Christmas is getting earlier and earlier every year and nothing symbolises the start of the Christmas shopping season better than Black Friday. While most of us are not that diligent, according to a recent survey, a growing number of consumers are beginning to start holiday shopping earlier every year – so how can we utilise consumer behaviour to be best prepped for Black Friday and beyond? Pieter Engelbrecht, business unit manager at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, offers some ideas
Even though online shopping has become a staple for most of us, Black Friday puts the rules to one side as racing for those tangible Christmas presents is top of mind for most consumers. If you are in retail business anywhere in the world, you are certainly paying close attention to these trends and forecasts. And if your job is to make the in-store experience the best ever for the Christmas shopping season, every piece of customer intelligence is critical for claiming your share of the billions being spent this year.

Taking the guesswork out of tracking customer traffic
To help customers better understand traffic patterns, it is important to understand retail analytics through real time cloud services. These capabilities are designed to give you real-time and historical insight into customers by looking at Wi-Fi statistics gathered from the smartphones that everyone carries today. Whether this be tracking the time spent in a certain areas of the store, or even determining the best layout of the store, allowing more potential consumers to pass through.
Since every person that walks by is a prospective customer, this is important information. You now have the ability to see how many actually entered the store, when during the day, and stayed for how long. And also share data with marketing and upper management ahead of and during Black Friday weekend. Capturing this valuable data doesn’t require you to install and manage additional hardware, and the shopper doesn’t even need to be connected to the network. You leverage the same Wi-Fi and management tools that you run your business on. It’s an excellent way to put your Wi-Fi to work for boosting business.

Make smarter business decisions to attract more shoppers
Once you have the essential customer traffic data, you can recognise patterns and find opportunities to prep your store. By tracking passer-by traffic you can easily increase in-store traffic on the day by testing different storefront displays, signage, and campaign offers beforehand, so marketing and sales have a better way to judge what provides the highest conversion from a passer-by to an in-store visitor.
You can also track how long shoppers stay in the store. This can be used to improve shopper engagement by testing different store layouts and merchandising. Floor staffing can also be adjusted to ensure that shoppers are receiving the best in-store experience possible.

Not all stores are equal
By using WiFi products capable in real time analytics of consumer activity, you can customise how you measure and calculate conversions based on what works best for you, whether you have 10 stores or 2000. This could be the data that allows shop floor managers to make sure they have ordered stock most likely to achieved the greatest sales over the Black Friday weekend.
More importantly, you not only get great insight into how each individual store is performing but also how multiple stores compare against each other, which allows you to determine where and how to make your investments to capitalise on the pinnacle of the Christmas Shopping period.