You would say there are a multitude of aspects retailers are measuring from a shopper perspective trying to gain the slightest advantage at each touch point to increase conversion. Some of these aspects are ad testing, brand awareness, path-to-purchase, digital usage, media consumption, package testing, in-store signage & POG testing.
There are new applications for existing methods such as intercepts, video mining, geo-fencing, shopper loyalty cards, ethnography, eye tracking & neuroscience . Whether direct response, indirect measures, observational, passive or active data collection are bringing to light new insights and adding more pieces to the shopper behavior puzzle every day.
Understanding shopper path throughout a retail environment was one of the great innovations in shopper insights and retail sciences. Manufacturers and retailers were able to see, for the first time, areas of the environment that were subject to higher levels of traffic and they could exploit that advantage as well as work on weaknesses in areas with low dwell times. A couple methodological issues still hindered this research from providing all it could.
- Where passive measurement such as video mining was used, the sample sizes were extraordinary and the results were accurate, but the data lacks the “why” behind the shopper paths and dwell. Not being able to link shoppers’ motivations, trip mission, planned and unplanned behavior to their path leaves quite an insights gap.
- Using a less-passive data collection method such as following individual shoppers and recording their path data by real-time data entry on a map. While this method gives researchers direct access to shoppers and the ability to measure the reason for the trip (or mission) and planned/unplanned purchases, it is a more obtrusive method. Also physically following a shopper through their entire trip would very likely affect their path and especially their purchase behavior.
By implementing this research with a different method that can leverage the strengths of passive data collection and still provide access to the shoppers, retailers can understand shopper paths at a deeper and more dissected level than in the past.
By applying mobile eye tracking in a more unconventional manner and then supplementing it with basket and post-shop data, shoppers’ paths, conversion and the “whys” that influence these behaviors can be linked together. So now, retailers can measure shoppers’:
- Path – Passive behavioral data collection captured regarding shoppers’ paths and retail layout hot spots for visual engagement.
- Trip mission – Knowing the trip mission brings to light varying paths by shopper motivations
- Basket – Using customers’ receipts, retailers can measure what was purchased by each trip mission & path and use this data to compare how changes affect baskets.
- Planned vs. unplanned purchases – leveraging the eye tracking insights with a post-shop survey, retailers can measure planned vs. unplanned purchases to understand what, if any impact displays and signage had on conversion.
The research methodology does not have to be very complicated as outlined below.
- Pre-identification of trip mission through pre-recruited or intercepted shoppers
- Passive pathing measurement through mobile eye-tracking
- Basket analysis using shoppers’ receipts
- Planned vs. unplanned purchases via post-shop survey.
This approach can be a challenging task for software and computers given the amount of visual data that needs coded. However, this new approach to pathing can provide a deeper level of understanding for retailers, and that is what is most important after all.