Retail metrics help stores make a variety of decisions from staffing to merchandise ordering. As college stores reopen for fall under new restrictions, limited capacity and social distancing requirements, what bookstore analytic metrics will be most important?
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, phrases like the new normal have been used, but what does that really mean for retail? Things might not necessarily go back to what was considered normal pre-pandemic. The already growing popularity of online shopping has spiked during this time and consumer shopping behaviors have evolved.
So as your store reopens, what metrics can help you make the necessary adjustments?
- Online eCommerce data
Throughout the pandemic, your website has continued to be a connection to your shoppers. Analyze the type of merchandise that has been popular on your website, the most popular email communication and social media posts with the highest interactions. These things can help you determine what customers are looking for right now. As you set up the store to reopen, feature the online best sellers in prominent positions in the store and also on the website. This will make it easy for customers to find the merchandise they are looking for and improve customer convenience.
- Historic sales data
This fall probably won’t look exactly like last fall, but you can still analyze that data to determine your peak sales times. If the store was busy from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. last year, you might want to have more staff to help move customers through faster and to make sure people are wearing masks as they come in. Additionally, if 8 a.m. is traditionally a slow time for the store, you might want to make that shopping time only available for at-risk shoppers. That way they can safely navigate the store with fewer people.
Another era of historical shopping data you might want to look at is 2008 to 2009. This will tell you how student shopping behavior might have changed during the previous economic downturn. This data will help you better prepare for the shopping behaviors you could see this fall.
- Preferred delivery methods
Pay close attention to the delivery methods students have been choosing. If curbside pickup has been a popular choice over the summer, consider offering that for fall as well. If you had a well-received sale event in the past, it might need to be updated this fall. Shoppers may not feel comfortable coming into the store. By offering a curbside pickup option for the sale, they could still participate in the event and feel more comfortable. Keep the options students prefer open to better serve the entire campus community.
Most importantly, try to stay as flexible and agile as possible this fall. This is a great time to take a creative approach to traditional layouts, events and sales. Adapt them for the current conditions and give customers a fresh, revitalized retail experience this fall. While things may not be business as usual, the new normal can still provide college stores with a lot of opportunity to serve their campuses.