Track customers
in your store

It is often thought that tracking customers only applies to online shops, but there are many things to learn from monitoring your customer activity during their visit to your bricks and mortar store.  An ecommerce site might use Google Analytics to monitor traffic sources, pages visited, dwell times, dropped baskets and much more – but there’s no reason you can’t spend time observing activity in your shop to find out equivalent statistics to allow you make changes that increase sales and customer satisfaction.


We should point out that blatant stalking of customers while they visit your store will obviously have a negative effect.  People don’t like to feel like they are being watched or followed or used for statistics so we need to operate covertly.  If you have CCTV in your store try to obtain as much information as possible through a daily review of the footage.  If you don’t have CCTV then speak with your staff about the data you want to capture and ask them to discreetly make observations, ideally while carrying out other tasks.  We’re not talking full-on private detective work here, you’ll need to choose carefully which of your staff members you’d like to engage in this activity, and obviously ensure that this doesn’t interfere with their day-to-day tasks or have any impact on customer service levels.


Here are five things we’d recommend paying attention to:


1. Traffic direction outside your store

Many stores that capture this data find that footfall is generally stronger in one direction than the other. It’s worth bearing this in mind when planning your window displays and placement of outdoor signage like A-boards.  It may also be worth bearing in mind traffic from passing cars.  Perhaps you could have signage that works on two levels – a quick statement or question in large letters that will pique the interest of drivers who only get a split-second glance, and smaller messaging to captivate pedestrians who are passing your store.


2. Customer activity inside the store

If you are able to watch footage as a time lapse or speeded up, you should be able to spot patterns in behaviour of customers and visitors to the store.  Is there a particular path that is taken by most customers? Are there areas of the store with noticeable ‘dwell’ time? Observing patterns in behaviour in this way will allow you to be more strategic when planning layout, signage and POS materials.


3. Products abandoned in other sections of the store

This would indicate that the customer initially decided to purchase, but then changed their mind at a later point.  Is there a pattern of this happening on a particular high-ticket product? Could point of sale materials better communicate the features and benefits?


4. Are entire shopping baskets being dropped?

This might be unrelated if the shopper left due to an emergency or external distraction of some kind, but if it happens regularly, it might be an indication that they were not satisfied with the wait time or another element of the service they received.


5. Visitor numbers

Many large chain stores have counters that can be seen discreetly positioned next to the door, which monitor how many people enter and exit the store. This can be done easily with a clicker or simply with a pencil and notepad.  Once you have this information you can compare it against your total number of transactions for the day, and this gives you your conversion rate.


It’s also worth comparing the other results you have recorded against wider metrics provided by your till or EPOS system.  By combining your collected data with financial information like average basket size and most popular products you can start to build a detailed picture of what is and isn’t working in your store.


Marketing for Independent Retailers

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