The Future of Shopper Metrics

Technology is rapidly changing the availability, affordability, and efficiency of creating and tracking shopper marketing metrics. There is a continuous stream of activity as organizations strive to create better ways of understanding exactly what happens in a store.

The advent of scanning at the checkout created (or at least supported) the first wave of interest in shopper analytics. For the first time, data on exactly what was bought, and when and where it was bought, was available in a fabulously efficient and low-cost way. Retail loyalty cards stepped this forward, with the ability to understand who was buying, as well as what and where.

As more transactions take place in a digital environment, it will become even easier to track behavior. All digital interaction has tracking built into it—the tracking is automatic. It is possible to track the paths shoppers make through a digital environment and to identify exactly which stimuli created which results. The ability to test many combinations rapidly, to measure the results, and even better, to make changes to the campaigns in real time is incredibly empowering. Compared to this, setting up test stores feels positively archaic. No longer does the marketer need to wait until days or weeks after an activity is completed to understand whether it worked. She can now see activity in real time and can therefore make immediate adjustments to the campaign, thus remedying shortcomings or amplifying elements that are particularly effective.

And marketers are looking to use technology to better understand what happens in brick-and-mortar stores, too. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags can be attached to shelves to monitor where a product was purchased (and also to monitor the inventory level). One company in the United Kingdom uses the tracking signal from mobile phones to understand store traffic flows—where shoppers actually go in a store. Scanning trolleys, where shoppers scan the product as it goes into the basket, could be used to measure how long people spend in a particular part of a store. Cameras can be positioned in-store for lower costs than ever before, and they can help marketers observe shoppers (and monitor compliance!). As smartphone usage becomes more ubiquitous, and as smartphones become a more integrated part of more shopping processes, the ability to track where people are and the types of decisions they make at that physical point grows even stronger.

There is an abundance of data already available to marketers, and enhancing this with additional pertinent information is not a difficult task. In the near future, marketers, particularly in more developed markets, will be bombarded with new data options, and the ability to use these effectively will be an enormous competitive advantage. Shopper analytics—identifying, monitoring, and evaluating the effectiveness of shopper marketing against its objectives—will be mandatory for the shopper marketer of the future.

This blog found in Course 40: How to Measure Metrics.

December 21, 2017
  • Colleen Francis

    And to think some businesses still rely on ‘sell in’ data for decision making in the shopper and retail space! That train has left the station. Unless businesses are prepared to invest in Shopper insights, as they have invested in Consumer insights, the financial crisis of poor returns on investment (assuming if there is a positive return) will continue. Given the amount of information available there is no excuse for not understanding your shoppers and investing behind activities that grow consumption. Businesses can no longer do what they have always one expecting a different result.

    • Mike Anthony

      Hi Colleen,

      I agree – and I find it hard to understand the reticence in investing in shopper, given how much is spent on consumer insight without any real thought of return. Sometimes I think shopper marketing is held up to much tougher scrutiny (‘what is the ROI on the research) than consumer teams (when did anyone challenge the ROI on brand tracking, for example?)
      All the best,