What every retailer should know about responsive retail

Websites and online stores stores know: if they don’t show their visitors relevant content they can leave in a second.  We believe the same is true for offline. And offline too, it is possible to serve relevant content to different customers. They key is responsive retail: turning data into immediate action. If we look at the evolution of retail decision making we see that for a long time periodical reports and dashboards on KPIs have dominated. To keep up with online competitors, the modern retailer wants to understand its customers to a higher degree and therefore invests in collecting behavioral data. While this is already enough of a challenge we believe that in the near future more and more retailers will invest in ‘responsive retail’, real time data analysis with immediate response.

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Let’s start with how responsiveness works on the web. Take for instance Google. They know that knowledge is power. Your search results might be different from those of the person sitting next to you searching for the exact same term. The search results are tailored to your needs based on previous searches and everything else Google knows about you. To many, using data in such an instantly responsive manner might seem restricted to the web. But this isn’t true and we want to give some example of how responsive retailing can also work for physical stores.

Real-time people profiler

One of the newest tools in this field are real-time people profilers, mainly tailored to luxury retailers. A people profiler is able to recognize a customer and tell whether they’ve previously entered the store. If the high-end retailer keeps track of customer data, through for instance loyalty programs, they will not only be able to see whether the customer entered before, but also what she bought and how much she spent. This information can immediately be seen on, for instance, a smartphone or watch and be used to the salesperson’s advantage.

Automated music adjustments

Researchers have conducted many studies on the influence of sensory experiences and buying behavior, especially the role of music has received a lot of attention. One study concluded that young shoppers tend to spend more time shopping when music is played on the foreground, while older shoppers prefer background music. Moreover, buying behavior of groups is different than single shoppers. Couples or groups want to talk while shopping and the loud music that some stores play does not accommodate to that. We foresee that in the future retailers might use camera’s that track demographics of shoppers – already available – to immediately and automatically adjust music to whatever demographic group dominates the store or part of the store at that moment.

Stimulating all senses

Shopping in physical stores is all about experience. Music, but also smell, lighting and temperature has its effects. Some general rules exist, such as that it´s advisable to create contrast with lighting. However, in this case too there is a difference between demographic groups. Men take in a broad overview of a retail space, whereas women tend to look at details. It is therefore important to adapt the direction of light, light color, and lighting intensity to make sure it is appropriate to the group’s behavior.  Temperature can also be a major factor that influences shopping behavior. For instance, retailers can have temperature sensors outside and when winter’s almost over and it’s a warm day, people might be tempted to start looking for summer clothes. Retailers can increase the temperature around light summer clothing in store to prime shoppers and increase their believe summer’s coming soon.

With new technologies quickly arising, responsive retail might soon become the new normal. It should be the core of smart, adaptive selling which puts consumers at ease when they are shopping and tries to adapt to their needs in real-time. In what ways do you think responsive retail will shape the retail landscape and how do you plan to stay ahead of the curve?