Data helps retailers create smarter stores

Smart shops will use AI to mine its customer and in-store data to make recommendations to increase sales in real-time.

Currently, the three main elements to running a bricks-and-mortar retail store are inventory, aesthetics and external influences.

The physical environment is where conventional shops still have an edge over their online competitors and a truly smart store uses customer information and internal and external data to sell more, exploiting analytics in a similar way to e-commerce sites.

RFID tags, shelf sensors and robotics are bringing granular details to shop inventory, enabling rapid reordering to reduce the likelihood of running out of a popular item. Smart inventory management can also help cut waste further up the supply chain.

In-store aesthetics impact sales – imagine a shop which could change its interior design based on the demographic of customers present that day. Technological advances mean such a prospect could soon be reality, while vital insights can be gained from analysing footfall and dwell time data. These can reveal the little-visited corners and the most commonly trod path around the store, for example, enabling the retailer to tailor the layout accordingly.

Shopping patterns are influenced by outside factors – a heatwave will drive up sales of sunscreen and barbecue equipment, for example, while a local festival might swell demand for alcohol.