesses gain a better understanding of their customers. By following the data, businesses can increase customer loyalty by showing their appreciation in personalized ways.

Customer Analytics: Essential for Business

Businesses that invest in customer analytics set themselves up for success. As we enter the digital age of retail, companies cannot overlook the importance of analyzing customer behavior. What once was a desire is now a must for businesses that want to increase revenue.

Through thoughtful data analysis, companies can increase response rates, customer loyalty, and ultimately ROI by contacting the right people with highly relevant offers and messages. They can reduce marketing costs by targeting customers most likely to respond to a campaign, and they can decrease attrition rates by identifying customers who are most likely to leave and taking proactive steps to retain them. Finally, they can deliver the right marketing message by segmenting customers more effectively and better understanding target populations.

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