Steal from digital series: All about data

By Andy Youings. 7th December 2018
Steal from digital series - All about data

The world of digital marketing has set a precedent for collecting and analysing data to its advantage. But it didn’t invent data. Long before any social media platforms were dreamed up, people stood in stores with clipboards conducting surveys and gathering statistics. The great thing is that now retailers can combine the best of real world and digital tactics to build a rich set of information that provides real insight.

While Amazon may dominate the digital marketplace with predictive analytics (their personalised recommendation tool generates 35% of their annual sales), they’re still interested in the high street – opening a variety of pop-up stores around the world. Digital can learn from the physical and, of course, vice versa.

So what can in-store campaigns pick up from their pixelated cousins, and how can they apply data thinking to hone and improve real world marketing efforts?

Collecting in-store data

While ‘big data’ is typically thought of in digital terms, in-store and experiential efforts can collect and manipulate data just as ambitiously and effectively. Whether it’s punched into a mobile device or scrawled onto a clipboard by hand, the most important thing is the data itself. So what can we track?

Sales statistics are a rich body of data that can be analysed to help you make informed sales decisions. It will tell you sales uplift, footfall for the store overall, geographical data, time of day and days of the week so you can ascertain the impact of your campaign on the bottom line. These stats come from us, working closely with the retailers themselves.

A more direct route to data gathering is surveys. Perhaps you want to know how customers feel about a new tactic or product. By asking them there and then, while they are still in the store, you can capture their immediate thoughts and observations, rather than relying on memory and perception at a later date. Don’t rely on your customer remembering to fill in a form online once they’ve got home – take advantage of your captive audience and set up a kiosk with questions on a touchscreen. Instant feedback.

It’s something we do for a lot of clients – for example, Fizz has used exit surveys at Food Warehouse. They wanted to know what customers thought of the food samples available, to gauge whether to continue with that kind of activity. They found it to be an informative exercise – telling them how many people went on to purchase the item, and their overall perception of their experience in the store.  

A final route to getting that all-important insight is coupons and vouchers. The benefit here is in tracking the customer after the initial demo. We can find out when and where customers spent their voucher post-purchase (or whether they used it at all).

How in-store data can be used

Data on its own is worthless, the real value comes in the stories it can tell you, and that comes from effective analysis. In digital marketing, for instance, you might find that you’ve encouraged ten thousand more visitors to your website than last month, but e-commerce conversions have dropped and overall sales are down. You’re attracting more people, but they’re not your audience. Either that or your e-commerce system has broken, or product pages aren’t optimised for conversion. So what can you learn from in-store data once you have it?

Well, sales data can be used to inform future campaigns, and give you info on where and when to focus other marketing activity. Do you sell more whisky (for instance) in the North East? Perhaps a focused, personalised marketing or advertising campaign for that audience could work? Do more people buy your chocolates in April than June? If so, a timely promotions campaign would make sense around that time of year.

Surveys, on the other hand, will provide demographic information, again split geographically. Not only will people give honest feedback on products giving you ideas for product tweaks or special editions in the future, you’re also building up an all-important picture of the most important people – your customers.

Surveys can help to build up a picture of your customers

Meanwhile, tracking coupons and vouchers can give vital insight into shopper habits. Did the in-store campaign have a lasting impact beyond the demonstration on the day? Did people keep the voucher and return for more? We may only be able to track the next purchase, but we can see whether the campaign has started to force habit. From here, we can see if the sales uplift is long-lasting or short term.

We want to encourage sales in the short term, of course, but part of the job of in-store is to change people’s habits and get them buying more of your products long-term. Understanding where and when people use your vouchers can again give important insight and sales data for marketing teams to assess.


Digital marketing is built on metrics and data. Because information is based on zeroes and ones, the depth of information can be a lot richer than in-store. But that doesn’t mean you can’t extract all-important details from in-store interactions.

The point is, in-store is one tactic in the brand manager or marketer’s arsenal. In-store data may not be as illuminating and thorough as those online, but when you put it together with other sales and marketing insights, it can give crucial information that isn’t available from other channels. No other form of marketing happens so directly at the point of sale than in-store. By analysing all this data holistically, savvy marketers can truly start to harness the power of in-store, and have the numbers to back it up.

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