Retailers use data to understand customers

June 18, 2018
Mark Toner

In today’s competitive retail environment, businesses must understand their customers better than ever before. Data and analytics provide opportunities for retailers to engage their customers in new ways—through targeted promotions instead of spam, by redesigning stores based on where customers spend the most time, and by providing an experience that encourages repeat visits.

Jon Lloyd, CBTS Senior Solution Design Engineer, recently discussed the ways retailers can engage consumers and create experiences that keep them coming back.

Q: Why are data and analytics so important to retailers?

From a retail standpoint, the longer a customer is in the building or on the website, and the more relevant options you present, the more the customer spends. It’s all about understanding what holds their attention.

Q: How can retailers develop that understanding?

Wi-Fi is a great way to collect data. Customers want free Wi-Fi, the data is easy to collect, and customers are willing to answer a few questions to gain access.

At a coffee shop, for example, maybe the first time a device logs in, the question is, “What’s your favorite pastry?” The next time, the question is, “Do you prefer coffee or tea?” Or, “What’s your age range?”

Over time, we start to compile all this data to create a customer profile.

Q: What else do retailers need to develop customer profiles?

E-mail and apps are critical. Without them, you might have location beaconing—how long a device stays in the network.

But if the customer downloads the app or provides an e-mail for receipts, now I’ve correlated where they’re at in my store, what they’re doing, and how much they’re spending.

It used to be that customers knew that retailers were going to spam them with e-mail, and hit them with a million things they’re going to delete. But when retailers ask for an e-mail to send a receipt instead of printing it, customers are more willing to engage.

Q: What do retailers need to do to make use of this information?

You need a platform that correlates your customer data, such as an analytics and location engine (ALE), where an artificial intelligence engine goes through and finds qualified candidates and determines the return rates. In other words, who opened your messages?

You need technology that allows you to set the fields that are important to you and your business—someone who’s visited three times in the past, but not in the last six months, or someone who has spent $500 in a single visit.

Once you’ve created these custom fields, the technology can do powerful things. Consider the example of a bookstore. We see from the location data that the users spend most of their time in nonfiction. Now we can correlate that with increasing the nonfiction display.

Or, if we know the customer connected to Wi-Fi the last time they came in and spent $40 and bought two books, we now have the classification of the genre of the books. So we can e-mail a coupon for that specific genre, instead of saying, “Here’s 10 percent off.”

It’s all about understanding what brings a customer in your store, what keeps them in your store, and what they buy.

Q: What potential pitfalls do retailers need to keep in mind?

It’s got to be a good experience. Consider going to a Starbucks or Panera while you’re traveling. Those brands understand the importance of the customer experience—people know that the Wi-Fi is great, it’s going to be easy to connect, and they’re not going to have to jump through a bunch of hoops and re-authenticate several times.

When it comes to building a profile, customers are willing to answer a question or two at a time. One airport asked 12 questions at once. Connection activity fell from 70 percent to 40 percent. Progressively building a profile over time is a much better fit.

Q: How can CBTS help retailers develop solutions that work for them and their customers?

The first piece is understanding the technology—that’s our core competency. We’ve done the homework for you.

We also understand your business. We’ve worked with other retailers and learned from them. We’ve also lit up Greater Cincinnati with free Wi-Fi in the urban core and other high-traffic areas, and have learned from our own experiences. We can come in and say, “This is what other retailers are doing,” and present customers with new ideas.

The ultimate goal is to create an experience that drives customer loyalty. Wi-Fi is a tool to do that, but it’s a tool that simply unlocks the ability to create a customer profile, and that’s what allows you to build that uniquely catered—almost subliminal—experience that makes a customer say, “I don’t know why I prefer this store, but I do,” and keep your business front of mind.

Read how CBTS helped an auto retailer provide a more robust Wi-Fi solution to serve consumers, generate valuable analytics, and create revenue potential.


Related Articles

Four steps to providing Wi-Fi connectivity

4 Reasons Retailers Love NaaS

How retailers keep up with competition

Subscribe to our blog