Exploring the power of in-store data and “phygital” store experience

Seeking retail experts to interview for my master’s thesis research.

Have insights to share? Please contact me at: matthew.j.roblin@student.jyu.fi

About my research

Hi there!

My name’s Matthew, a master’s student in digital marketing and corporate communication, minors in strategy & experience design from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. My stream of qualitative research looks to explore in-store behavior analytics, shopper marketing, and connected store experience.

eCommerce retailers know almost everything about what their customers do online. However, the same cannot be said for the offline world. Retailers have plenty of buyer and consumer data, but in-store shopper data is more or less a black hole, yet the physical retail environment is like a live laboratory rich with information and opportunity for experimentation. In such a challenging and dynamic marketplace, what are brands, shopper marketers, and physical retailers doing to explore behavior and the relationship between environment and consumer, products and service, driven by an omnichannel world?

I would like to address the dramatic shift in shopper behavior, technology, and the resulting disruption of traditional retail strategies to define the next generation of shopper strategy and physical retail at large. Sound interesting?

How do you represent retail activation in such an omnichannel world?

What is the aim of the study?

The aim of the study is to explore how digital solutions can be used to analyse in-store shopper behavior and its implications on shopper marketing and connected store experience. For example, with in-store shopper behavior data/insights, retailers can optimize their store layouts to increase sales, brands and shopper marketers can improve path-to-purchase, along with omnichannel strategy, while in turn shoppers can be delivered a more personal and more remarkable retail experience.

Ultimately, this research uncovers the holistic relationship between environment and consumer, tied with products and services, bridging the gap between offline and online retailing. This research will be done in part by including three study populations – digital & shopper solution providers, physical retailers, and brands/shopper marketers who may utilize various technologies to create a connected store experience and or to understand in-store behavior.

Topic areas that will be covered

The research stream of my thesis is rather holistic and varies from topics related to shopper behavior & insights to shopper marketing, omnichannel strategy, digital solutions, to what the future of retail experience might hold. The interviews will be semi-structured and are based on what you feel you would like to share and what you have expertise most on.

Here are some example questions and topic areas that I cover:


  • Why do we shop
  • Retail disruption – related to changes in shopper behavior and physical retailers and brands. How will the shopping experience evolve?
  • Technological trends and changes in shopping and physical retail, how it’s shaping the experience (Example: including how mobile has changed in-store shopper behavior, e.g the phenomenon of showrooming, or the “halo effect” and sales across channels)
  • Describing “connected” store experience or in other words “phygital” (physical+digital).
  • Exploring the relationship between physical retail environment and consumer.
  • Advances in in-store behavior analytics (e.g describing tools, approaches, methodologies to capture shopper behavior – manual observation vs digital solutions). I look at solution providers on the market that offer platforms to track and analyze in-store behavior in physical retail venues.
  • Looking at shopper behavior parallels between offline and online (this could include metrics).
  • How understanding in-store insights can be used to improve things such as store layout, in-store shopper journey, footfall patterns, and implications on shopper marketing (e.g including path to purchase, omnichannel strategy, in-store marketing, etc)
  • Key differences between consumer and shopper (or differences between consumer data, shopper data, buyer data) and why in-store data is so important.
  • How in-store conversions can be measured and optimized, including areas of the store, zone category, at shelf level, displays and endcaps, etc.
  • Exploring choice architecture – e.g are shoppers’ choices predictable?
  • What drives shoppers to choose a particular brand in-store?
  • Are there consistent behaviors among shoppers?
  • Successful campaigns or examples that have been done, based on in-store insights gained to improve shopper marketing (for physical retailer or brand).
Do you have an abstract example?

Yes. However, this example below will not be not the official one used in my thesis.

Understanding shopper behavior in brick-and-mortar stores and other physical venues is essential for any retailer and business aiming to provide a more personal and compelling shopping experience, optimize store layout, in-store marketing, and improve store operations. Achieving these goals ultimately leads to increased footfall traffic, improved user experience, conversion rates, and increased revenue.

Before shopper marketing strategies can be put in place, understanding what goes on inside the store, between consumer and environment is fundamental. While many physical retailers still rely on manual methods to analyze in-store shopper insights, advances in in-store behavior analytics from various technologies now benefit retailers and enterprises to gain important and measurable data into customer behavior patterns and understand, for example, how much time customers spend in different areas of the store, what routes they take, engagement with displays, and how well they are serviced, and more. Similar to how visual web analytics can be used to analyze user behavior on a website and used to provide better marketing and personalization to customers at scale. Could the same apply offline?

By applying similar principles from the online world, this approach could be considered as “active retailing” where retailers can put products in the path of the shopper (offline and online) based on relevant insights gained.

What is your research methodology?

The methodology for this thesis uses in-depth qualitative interviews. The interviews are semi-structured where open discussion is encouraged, the set of questions are divided into four sections by the theme of (1) retail experience (2) shopper behavior (3) technology (4) marketing.

Note: it is appreciated if at least one of these areas can be discussed.

Who are the interview participants involved?

Though not limited to, I am looking to interview a collective of the following: digital & shopper solution providers, physical retailers, shopper marketers, and brand owners. This may include creative agencies, consultants, and retail experts.

In total, I am looking to personally interview 8-10 research participants individually.

Will the interview and data collected be kept anonymous?

Yes. All data collected is kept confidential and anonymous, unless the participant otherwise agrees for certain information to be disclosed. I will send by email both an official notice of the research as well as an official privacy notice to the research participants after they agree to the interview. The notices will contain further information. 

How can I help?

While this is a qualitative master’s level research thesis, you would not only be helping me out as a young professional to go further in the field, both academically and professionally but also supporting a fascinating and novel thesis research study. I am learning as I go!

To respect your time, the interview will be kept as short as possible and your contribution and knowledge sharing is greatly appreciated and valued.

I welcome you to join a casual yet semi-formal interview video call with me to discuss how you represent retail activation.

Just let me know a suitable date that works for you and we can set up a call! The video call can be held in a flexible manner and whichever platform suits best e.g Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, etc.

Interested? Have some insights you’d like to share? Let’s connect!

If you would like to know more about me, please visit mattroblin.com, connect with me via Linkedin, and or check out my university’s programme web page here: https://www.jyu.fi/jsbe/en/study/masters-programmes/dmcc

Let’s share some knowledge together!

Do you have insights to share?

Please contact me if you’re interested and would like to be interviewed. If you have any other questions, please write me at matthew.j.roblin@student.jyu.fi