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Convert window shoppers into customers:

How gut feel combined with data driven decision making creates the ultimate visual merchandising.

How to improve your window conversions through visual merchandising
*This article is targeted at Retail Managers and Visual Merchandising Managers who want to improve their conversion rates

Maximising Retail Window Conversion

Summary:

Although a visual merchandising manager’s experience and knowledge of a business are important, window conversion metrics help determine the most effective visual merchandising strategies. Visual merchandising managers who combine window design experience, money mapping and window conversion metrics (entry mapping) can maximise the incoming flow of visitors into the store to gain an advantage over the competition.

The importance of window conversion

The store window is often the first touch point in the customer journey. It’s a retailer’s call to action, a statement that entices passers-by to visit the store and make a purchase. Merchandising the window, and the entire store, are some of the most expensive ongoing costs to a bricks and mortar business. Studies have shown that shoppers spend no more than three seconds trying to understand a store’s value proposition as they walk past and decide whether to enter or not.

The complexity of the visual merchandising process makes it one of the most expensive operations for any retailer. This is coupled with the challenge of finding the right balance between fresh creative designs and the pressure of meeting commercial goals. A great visual merchandising manager can make a substantial difference to the bottom line. Fresh window designs can draw in crowds of new customers as well as bring existing customers back. In fact, one of our retail partners, a women’s fashion chain, introduces new window layouts on a weekly basis!

Therefore, it is crucial that retailers measure changes in window conversion over time to get a better understanding of the designs and category of display merchandise that most effectively bring visitors into the store.   

Window conversion will vary according to retail market segment. But, as a reference point, a retail study conducted by Euclid Analytics in the US indicated that, on average, 111 out of 1,000 passers-by walk into stores in the December festive month. In January 2015, that number has dropped to 93 out of 1,000 passers-by.

Getting window conversion right

The design of windows typically begin with ‘money mapping’. This is a standard industry technique to match products displayed at the window to in-store buying trends. The reasoning behind this is that displaying the most popular products will increase the likelihood of passers-by visiting the store.

However, ‘money mapping’ is only the first step to window design. The next step, that many retailers miss, is gathering actual feedback and then optimising their merchandising based on an analysis of window conversion. We call this process ‘entry mapping’. The difficulty is that you need window conversion data for this process.

Window conversion data provides a powerful, complementary tool for the visual merchandising manager to obtain immediate actionable feedback allowing them to understand which of their strategies attract customers into the store. On top of that, the data can help determine the ‘shelf-life’ of windows to optimise the schedule for fresh window designs.

Visual merchandising managers can use the same data to design and evaluate marketing programs and schedule promotions for low traffic days. Deeper analysis can be done to take into account factors including weather, holidays, promotional calendar and seasonal trends. With a good understanding of the factors that influence window conversion, a retailer could predict, with considerable accuracy, store performance over time and what impact any proposed window changes might have.

It is surprising that the majority of visual merchandising managers do not have any other feedback for new window designs other than daily sale figures. Sales figures do not give direct information regarding window effectiveness. It is extremely difficult to improve window merchandising strategy when useful data is scarce.

Window conversion measurement methods

When exploring ways to measure window conversion, retailers will need to take into account accuracy, ease of implementation and affordability. It is important to have a reliable method that filters out children and employees from the data to better reflect actual window effectiveness.

There are many documented methods of measuring window conversion. However, the most popular three are:

  1. Manual observation.
  2. Video or thermal cameras.  
  3. Wi-Fi sensors.

A more in-depth discussion of foot traffic measurement technologies will be published in a future post.

At Kepler we believe that a strategy that is relatively low cost and is as effective as manual counting, without the hassle of compiling data, is one that will be most useful to most businesses. We understand that you may have unique needs and you should do as much research as possible before choosing your foot traffic and visual merchandising analysis tool.

The Kepler Sensor:

Kepler provides a low cost and reliable solution to help you count foot traffic and understand your window’s merchandising strategies through real time data. We don’t capture any personal information, so there are no privacy issues to worry about. All of our data is stored securely and uploaded directly to you on a simple to use dashboard. We can help you gain an unfair advantage over your competitors.  

Additional tips:

  • Window conversion data needs to be captured and analysed on a continuous basis. The data will change with fresh windows and only on-going data can adequately give visual merchandising managers proper feedback. There is very little point capturing window conversion intermittently.
  • Window conversion data can help retailers quantify the impact of online marketing campaigns on in-store activity.
  • Advanced retailers use internal (cross location) window conversion benchmarking to determine under-performing store locations. This can also show you the effectiveness of visual merchandising regionally.    
  • Constantly experiment with different windows to determine the most effective strategies. Use ‘entry mapping’ to obtain immediate feedback on changes that increased or decreased window conversion. For retailers who need to maintain similar windows nationally at any given time, try opening ‘concept stores’ as a way to experiment.
  • Retailers could evaluate potential new store locations by combining foot traffic data of shortlisted locations with company wide window conversion rates.

You can follow us on twitter at @KeplerAnalytics or email us for more information at: info@kepleranalytics.com.au
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