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Big data the key to retail growth

Big Data, we’re told, is the answer to most commercial problems. We’re now informed it’s the solution for shopping centres in their battle against the online sellers. Ben Walker tells us how to harness Big Data!

The importance of data to the future of retail is no longer a new concept. Data is everywhere. Particularly for online retail, data has been integral in moving the industry forward and driving understanding of how shoppers shop online. In the physical retail store/centre landscape this area hasn’t historically been as data progressive. Being able to tap into data to better understand your customers; how they shop and why they shop, is a powerful catalyst for shopping centres, to not only reinvent themselves in the digital era, but importantly, to generate growth.

Online retail has long enjoyed the advantage of understanding a person’s shopping habits and buying preferences – valuable information such as how people navigate choices, their online shopping journey and time spent shopping has long been accessible.

This has enabled e-commerce businesses to develop tailored shopping experiences onsite and create personalised campaigns that reach out and prompt consumers along the path to purchase. Customers have now come to expect a customised online shopping experience, and whether they realise or not, it shapes their expectations for their shopping experience, and can shape their preference for online or retail-based shopping.

Shopping centres can now access technology that delivers analytics on the path to purchase, enabling them to understand real-time physical traffic patterns including the number of shoppers, time spent in the centre, hotspots, number of previous visits and other important statistics. This equips centre management and retailers with an in-depth understanding of their shopper base. Some shopping centres have previously used basic mapping of key demographics and, where possible, employed qualitative methods such as face-to-face research to help draw out insights, but when it comes to understanding shopper behaviour in-store, this new technology takes data capture to a new level.

Shopping centres can now access insights that help them offer greater personalisation to shoppers when they visit their local centre and improve their customer’s overall shopping experience.

Personalisation can now be offered through the integration of advanced centre wi-fi and digital-messaging technological solutions that can communicate directly with consumers. This has been made possible through superior location-based tracking via their mobile and new virtual Bluetooth BLE beacon technology.

Shopper Media Group has partnered with MIST to power our retail centre technology due to their ability to capture high-quality shopper analytics, Bluetooth push notification capability, and AI/machine-learning capabilities. The aim is to further enhance the ecosystem between shoppers, shopping centres and advertisers by driving the creation of tailored experiences for shoppers to create a valuable connection between the customer and their local centre.

Access to high-quality data means shopping centres can now define a clearer value proposition for customers and retailers based on deeper insights and a better understanding of how centres are being navigated by consumers. This can result in changes to the tenant mix, inform the marketing and customer acquisition strategy, as well as help curate a better positioning of outlets around key anchor tenants to improve traffic flow and dwell time within the centre. In some cases, it will enable shopping centres to make greater use of temporary space with pop-up stores, showroom spaces or kiosks to give consumers more reason to stay and connect within the centre.

Shopping centres are the heart and soul of local communities; they are the foundation of retail economies and are social sanctuaries for the various demographics that visit the facility. Access to advanced data stacks and analytics enables centres to better understand the behaviours and experiences of those local communities.

Today’s shopping centres look very different from their predecessors in terms of the mix of tenants. Certainly, supermarkets remain a key tenant, often drawing local traffic two or three times each week, but today’s centres also have a variety of additional lifestyle offerings such as coffee shops and improved public spaces that provide opportunities for consumers to meet and converse.

Leading shopping centres work hard to create ecosystems that offer consumers an attractive, integrated community they can use to socialise, shop and in some cases work in. These changes serve to generate traffic in these vibrant, grocery-centric hubs, enabling advertisers to serve up dynamic and personalised creative that improves consumers’ shopping experiences.

These improvements, and the ability for the shopping centre to evolve with new technological offerings to create a sought-after tailored experience, needs to be built on accurate and insightful data. Big Data is no longer a vision of the future, it is an important tool that shopping centres can harness to improve their understanding of customers, and ensure the centre remains relevant and a part their daily lives.

About the author

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Ben Walker

Ben Walker is CEO of Shopper Media Group. Shopper Media Group is currently Australia’s fastest growing business in the retail out-of-home media landscape; with a focus on expanding reach in shopping centres. Shopper Media Group has now established itself as a significant retail OOH player with a portfolio of over 240 shopping centres across the country, offering shopping centres a market leading digital solution with its Smartlite® advertising panels, advanced Wi-Fi and virtual beacon technology that accurately tracks shopper behaviour in real-time.

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