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The Near Team

4 mins read

What is In-Store Dwell Time and Why is it Critical for Retailers?

Store Dwell Time

Whether you’re running a business or managing a website, understanding the concept of “dwell time” is crucial to thrive in the competitive consumer landscape. While dwell time can measure how long a consumer stays on a web page, it can also be used to measure the time spent by consumers at any location. In-store dwell time is a key performance indicator (KPI) for many brick-and-mortar stores and helps them evaluate store performance and consumer experience.

For example, a retail chain can understand how long consumers spend at a store, which spots they spend the most time in, and more. This can improve shelf strategy, customer experience, store efficiency, and even sales. 

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What is In-Store Dwell Time?

Dwell time is the total amount of time a consumer spends at a given location or a set of sites. This is usually measured using the time a device has been at the given location. By detecting a device ID within a specific boundary, the dwell time for consumers can be plotted on a map to visualize their journey within and outside the boundary. At Near, this is done in a completely privacy-safe and anonymized way to protect the identity of consumers.

With insights into where consumers spend the most time within the store, retailers can improve their shelf strategy, layout planning or increase sales by strategically placing popular products at a spot where the dwell time is high.

Why Should You Measure Dwell Time?

The amount of time consumers spend within a store is a very important indicator of the quality of customer experience. The better the customer experience, the longer the dwell time, leading to more sales. According to a study by PathIntelligence, there is a positive link between more sales and higher dwell times.

Here are a few reasons why store owners can benefit from measuring and looking to increase in-store dwell time:

1. Improved customer experience: Understanding customer movement patterns and where customers spend the most time in a store or mall can help owners improve experiences with strategically situated rest areas, food and entertainment zones and charge optimal rates from stores on the basis of location in a mall.

2. Better planning and management: The study by Pathfinder indicates that customers do not like spending time in a store during rush hour or when it is very crowded. By studying movement patterns and dwell times, stores can better understand days of the week and time of the day to encourage customers to visit on other days or time of day. For example, store owners can offer special weekday or time of the day discounts and offers to encourage foot traffic then. Store owners and management can also work to reduce congestion during busy days by increasing toilet facilities or introducing token systems to reduce queues at bill counters.

3. Understand shopper behavior: Studying dwell time and movement patterns can also provide insights into shopper behavior. For example, store owners can understand how shoppers react to live events or entertainment zones or compare shopper behavior during weekdays and weekends. Shopping centers can use these insights to provide inputs to store owners, assess the performance of new stores, and more.

4. Increase sales: All of the above factors can provide store owners with important insight into shopper behavior and trends leading to better operational and marketing decision-making. Dwell time can be as important to track as foot traffic as it provides insights into what shoppers do once they visit your store.

Near’s Dwell Time Tracking Methodology

At Near, dwell time is differentiated into two concepts: inner dwell time and outer dwell time. Inner dwell time is the amount of time the device has spent in the store. Outer dwell time is the length of time between the last point before the entry into the retail location and the first recorded point after the exit from the retail location. The actual dwell time clearly lies between the inner and outer dwell times.

Dwell Time

Determining Visits

To be considered a visit, by default, two conditions must be met:

  • There must be at least two records inside the location.
  • The visit must be at least 60 seconds in duration.

Ensuring a visit meets both of the above conditions, it ensures that only an actual visit is being considered and not a drive-by or a stray point close to the location that survived quality screening. And if an in-polygon record is more than 24 hours after the last, it is considered a new visit, rather than a duration greater than a day. And to ensure store staff and employees are not being tracked, visitors who have been at locations for 4+ hours are, by default, eliminated as much as possible from the analysis.

This is done using two methods:

  • If dwell time exceeds 4 hours, the device is considered an employee.
  • If the number of days the device is seen exceeds 20% of the days of the report or 6 (whichever is larger), then the device is considered an employee.

Both of these conditions can be eliminated from the analysis, and the parameters can also be modified from their default values.

With Near’s superior and privacy-safe data on consumer behavior and location intelligence, retailers can answer critical questions to help improve the shopper experience, attract more customers and increase revenue.

Leveraging Dwell Time Insights into Data-Driven Decisions

Optimizing in-store dwell time is a paramount aspect of enhancing the overall shopping experience and driving business success in stores. A longer dwell time allows retailers to foster stronger connections with customers, boost brand loyalty, and increase the likelihood of impulse purchases. Moreover, in-store dwell time also offers valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviors, enabling retailers to make data-driven decisions and refine their strategies. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, focusing on optimizing in-store dwell time will prove to be a strategic investment, facilitating a seamless shopping journey and setting the stage for continued growth and prosperity.

Learn more about dwell time and what a dwell time report looks like here
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