by Karen Alberg Grossman
Shelley Kohan RetailNext
Shelley Kohan

With her strong retail background in merchandising and management, Shelley Kohan is well positioned to analyze the current retail landscape and discuss emerging trends. As current VP at RetailNext, specialists in in-store analytics, she advises retailers on harnessing shopper data to stimulate sales, create more personalized shopping experiences and build winning strategies. At a recent Retail Marketing Society (RMS) Luncheon, she shared some insights.

*On the current shopping scenario: The lines area blurred between shopping channels: department stores own specialty stores; wholesalers are also retailers. Small niche companies (Bonobos, Warby Parker) are becoming more relevant, growing at the expense of the major stores. Physical stores still generate 90 percent of all sales but the future is digital. (That said, the physical store is alive and well: 75% of consumers still want it.)

*Top emerging trends:
1. Product and price transparency, often leading to knowledge gap between sales associate and consumer (the customer often knows more than the associate.)
2. Brands are creating an ethos via sourcing, sustainability, and collaborations with unexpected partners.
3. Experiential shopping, service focus.
4. Customization and personalization (Nike sneakers that measure speed and distance; Timberland boots designed by the customer)
5. Real time visibility of shopper metrics in store.

*Key retailer challenge: To merge digital with physical. According to a recent Forrester study, by 2020, all retail sales will be influenced by mobile, yet only 37 percent of retailers have a plan to accommodate this.

*Consumer hot buttons:
1. Return anything, anytime, anywhere.
2. Price parity
3. Inventory visibility

*What in-store analytics can do for you:
1. Using various types of mapping (heat, bubble, kinetic, node), retailers can analyze traffic patterns, engagement, dwell rates and conversion. The technology tracks activity of both shoppers and sales associates.
2. With this tracking information, retailers can move departments around, change fixturing, alter the mix, add complementary product, and create new signage and in-store marketing materials as needed. Most importantly, interactions between shoppers and sellers that are shown to be quick and brief with no conversion can be improved with appropriate sales training.

*Quote of the day from audience Q&A: “That feeling when you watch your customers’ price-check your product on Amazon while they’re shopping in your store… Can in-store analytics help with that?”

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