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Retailers can go Google, or they can go mobile

Evan Schuman | Aug. 11, 2017
Being able to track shoppers as they move from online to in-store has been a marketing goal for years. Google says it has an answer. You just have to trust it blindly.

Before we get into the how, we need to think about the why. What's the point of connecting those dots? If you're willing to assume that Google's data is accurate, the only possible action is to buy more Google ads (what a coincidence). Looking solely at POS data and matching it against known online/mobile users is good for figuring out online effectiveness, which is nice. In other words, it would theoretically prove that online ads were more effective than they initially appeared. If 5 percent of people clicked on the link and purchased, that's a 5 percent ROI. But if you later learned that another 20 percent of those clickers bought that item in-store, your ROI is now adjusted to 25 percent.

That, however, is not where the single-view-of-the-customer money truly lies. Why merely observe and note shopper behavior when you have a shot at changing/influencing it? Yet again, this brings us back to mobile.


Mobile as a communication device

Mobile is not merely a geolocation-tracking device, one that uses Wi-Fi triangulation to pinpoint a shopper's precise location (more or less). It's also a two-way communication device. Not only will that Android or iOS device flag you when a customer is in your store's shirt aisle, but it also gives you a way to talk with them.

Consider this scenario: You know that shopper 663492 visited a specific page for a high-priced tailored shirt at 10:10 a.m. today, a Saturday morning. At 12:05 p.m., this same shopper's phone is detected in your store closest to his home. Your Wi-Fi triangulates that he's in the shirt aisle. Your video analytics show him examining the same shirt he was looking at on his screen. But when he appears to peer at the price tag, he puts it back and walks away.

What if you could text him right then and there, with an offer of an extra 25 percent off if he purchases in the next 30 minutes. Think it could save a sale?

Scenario 2: What if he took that shirt into the changing room and then put it back? In that case, he probably knew the price before he tried it on, so a discount might not overcome the purchase hesitation. Perhaps your text could offer to overnight a different size for free instead.

Texting the customer is good, but demographics play a role. If the shopper is in her early 20s, a text could be effective. But if the customer is in his 60s, it might be better to text a store associate who can approach the customer with the offer. With mobile and video analytics, you have choices. With POS analysis alone, you have almost none.


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