Panelists: in-store advertising is a giant business opportunity for retailers

Elina Saarenmaa

In a recent webinar organised by Walkbase (in-store analytics and marketing platform) and Quru (agency specialising in optimising omni-channel conversion), panelists went through current technological premises, key use cases, and how-to’s regarding how retailers can combine analytics between online and brick-and-mortar stores - and improve business results significantly.

From channel specific analytics to measuring value-per-action at each point of the whole customer lifecycle

A key area for improving business results is the effectiveness of marketing, i.e. where and how much retailers spend marketing money, and how effective those marketing efforts are in affecting customers’ shopping experience and purchase behavior.

Steve Jackson, CEO of Quru, contrasted between the “old and new school” in evaluating marketing effectiveness. Old school means analysing the ROI on marketing activities per individual channel or campaign. However, new school retailers are beginning to measure VPA, i.e. Value-Per-Action at every point of the journey of a customer who is criss-crossing back and forth between online, in-store and mobile. 

He added: “TV advertising is flawed in that its panel based. Brands don’t have the opportunity to interact 1-1 with their customers of a lot of giant advertising budgets. What happens today is that you see the TV ads and you don’t immediately react. You see something on your phone in the bus and don’t immediately react. You see something online and don’t immediately react. We can only correlate the mix of activities. This is nice to know but not that critical as correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. If we do an awareness campaign in Helsinki and there is sales lift it could mean anything. It’s likely there would be some impact but measurement is hard and therefore the budgets are difficult to justify.”

Indeed, the missing link in seamlessly measuring each step during the customer lifecycle has been in-store data. How to measure detailed traffic patterns and customer behaviour in physical stores? How to identify and link such site visit patterns to individual customer profiles, just like online? 

In-store analytics matches today’s web analytics

It turns out that current in-store solutions like Walkbase readily allow retailers to accurately measure customer behaviour in physical stores, and engage with smartphone enabled customers real-time based on their location and patterns in physical stores. 

Juha Mattsson, CMO & Head of Retail Insight at Walkbase, explained explained how practically equal traffic and behaviour metrics can be obtained real-time from physical stores as from online sites. He gave examples such as: visitors per zone, dwell times, capture rates, bounce rates, new vs. repeat visits, cross-shopping, and many more.

He continued: “Wi-Fi positioning based in-store analytics is generally the most cost-effective as it gives real-time metrics on customer counts, paths and conversions, and reaches up to more than 80% of smartphone enabled customers inside stores. Wi-Fi is also the technology standard that is already most widely adopted in physical stores. This makes the adoption of Wi-Fi based analytics fast and cost-effective, as existing installations can be readily deployed.”

This all means is that retailers can very quickly start measuring and optimising physical stores just like online stores. And more importantly, linking analytics and engagement together across all channels.

A substantial opportunity in turning physical stores to advertising space

At the panel discussion section, the speakers moved on to an intriguing topic: How retailers can start generating completely new revenue streams by turning their physical stores into advertising space and thus capturing chucks of product brands’ existing advertising budgets.

Jackson explained: “Consider Coca Cola as an advertiser. They have huge budgets, do massive TV campaigns, massive global reach and sales. But they can never sell to the customer directly. They always go through a middleman. Now lets say you have a screen manufacturer trying to sell screens for in-store advertising. We know retailers like Tesco don’t want to spend money on in-store screens without a good reason.”

He continued: “Let’s then say, with real-time in-store analytics, you could segment people that are coming home from work, buying groceries, with kids. We would know this through behavioural profiling, e.g. by which product departments they had visited earlier. As the visitors then come close to a digital display, they would be displayed a sign with a Coke advertisement, which would also be measured with impression data. This real-time targeting would increase Coke’s marketing effectiveness significantly -- compared to e.g. TV campaigns or roadside ads.”

The panelists also noted that for shoppers opted in for location based offers and services, the retailer would also be able to provide customer identification, e.g. through loyalty card or smartphone app, and associate that to the ad display impressions. This means they can be retargeted online and the nurture cycle continues.

Mattsson commented: “So Coca cola is happy because they get ad impression, ad dwell time and conversion data from different target audiences. Something they never had before. A massive source of new data for them. Tesco is happy because they can sell store digital ads to Coca Cola because now they also have the impression data they can give to advertisers. This is a new in-store business for them.”

Key takeaways by the panelists

Here are the key webinar takeaways by Steve Jackson & Juha Mattsson:

1) In terms of tech and deployment, barriers to get started are low and this enables new types of business to happen for advertisers, retailers and even tech manufacturers. 

2) Retailers can easily start optimising in-store conversion like you do with online stores. Wi-Fi analytics enables profiling, segmentation and A/B testing based on different in-store metrics. You can measure capture rates, window marketing, in-store attribution of marketing campaigns, zone-to-zone conversions, basket abandonment, digital screens, dwell times, etc.

3) There is no black magic or privacy invasion. Email, phone numbers, loyalty cards or social authentication is needed in order to tie online directly to offline. That means customers need to opt-in, and that only works if it generates benefits for the end user. By then using online remarketing, brands can tie back what is done in the real world with what they do online. The single user ID is the key that can then cross analytics systems and that’s the gold mine you can act on in real time.

4) One of the largest business opportunities comes from turning physical stores in to digital advertising space. There’s massive amounts of money in difficult-to-attribute broadcast type advertising, which is easily capturable into the emerging market of in-store advertising. Everyone will benefit — product brands, retailers, digital signage, analytics software & services, digital agencies, and so on.

Watch the full webinar here.

Check out the webinar presentation slides here.

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Walkbase provides a retail analytics solution for improving the impact of marketing on physical stores and personalising in-store shopping experience.