Channel NewsAsia

Data analytics to help malls better cater to shoppers

Retailers are increasingly using technology to track shopper behaviour -- such data can facilitate the planning of events and promotions, and potentially help retailers better cater to consumer needs. Experts said they anticipate a wider adoption of such technology as costs come down.

SINGAPORE: Retailers are increasingly using technology to track shopper behaviour -- such data can facilitate the planning of events and promotions, and potentially help retailers better cater to consumer needs.

Singapore start-up Bimar uses a sensor which can pick up anonymous mobile phone signals -- this tracking technology can estimate shopper numbers in stores across some 100 local malls and measure how long they stay.

Bimar's tracking technology, LBASense, was presented during CommunicAsia 2014 last week.

Erel Rosenberg, CEO of Bimar, said: "Data we collect is used mainly by shopping malls themselves to know how effective they are. If something has dropped, it's very important to shopping malls to know that they need to make the change. If they're doing promotions, it's a way to measure how effective the promotion is.

"For retailers, it's very important to know which shopping mall is doing better in terms of footfall. The parameters that retailers look at is not only the rate -- how much to pay -- but also how many customers it will get."

Department store TANGS uses anonymous footfall counters to help them understand when and where shopper traffic is highest. The data helps it to decide on promotion schedules and exhibition locations.

Sherri Lim, vice president of store operations and human resource at TANGS, said: "Knowing when footfall is highest also allows us to schedule our events and limited-time promotions when we can anticipate good responses and effective use of resources.

"Additionally, knowing which entrance generates higher footfall allows us to place exhibitions and promotion posters in high visibility areas... This (data) is shared with potential new vendors and business partners, and also with our current vendors and business partners on a regular basis."

According to some experts, the high smartphone penetration makes such data more accessible -- helping retailers to better serve their customers.

Tan Shong Ye, IT risk and cybersecurity leader at PwC Singapore, said: "Organisations are able to pick up signals of the travel pattern of people... especially if we're collecting it on a real time basis, and we have more information about when people are travelling to where and at what frequency.

"That information could be very useful for exhibitors, for mall operators, for retailers to understand better how to serve their customers."

Industry watchers expect to see wider adoption as the cost of using such technology is falling. However, they also note that this relatively new trend needs to be accompanied by a good governance framework.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia