Offline Analytics in the Real World

With all the talk about on-line marketing, this is still a real world. After 20 years as the world's biggest online retailer, Amazon opened its first real bookstore last month in Seattle, Washington and New York City. Companies like Birchwood, and Frank & Oak are among the many online retailers who have joined the drive to open retail outlets aimed at providing a seamless shopping experience across all retail channels.

What is emerging in the marketplace is a convergence of cyber shopping and real world retail. Many consumers are drawn to stores because of marketing that attracts them online or through SMS marketing on cell phones. Many customers still prefer to touch and view things they want to buy in real life, then actually buy them online. At the same time, retail stores are using sophisticated IT like mobile POS systems and alternative payment systems to improve their operations.

Sophisticated online metrics and analytics have a long, established history. Since online behavior is comparatively easy to track, software tools connected to marketing sites and landing pages are widely available. Data collection for real world retail that can provide useful offline analytics requires a different world of technology.

Wi-Fi detection and mobile presence analytics is a powerful approach to the headcount problem that has plagued retail businesses for many years. A "sniffer" device detects the presence of internet enabled cell phones and mobile devices and collects data on the traffic outside and inside the store. Each mobile device is uniquely identified so individuals can be automatically tracked. Data collected is stored and analyzed in the cloud.

The system correlates foot-traffic data with POS data and can produce analysis on an hourly basis. Locations on the floor can also be tracked so that the effectiveness of local marketing and advertising efforts can be assessed. The analytics can provide insights about queuing time and customer support effectiveness as well.

Wi-Fi detection and location monitoring give the real world retail environment marketing and sales analytics comparable to that available for online marketing.