Finnish startup RapidBlue has just added a new version of its analytics solution for retailers that allows them to collect and analyze information about patrons who don’t end up making a purchase in their stores. The system integrates with RapidBlue’s more traditional data around sales made in a store, and also ties to a company’s existing point-of-sale technology so that all the data is in the same place. In a way, what RapidBlue has done is bring some of the power of website analytics to physical businesses, which should resonate with brick-and-mortar stores trying to remain competitive with their online equivalents.
“Our vision really is to bring measurability to brick-and-mortar,” RapidBlue COO Sampo Parkkinen said in an interview, explaining how the idea evolved. “We started out building a product that’s effectively Google Analytics for brick-and-mortar, but we realized quite quickly that for brick-and-mortar that’s not quite enough. They’re not really data-hungry the way the web guys are, so we needed to take it a step further.”
RapidBlue’s tech tracks store visitors via the Bluetooth signals their phones are emitting, though Parkkinen said that the company can really use any kind of radio transmitting tech to ID phones, including Wi-Fi or potentially NFC. Using the unique MAC address that comes with every device transmitting on a wireless frequency, RapidBlue can spot and monitor the progress of visitors who never even make it to the cash register.
For RapidBlue, the key to further success down the road will be delivering more granular data about non-converting visits to retail stores. That should get a significant boost as the technology behind indoor positioning systems progress. Eventually, RapidBlue should be able to be much more specific about a shopper’s movement within a store, possibly keeping track of their precise movements with accuracy on the scale of a few feet, instead of a few meters as is possible now. That will provide retailers with valuable info about which parts of their store are catching consumer interest, and which are passed by consistently and therefore not likely contributing much to their overall sales.
Eventually, the company also intends to provide ways to track shoppers over longer periods of time, developing profiles of individuals to offer up even more data to retailers about the customers who are visiting, but not buying. All of said data will of course be anonymized, and not tied to any specific person or people, and Parkkinen said that they’ll be encroaching on personal privacy no more than existing website analytics or retailer reward/loyalty programs do.
“One thing that is really going to increase our value is that we’ve recently been granted an EU-wide patent on profiling consumers based on their location found through radio frequency signals,” he explained. “What that means is basically we’re able to provide, in association with our POS product, not only what were their non-converted shopping trips like and how those compared to the converted ones, but also who do those non-converted shopping trips represent.” Information in the profile of shoppers could include what type of stores they usually frequent, and how often their visits result in conversions.
It’s an interesting space, and RapidBlue’s approach is fairly unique. The company is taking lessons learned from the web and applying them to businesses in a way that’s easy to use with existing systems, which is bound to be attractive to retailers. While right now the insights you can gain from visitors who don’t buy might be minimal (i.e., how long did they spend in a store), the future is wide open as location services on mobile devices are set for significant evolution.