In-Store Analytics: 3 Things You Need to Know

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by Lisa Cramer

Right now 1 in 3 shoppers will purchase from a company or brand other than the one they planned to because of information received in the moment (Google).

Guided by real-time analytics, we’re already delivering this online. But, what about in-store?

Despite its hold on the majority of all retail sales, brick-and-mortar is still largely defined by mass-marketing, spray-and-pray marketing tactics. But, now new advances in-store analytics are closing the gap, with online-like analytics in-store for both retailers and brands.

Here is my breakdown of the 3 things you need to know about in-store analytics right now…

1) Your Options

Outside of the standard door counter which we’ve been using for years, right now there are 3 main types of in-store analytics technologies available, all with various pros and cons. As we go through these, you’ll find that in-store analytics isn’t just for retailers anymore, there are now real solutions for individual brands inside these stores to get highly detailed in-store analytics as well, even at the shelf-level.

i) WiFi Analytics
This option is best fit for a retailer, or a brand partnering with a retailer. Shoppers are tracked while in-store via their mobile device, whenever they opt to use the store’s WiFi. This is perhaps the easiest and cheapest way to get analytics around: traffic counts and traffic flow. But, it is also perhaps the riskiest and most inaccurate. Here’s why. Since WiFi was never really designed for tracking, you’ll be able to get rough approximations of where shoppers are in your store, but it will not have the accuracy promised by the other solutions or required to give an individual brand any real insights. Also important to note, companies like Apple, AVG Labs and Blackphone are all working on solutions to protect shoppers’ anonymity and reduce tracking accuracy. So essentially, in the very near future mobile tracking via WiFi could become obsolete as more and more smartphone players follow this trend.


  • Inexpensive
  • WiFi usage is becoming widely accepted by shoppers


  • Biased data—only counts shoppers with smartphones
    • (Consider This: Only 64% if U.S. adults own a smartphone.)
  • Location tracking lacks precision—only good for rough estimates
  • Unreliable traffic counting—relies on WiFi signal, which is easily lost or interrupted
  • Could Become Obsolete

ii) Bluetooth Analytics
This option comes in two main flavors—smart carts and location-based beacons.

First, let’s talk about smart carts. This is another option best fit for retailers or brands partnering with a retailer. Small Bluetooth radios and sensors are attached to shopping carts to track the cart’s location so retailers can offer promotions, eliminate checkout lines and gather foot traffic patterns. Analytics you can capture typically includes: overall footfall traffic patterns, how customers navigate the store and where customers dwell, for how long. Smart carts cannot capture shopper interactions with individual brands along their store journey.

Smart Cart Pros:

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Accurate traffic analytics
  • Can serve dynamic offers based on shopper’s location & capture subsequent analytics

Smart Cart Cons:

  • Only makes sense for specific retailers—carts aren’t widely used to shop all retailers

Now lets’ talk about popular beacon options. This option is good for both retailers and brands. Using your mobile app and small sensors called beacons installed in-store, you can trigger real-time, personalized mobile marketing notifications/promotions once consumers are within a certain range of the store. It also will not be able to give you specific analytics around interactions with your specific display.

Beacon Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Delivers extremely personalized mobile marketing messages & captures subsequent analytics

Beacon Cons:

  • Requires creation of a mobile app—if you don’t already have one
  • Requires shoppers download your mobile app
  • Inaccurate counting & biased data—only captures smartphone users with bluetooth turned on

iii) Video Analytics
This option is a good fit for both brands and retailers. In particular, it’s a great option for individual brands inside brick-and-mortar trying to understand how shoppers interact with their brand. Pin-hole-sized cameras can be embedded in shelves, ceilings, displays (existing or new) or just anything you’ve placed in store. While capabilities vary across platforms, some software is actually able to determine the gender and age of shoppers in addition to counting the number of shoppers that walk by, look at and engage with your brand daily. And, given the precision and flexibility of this solution, it’s also a great fit for retailers trying to understand storefront performance or how shoppers interact with specific zones/categories.


  • In-depth brand-level, engagement analytics—even at the shelf
  • Highly precise traffic analytics—does not depend on signal strength or the shopper’s smartphone
  • Completely anonymized technology—no images or personal data of shoppers is ever stored


  • Requires some installation—whether in a display, in the shelf, in the ceiling, storefront, etc.
  • Anonymized technology makes this option not as personalized as beacons

2) What to Measure

We’ve touched on some of these new metrics afforded in-store with analytics above, but let’s take a closer look. You’ll see that many of the metrics you’ve been gathering online, you can now start gathering in-store.

i) Site Traffic

  • Understand how many shoppers enter the retail store

ii) Visitor Flow (Depth of Site Exploration / Time on Site)

  • How they move through the store
  • What areas they visit, and how long do they linger there
  • How many walk past your brand

iii) Engagement

  • How many shoppers who walk past your brand daily, look at your products or display(s)
  • Of those who look, how many stop
  • How many engaged with digitally served content (whether on screens in-store or on a mobile device)
  • How did they interact—# of clicks, pages viewed, time on page, etc.

iv) Demographic Segmentation

    For all shoppers that walk by or engage with your brand daily:

  • How many are male vs. female?
  • What age brackets do they fall into?

3) How to Get Actionable Insights

According to Gartner, by the end of 2017, most companies will have shifted from conducting market analyses on an annual/quarterly basis to a daily basis. But, how do you get there with in-store analytics and better yet, how can you gain real value there? Here are 2 key things to look for as you start looking at in-store analytics solutions to ensure you end up with actionable insights when you’re done:

  • On-Demand Dashboard: You should be able to access data daily from your own custom built dashboard. No more laggard analytics—delivered only after a couple of days or weeks. How can you really influence shoppers in the moment weeks later?
  • Segmentation: You need to be able to slice and dice your data, ideally by locations, date/time, demographics and even content.

It’s finally possible for both brands and retailers to bring the smarts of online analytics and marketing into brick-and-mortar. How could your brand or store benefit from this opportunity?

If video analytics is something you’d like to learn more about, click here.

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