New Technology: How Bricks & Mortar Retail Can Measure the In-Store Customer Shopping Experience

By Mario Toneguzzi

Halo Metrics, which recently launched Ripple Metrics, uses a proprietary combination of sensors and algorithms which anonymously and accurately counts and tracks visitor movement within a store.

Ravinder Sangha, marketing manager of Halo Metrics, says the result is an extremely accurate suite of visitor traffic metrics that include customer presence, return frequency, stay time as well as the ability to map out the customer journey through a store, all of which is easily accessible through a cloud based dashboard.

“In the new world of retailing consumers can make purchases anywhere so why should they come into your store? The fact is that people still enjoy shopping in bricks and mortar stores for several reasons including the opportunity for socializing, the ability to touch and feel the products they want to purchase, and to experience something unique while in the store,” says Sangha. “Experience is the key term.  Retailers who create in-store experiences with their displays or hold in-store events and have product available to try, test, or taste are winning over customers. It makes sense.  

“With people being as connected as ever and posting everything on social media, they want to share their experiences and even show them off. How do you measure the success of your experience driven initiatives? Retail business is driven by sales data and rightly so. But some measures of performance need a new view or even a new way to be able to measure the true success of the bricks and mortar store.”

“For example many retailers don’t trust, the data they collect for traffic counts.  A recent study found that retailers using sales transactions as a proxy to measure visitor traffic are underestimating their numbers on average by 90 per cent,” says Sangha.

And that’s where Ripple Metrics, launched earlier this year, fits in.

“It essentially provides you in-store shopper analytics similar to what you can get online . . . We use a combination of sensors and apply an algorithm that differentiates shopper traffic from staff presence.  The result is an extremely accurate TRUcount visitor traffic metric. We’re able to get a highly-accurate count of shoppers coming into the store that retailers can trust.” explains Sangha.

“We can actually map out a customer journey within a store . . .  We can drill down to departments as well . . . Those are all metrics that give us insights on how customers are behaving. Are they engaging in the events and experiences that we’re creating within the store? At the end of the day, Ripple is offering retailers a way to measure that in-store shopping experience." 

The company says the days of relying on sales per square foot or sales transactions alone to measure the success of a bricks and mortar retail business are dwindling. It is becoming more and more important to understand the shopping experience and behaviour of customers while they are in the store. Because the sale may happen anywhere but the experience in-store will help to close that sale.

It cites the following benefits of using its technology for the retailer:

  • Track store sales conversion metrics across the chain
  • Quickly identify opportunities to improve shopper traffic
  • Gain valuable insights for strategic planning
  • Receive actionable reports that track key performance indicators
  • Measure the in-store traffic impact of events and campaigns
  • Learn what percentage of traffic are new customers versus returning
  • Identify ideal product positioning based on in-store shopper movement patterns
  • Identify the most valuable shoppers
  • Learn about a customer’s journey within the store
  • Optimize staffing schedules to maximize productivity while saving labour dollars
  • Learn how staffing impacts the shopping behaviour
  • Identify opportunities to reduce customer wait time and improve the shopping experience
  • Compare store performance against previous time periods and other locations
  • Understand the customer journey with the Visitor Flow report to improve store layout
  • Streamline store layout designing and save money and time
  • Measure the effect of product positioning and create optimal retail store layout

“Online stores have had a great advantage with the analytics that are available to measure how customers interact with the website and tracking their every movement through to purchase,” explains Sangha. “These include a key set of metrics used to measure the customer experience.  But now we have the technology to put bricks and mortar stores on an even playing field as online stores.

“Using specialized sensors we can anonymously track shopper movement within the store, provide accurate shopper traffic counts, and recognize new customers versus returning customers, measure frequency of visits, and capture average stay time and more.  These metrics are important in measuring the success of your experience driven initiatives.”

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Mario Toneguzzi

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: