Written by Marcy Patzer, Senior Director of Retail Strategy, Scala, Inc.
Monday, 07 May 2012 14:18
In today’s hyper-competitive market, it is not enough for retailers to understand customer behavior — to be successful, retailers also must develop the ability to predict upcoming consumer actions. Gaining this insight can help companies improve their customer offers and conversations for increased sales and loyalty.
This retail imperative has spawned the growing use of predictive analytics technology, which analyzes patterns in historical and transactional data to help retailers make predictions about future consumer behavior. Examining customer spending and other behavior patterns to improve retention strategies, and cross-selling of products to boost profitability per customer are just two examples of how predictive analytics can impact the retail environment.
In addition, predictive analytics also can be used to identify staffing needs and trends; having a better understanding of which shopping days are busiest can help stores staff appropriately to improve customer service and the bottom line.
The success of predictive analytics in helping retailers to anticipate consumer trends then favorably influence outcomes has the industry looking for new ways to leverage this technology in stores. For example, connecting embedded analytics with digital display software can help retailers automatically display content that meets their predetermined business goals, such as increasing sales at the category or brand level, or minimizing inventory to reduce spoilage.
Today’s digital signage and displays are far more than just billboards or posters. In retail environments, they combine content from any source then connect it to a wide variety of displays for a highly impactful interactive communications experience. Digital signs and displays can inform and influence audiences to educate customers about available products and services, cross-promote products, improve the customer experience, and more.
How Predictive Analytics And Digital Signage Work Together
Increasingly, retailers are combining predictive analytics with their digital signage systems to turn intelligence into action. For example, analytics software can examine business patterns, such as store traffic and socioeconomic factors, and apply specific business rules, such as reduce inventory or maximize profitability. It then merges this data with the digital signage software to determine which messages to display in real time.
With predictive analytics, the display content is transformed into meaningful messages that address exactly what shoppers are seeking in the store. The content can be used to announce price changes, generate in-store promotions, and create upscale offers and more.
Retailers can extend this scenario one step further by combining their digital signage software with video analytics technology, such as Intel’s Audience Impression Metric Suite. Video analytics allow retailers to aggregate data on the number of people viewing a digital sign, length of attention, and gender and age bracket. The technology captures this information while maintaining complete anonymity and consumer privacy.
This approach not only helps retailers gauge the effectiveness of their digital display content by measuring the time spent looking at displays but also allows real-time content changes based on who is viewing the screen. Additionally, it helps retailers determine the best content to display in order to address their predefined business objectives.
The Technologies In Action
Most retail stores have frequent shoppers with typical traffic patterns for navigating through the space. Digital signage can play an important role in expanding sales from these repeat customers ― a top priority for retailers.
By combining analytics with digital signage, retailers can better determine which shoppers are in the store, their typical shopping paths, and which content and offers can influence a breakdown in those patterns. More importantly, retailers can specify which messages will most influence behavior. Predictive analytics can assist retailers to sharpen their digital signage content based on what a customer wants.
Delivering these targeted digital signage messages can alter shoppers’ usual shopping patterns. Even a split-second alteration can induce customers to stop their routines, direct attention to something new, and truly transform their shopping activities and buying cycles.
Digital signage location is a key consideration in making this strategy pay off. Retailers should incorporate signage displays into store fixtures, integrating them consistently into the aesthetic of the store. Too much time and money is spent on store interiors for displays to be situated haphazardly, such as a “hanging banners; This approach can be detrimental from an aesthetic perceptive and limits the effectiveness of the signage.
Boosting Retail Performance
Predictive analytics already are identifying data patterns that affect and drive businesses today. Connecting the technology with digital signage is a natural progression in the evolution of how retailers are using predictive analytics. By taking this next step, retailers can deepen their creative intelligence based on predicted consumer actions. They can display the right message at the point of sale or point of decision that best aligns with behavioral intent, improve customer offers and conversations for increased sales and loyalty, and drive sales lift.
Marcy Patzer, Senior Director of Retail Strategies at Scala, is a market leader in engaging customers through the use of digital displays. Prior to joining Scala, Patzer developed a background in the audio/visual integration field. She focused on all aspects of these technologies and how to best utilize audio and digital media within the retail and restaurant environments. These experiences lend to her ability to see “beyond the sign” and get the most out of digital deployments by making them interactive, engaging and measurable.