5 Ways Heat Mapping Is One Of The Next Big Things

Imagine you could track the behavior of your customers in your store in real time including what aisles they go to, what sections they avoid, where they linger, and what products they touch.

Imagine the possibility of understanding the mouse movements of your consumers as they browse on your website: where they hover, what they click on, and scroll over. At Fueled, we mulled over some possible options before we settled on something.

Heat Mapping  

In a 2013 report Accenture released on retail practice, they found, “Consumers [now] more than ever, want to shop on their terms…[they] expect every step in the journey to be a seamless one, whether they are online, shopping in a store or using their phones.”  

Adapting heat-mapping technology is going to be one way to remain competitive. For online and retailers specifically, the technology can be looked at as a type of “Feng Shui” where data collected from the heat map software will be used to optimize user experiences on websites and in stores.

Online, heat maps can be use to identify the specific areas of a website consumers are engaging with by using clicks and mouse movement. At store level the technology is implemented in security cameras, and captures images customer movements and activity around the store in real time.

Data collected is represented as a visual of the website or store, layered with various colors that represent variables such as footpaths, clicks, dead zones, etc.

Prism SkyLabs Inc. is one of the leading software companies providing heat-mapping services in store. Since launching, they have successfully implemented their software in “dozens of small businesses including one major electronic company.” The ability to remotely access your heat maps, lets you make decisions and manage your in store activity anytime, anywhere.

RetailNext, another major company serving data analytics to physical retailers, has introduced in their latest platform upgrade: gender detection software, wi-fi based analytics to detect WiFi enabled smartphones and tablets around the store, and multiple camera angles to few customer activity.

It is undeniable that heat mapping is an exceptional technology and these are the key reasons why it’s going to be an essential tool for retailers to remain competitive in today’s market.

Superior customer behavior analysis

The ability to track in real time includes everything from what customers touch in store to the specific path they take while walking around or browsing before leaving or making a purchase. Understanding

With the ability to track what customers are touching or clicking on — retail managers can identify possible opportunities or problems with their merchandise (e.g., if there is a trend of customers are touching or clicking on certain products but not purchasing it, perhaps the price point is too high).

Trend and pattern identification, take the guesswork out for retailers in understanding their clientele, allowing them to make more informed decisions.

Responsive and Flexible design

Strategic product placement at store level is a marketing tactic grocery stores have employed for years, however heat mapping enables managers to track the effectiveness of the design.

Heat mapping compiles data through its cameras to indicate foot traffic through color representation. Dead spots, bottlenecks, high traffic zones are key insights for creating an optimal planogram. In addition, modifications to the layout can be monitored instantly to indicate a negative or positive correlation to sales.

Responsive and flexible design is an asset to thriving in today’s dynamic and unpredictable retail environment.

Tailored marketing initiatives

Understanding what catches customers eyes both online and in store lets companies make strategic decisions with their promotional activities. It also helps them with placement of popular vs. less popular items and expensive vs. cheap merchandise.

For example, if customers online are constantly hovering over specific dress styles or purses it could suggest high interest levels in these products. Featuring them on the homepage could result in more customer engagement.  

In addition, timeline tracking lets managers see the activity that is happening on certain days and hours of the week. Long-term patterns may suggest pushing promotions during quieter or busier times (e.g., Starbuck’s Canada’s ‘Happy Hour’ promotion offers consumers discounted drinks from 3-5pm). These activities show customer appreciation.

Decrease costs

The time tracking feature of heat maps can indicate long term trends of customer activity, like peak and slow times. This can assist managers in making better staffing decisions to avoid under and over-staffing.  

Cincinnati grocery store, Kroger, recognized the need to stay competitive with online stores and outlets and implemented heat mapping technology in stores to reduce wait times. Since its implementation, average wait times have reduced to 26 seconds, formerly 4 minutes.

Not only have the benefits been in reducing costs, but also in offering better customer service.

About the Author:
This guest post has written by Diana Zelikman. Fueled is the world’s premier development and strategy firm specializing in creating Android and iPhone apps.

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