Retail in Asia


Analysing footfall: How to leverage Asia’s evolving retail landscape to deliver an exceptional customer journey

The retail landscape across Asia has witnessed a significant transformation, propelled by a surge in technology and the demand for enhanced customer experiences. Amidst this evolution, footfall measurement stands as a longstanding cornerstone, offering invaluable insights for retailers and advertisers to comprehend customer behaviour through data-driven analysis.

In an era marked by laborious manual footfall counting, characterised by its limitations in yielding elementary data, pioneering businesses recognised the potential for innovation. This transformation has ushered in a wave of sophisticated technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Beacons and smartphones, facilitating precise, real-time data collection and providing information on customer interactions and behaviours.

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Footfall measurement: The  bridge between online and offline

Source: Shutterstock

At the heart of this paradigm shift lies footfall measurement, connecting the dots between online and offline customer journeys. Its role as a vital link has been demonstrated by those at the forefront, leveraging its capabilities to gain a comprehensive understanding of customer behaviour across multiple channels.

Footfall measurement, the technology-driven tracking of customer traffic in physical stores, has emerged as a powerful tool for retailers in Asia to gain valuable insights into customer behaviour and optimise their operations. 

Footfall data can reveal insights into customer demographics, dwell times, movement patterns, and conversion rates. Businesses, particularly with large footprints, can understand how customers move through the store and what products they are interested in while also analysing the customer’s interaction with marketing efforts. All this information can be used to optimise store layout, product placement, and marketing campaigns, which in turn can also be used to improve store performance. 

By gaining understanding of the customer’s journey across various online and offline touchpoints,  businesses can then strategise a holistic and cohesive customer experience. This is imperative in today’s customer-centric environment, where customers expect a seamless and unified experience across all interactions. 

This is incredibly important as even with the expanding realm of ecommerce, over 85 percent of transactions continue to take place in physical stores, as reported by Internet Retailer. 

This underscores the ongoing significance of attracting in-person foot traffic. Additionally, there has been a substantial increase of over 150 percent in mobile searches using the term ‘near me’. But how do we implement this?

Successful implementation of footfall measurement

Brands and retailers must take note, particularly in Southeast Asia, where offline spend is catching up to online spend post-Covid – in fact, 71 percent of retailers in Asia Pacific now expect to open new stores in 2023. 

According to CBRE’s 2023 Asia Pacific Retail Flash Survey, nearly 50 percent of businesses in the region anticipate a shift of online spending to brick-and-mortar stores. Additionally, 42 percent of respondents foresee foot traffic in physical stores returning to pre-pandemic levels. The latter part of 2022 witnessed a stabilisation of physical retail outlets, with increased investments in the sector. 

Notably, markets such as Australia, Singapore, and Japan, which swiftly reopened their borders, have spearheaded retail investments. Japan, in particular, stands out as a preferred market due to its resilience against high-interest rates. For this region in particular, it’s fair to say the opportunity is massive.

But what steps can businesses take? Integrating footfall measurement into business operations involves several crucial steps for a successful implementation. To successfully implement footfall measurement, businesses should consider these four key steps.

Source: Shutterstock
Clear and measurable goals

Establish measurable objectives aligned with business needs. Whether it’s maximising seasonal campaigns, driving traffic to specific areas, or enhancing customer lifetime value, defining clear goals helps identify relevant metrics for tracking progress.

Data collection and analysis

To effectively bridge the gap, businesses should prioritise building a first-party data strategy. Collecting and organising customer data across touchpoints, such as online campaigns and track in-store visits, allows for a deeper understanding of individual preferences and behaviours. With a robust data strategy, you can target and engage customers more effectively, regardless of the channel they choose. 

While every company aspires to be data-driven, Forrester’s findings indicate that merely 29 percent of businesses can effectively link analytics to actionable insights. 

Be the exception, not the rule.

Utilisation and personalisation

Leverage the gathered data to tailor personalised ads and offers. By employing Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) strategies, you can personalise your marketing messages and experiences to cater to the needs of various audience segments. Understanding the preferences and shopping habits of customers who prefer online versus in-store experiences can inform strategies, call-to-actions (CTAs), key performance indicators (KPIs) and more, tailoring them to each group. Segment customers based on preferences and where they are in their journey, enhancing the likelihood of engagement and repeat visits. 

Integration and collaboration

Break down silos between offline and online teams. It is important to foster better communication, planning and understanding between digital and traditional media and marketing teams.  Integrating these strategies ensures consistent messaging, unified efforts, and maximises marketing ROI. By aligning goals and fostering communication between teams, businesses can create a unified approach towards customer engagement.

Digital advertising offers brands the chance to convey personalised messages that connect with their intended audience. Through the utilisation of data analytics and customer insights, brands can create personalised advertisements that speak to the unique needs and interests of prospective customers. The major takeaway: you must marry digital strategies with offline marketing goals to succeed.

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In the evolving retail landscape of Asia, footfall measurement stands as a beacon, guiding businesses toward a deeper understanding of customer behaviour. Its implementation, when approached systematically, provides a comprehensive view of online and offline interactions, paving the way for personalised, efficient, and cohesive customer experiences. By embracing footfall measurement, businesses in Asia can bridge the divide between physical and digital realms, driving success in an increasingly competitive market.

Just as the retail industry has adapted and evolved, so too has the approach to understanding customer behaviour. With a strategic and informed approach to footfall measurement, businesses in Asia can navigate the evolving retail landscape to better cater to the needs and expectations of their customers.

About the author

This piece is authored by Joshua Wilson, commercial director, Japan and APAC, of Crimtan, a customer lifecycle marketing firm with offices around the world including in Dubai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and New York.