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Topshop in-store analytics driving format changes

Topshop and Topman regional controller Alex Hanson

Arcadia Group fashion brand Topshop has used data from in-store analytics group Walkbase to make a number of changes to its stores, despite having “Only touched the tip of the iceberg” of what the data can provide, says the retail brand’s regional controller Alex Hanson.

Walkbase installed its Wifi-based analytics system, which analyses customer movements and dwell times based on their smartphones, at Topshop’s flagship store in London’s Oxford Circus. The system can provide anonymised date on customer behaviour without them logging in to the store’s Wifi network.

Hanson requested a simple dashboard that could provide Topshop staff with curated data that could be acted upon. “I didn’t want to turn our team into data miners,” he says. Instead the system was used to tackle particular issues and to provide a business case for changes.

Chief among these was a change to the opening hours of the store, which had been opening unusually early for the area. “For the first hour of the day we did have sales, but the data showed that the conversion rate was very low. So we changed the opening hours to more effective times,” says Hanson.

The store also used the system to test the impact on conversion rates achieved by fitting call bells into the fitting rooms. These allow shoppers to request additional items or alternative size items without leaving the fitting room. Despite the extra sales staff required to service the bells the uplift in sales among those who had entered the fitting rooms showed the investment was worthwhile.

“We are now talking to Walkbase about providing weekly reports that are targeted towards particular KPIs [key performance indicators],” says Hanson. The system could be used to refine store layouts and locate advertising messages more effectively.

Hanson was speaking at the launch of a partnership between Walkbase and Samsung, which will Walkbase’s analytics system installed in Samsung digital screens. The system will allow retailers, shopping centres and other venues to gain easier access to customer movement data and to more effectively monetise their assets, says Walkbase UK managing director Adrian James.

James says the system will allow retailers to take back ownership of the screen networks in their stores, showing how many customers see content and letting the stores sell advertising space to brands or use it for their own sales messages. “We can understand dwell times and even the most common paths taken between aisle,” he says. “A huge amount of money goes into trade promotions to increase the volumes of sales and this means it can be used more effectively.”