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Elevating the In-Store Experience Through Data

newsOctober 31, 2019 By Arick Abbou

Retailers haven’t waited for the ascent of e-commerce to harness data in their growth strategy. The Huff Model, a popular method using census information, store size and distance to predict consumer spatial behaviour and ultimately decide about the best store location, is more than 50 years old.[i] Loyalty cards – and the troves of shopper insights they enable – gained traction in the 1990s when online transactions were still in their infancy. Since then, consumers have learned to use data to their advantage, empowered by technology: 78.1 million people in the United States use Amazon on their mobile phone to compare prices or availability online when shopping in a physical store.[ii] Brands must keep innovating to improve their in-store shopping experience and remain the preferred choice of customers over competitors.



 In-store experience doesn’t have to be grandiose to matter to consumers. For instance, Walmart added a Store Assistant in its app to make the shopping experience more convenient for customers, from groceries list to returns. Recognising that 80% of consumers make lists prior to visiting a store, Walmart lets them enter items in natural language in the app, which returns stock level and price at their local store.[i] Walmart also input its store layouts inside the app, so that consumers can now quickly locate an item from their list on a store map and easily navigate between aisles.[ii]. Shoppers can initiate a return on their smartphone by looking up both their online and offline purchase history and generating a QR code to present to Customer Service when dropping off their return.[iii] With other features such as Easy Reorder,[iv] the Walmart app makes the data vs. value exchange tangible to customers and delivers against the four pillars of the Commerce Success Framework: availability, findability, buyability and repeatability.

Source: Now in the Walmart App: Store Assistant, Walmart on Youtube


Another interesting example is the Nike by Melrose store in Los Angeles that uses local digital data such as buying patterns and mobile application engagement to inform the in-store assortment, matched to specific local preferences regardless of Nike’s broader seasonal priorities. Additionally, customers can reserve products through the application and pick them up via smart lockers, book one-to-one sessions with associates also through the app, and scan any barcode with their smartphone to check the product inventory, online and in store.[v]



 Face-to-face guidance and advice from sales assistants is a key element of differentiation for physical stores vs. their online counterparts. Although easy access to customer and product data can empower sales associates to drive more personal and relevant conversations with shoppers, less than half (45%) of store associates can access their store’s inventory according to Newstore.[vi] Improving access to data is particularly important for luxury brands, whose consumers expect increased levels of attention. For instance, Neiman Marcus lets its associates quickly collect information through voice-activated wearable devices to spend more time with consumers.[vii] To get started, marketers can make the most of product feeds and CRM data used across their digital environments to feed their associates with actionable data on the sales floor.


This article is excerpted from the report Data-Driven Commerce. Download it now for key insights on winning at commerce in the new digital economy.



[i] David L. Huff, Land Economics, A Probabilistic Analysis of Shopping Center Trade Areas, February 1963

[ii] M1, DAN’s proprietary data platform, September 20, 2018 

[iii] Walmart, Your Shopping Trip Just Got Easier with This New Store Assistant, February 2018

[iv] Walmart, Your Shopping Trip Just Got Easier with This New Store Assistant, February 2018

[v] Walmart, Walmart Reinvents the Returns Process, October 2017

[vi] Walmart, How Easy Reorder is Making Shopping Even … Easier, July 2017

[vii] Nike, Nike Opens Nike by Melrose Store in Los Angeles, July 2018

[viii] NewStore, Omnichannel leadership report 2018-2019

[ix] Retail Info Systems, First Look: The Technology Behind Neiman Marcus’s New Retail Experience at New York’s Hudson Yards, March 2019