Call it the winter of our discontent. The passage from 2014 to 2015 has brought extreme weather across the United States. Massive snowstorms are pounding the East Coast while California faces drought conditions and the Midwest faces everything in-between those two extremes. Retail sales are an indicator as to how customers feel about their personal financial and social situation and what is going on around them. Weather can be a major disruptor just as surely as a natural disaster or a major economic event. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adapt to changing weather just as quickly as you adapt to other changing factors in your business model. The key is pattern recognition, and analyzing the data you are collecting is as important as collecting it in the first place.
The best way to capture and analyze your customers’ experience is to implement an advanced video capture system that not only allows you to monitor your operations in real time from any location but also provides the tools to recognize changing patterns in your model. Let’s take a look at how weather can affect aspects of your retail sales.
The most valuable data available to you as a retailer is how your customers behave when they’re in your place of business. Whether you are selling hardware, high fashion, or consumer electronics, the ability to predict how your customers behave and anticipate their needs during specific weather conditions and seasons is a major asset. Major retailers like Sears and Wal-Mart pour serious resources into weather predictions in an attempt to meet the demands presented by their consumers. Think about how gas stations put out umbrellas when it’s raining or windshield wiper fluid when the roads are icy. By implementing video-driven analytics, you can stay ahead of the curve and offer your customers upsell items where and when you can see that the weather is changing demand. These analytics also empower you to gain a greater understanding as to whether the weather is adversely or positively affecting your business, or whether your business is achieving true sales growth that is independent of outside factors.
Labor costs are a moving target at the best of times, and long term adverse weather can present serious challenges to predicting how many salespeople you need on the floor at any one time. Weather can affect employment in a variety of ways. A prolonged cold season can topple predicted fashion sales—and fewer sales mean fewer staff on hand. During warm winters, layoffs are less likely to occur, but that can slow job growth in later months. By using an advanced video capture system to monitor your labor needs against customer demand over time, you will have a much better sense of whether your business will require additional help sooner than expected or whether you need to plan for a temporary shortage of qualified help.
Protecting Physical Property
Unless you live in a hurricane zone or a state that is prone to earthquakes, you may not have a fully cognizant sense of the destructive power of weather. Just this month, some of the most popular retail destinations in downtown Boston have been closed for days, which negatively impacts retail sales as well as future planning. But by implementing an advanced video capture system you can monitor your physical storefront, warehouses and other physical property from any location. It’s better to be prepared and aware of any negative effects that weather may cause for your business and assess risk on a regular basis.