Gone are the days of relying on anecdotes from store employees to judge the effectiveness of a display or the fluidity of a footpath. Technology takes things a step further with hard and fast data from heat mapping.
Traditionally, heat mapping was used to improve website UX by tracking mouse and eye movement for more intuitive placement of buttons, banners and other pertinent information. Now, retailers use it to deliver an unparalleled info stack for making informed choices about improving store layouts and maximizing sales for brick-and-mortar stores. And, it’s not just big box retailers, either! Small businesses, just like yours, capitalize on technology to take their business to the forefront.
How Does Heat Mapping Work?
For those who are new to the concept, heat mapping is a visual data analysis of traffic values (hot and cold zones) in your store depicted by color. Typically, high traffic zones are displayed in warm tones – red and orange – while low traffic zones are noted in cool greens and blues.
There a couple of popular options for transforming your store into a heat map.
1. Video Cameras
Whether a company or software taps into your CCTV cameras or places their own equipment, they record traffic flow and transform the data received over a set amount of time into a heat map of the store for the specified range.
2. Beacons & WiFi
Some service providers use the WiFi signal coming from guests’ phones to follow footpath and engagement times, again, presenting a full set of data in heat map form.
How Can I Use Heat Mapping?
Gauge the effectiveness of product displays.
When you see how often people interact with or ignore certain displays, you’re better able to judge the interest level in the product or determine whether the items simply need to be moved to a more prominent position. If, after moving the items, they’re still being ignored, it might be time to rethink your inventory.
Maximize your store’s square footage.
You’re paying rent (or mortgage payments) for every square foot of space in your home furnishing store or design studio. Use heat mapping to move your most sought-out items to underused areas in the name of drawing traffic to that area. When people move into that space, a discovery opportunity exists for other things they may have missed prior to your maximizing the space.
Identify and correct problems with traffic flow.
Heat mapping allows you to see bottlenecks and rearrange shelving and displays in such a way that it reorients your guests, allowing them to move through your retail store or studio in a more fluid. By doing so, you’re raising the visibility of additional products, giving guests access to even more merchandise than before.
Gather additional staffing information.
When you study the lines and wait times in your store with heat mapping, you can get a clear view of peak traffic wait times that may require additional staffing to minimize the line keep people quickly for an improved customer experience.
Judge the success of outdoor displays.
Use heat mapping to determine the length of time people spend at your store window or sidewalk display compared to whether they come inside to make a purchase.
Proceed with Care and Use Caution in Data Analysis
It’s easy to get carried away with making store changes after receiving the results of your heat mapping. Press pause, breathe and remember that heat mapping is not the mothership of store success. Heat mapping is simply another valuable (and really, really, really cool) tool in your merchandising toolbox.
The data you collect from heat mapping should work in conjunction with anecdotal evidence, sales reports and even “gut feelings.”
After all, there are always variables to consider when measuring the success of your in-store experience. For example, weather determines whether people are out and about; the day of the week and where it falls in relation to pay periods impacts the till; and time of day tells us if someone is in a rush to get back to the office.
The right heat mapping partner will help you understand all of this in relation to your store’s traffic patterns, engagements and linger times.
At the end of the day, heat mapping technology offers high-quality information about what’s going on in your brick-and-mortar. By reading the map, you can glean ideas and opportunities to enhance your store and chart the course to create a better buying experience for your customers. And, in return, better sales for you - and THAT is pretty hot . . . which is just the way we like it.