Shopping has to be all about the experience, whether shoppers want to buy online or in an actual store.

For e-commerce sites, Google Analytics and similar programs can help online retailers tailor a distinctive experience by understanding the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, who their visitors are, and how to drive sales.

Brick-and-mortar retailers also need analytics to help them succeed. And that’s where Israeli startup StoreSmarts says it can help.

StoreSmarts is a small Tel Aviv startup that provides comprehensive in-store analytics and insights into shopper behavior using the Wi-Fi signals from cellphones. The three-year-old company has a growing client list of more than 500 stores in nine countries that already includes Pandora (Brazil, Israel), Polo (Turkey), Totto (Colombia), Permoda (Mexico), Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (Canada), and Armani Exchange (Chile), among others.

The Israeli technology provides data on customer behavior to help shop-owners tweak the shopping experience.

“We provide retailers with data analytics about how their shoppers behave in a store. For example, how long people stay in a store, in which department, whether they’re a new client or a returning client, and how they react to window design. We’re similar to Google Analytics but for the real world,” StoreSmarts cofounder Eyal Ben-Eliyahu tells ISRAEL21c.

“For instance, by using our solution, Pandora was able to monitor an improvement of 15 to 20 percent in storefront conversion when it changed a window display in one of its stores. This led to a change in all stores. It was also able to increase sales by 3% by monitoring walk-by traffic outside one of its stores and adjusting store opening hours accordingly.”

No hardware, lots of information

StoreSmarts is hardly the only company in the physical retail analytics space – RetailNext, Euclid Analytics and Nomi are among its competitors – but it claims to be the fastest-deploying solution on the market and is not dependent on specific hardware.

“One of the most unique things about our technology is that it doesn’t require you to do anything,” Ben -Eliyahu says. The program easily installs on any store’s computer or on an off-the-shelf portable $30 router with no installation expenses.

“Other solutions can cost thousands of dollars for the hardware,” he notes.

StoreSmarts can be installed on a $30 router or on the store’s computer. Photo: courtesy
StoreSmarts can be installed on a $30 router or on the store’s computer. Photo: courtesy

The StoreSmarts team of nine created a sensor technology that tracks Wi-Fi signals from customers’ smartphones and turns them into comprehensive and extremely valuable analytics.

The software and proprietary analysis algorithms give retailers real-time information through a web dashboard and mobile app.

“The answers we provide help retailers of all shapes and sizes drive sales, optimize staff and services, and increase overall efficiency throughout their operation,” says Ben-Eliyahu. “Retailers are going crazy about this technology.”

He emphasizes that StoreSmarts’ software solution is a statistical tool that provides aggregated intelligence on shopper behavior, but cannot track individual shoppers, so there are no privacy issues. It won’t tell a store if you’re a man or woman, your age, or even your dress size.

“We don’t know it’s you; we know it’s a person.”

From Raspberry Pi to startup

Ben-Eliyahu, 25, cofounded StoreSmarts (formerly known as Analoc) with Ilai Fallach, 26, whom he met while studying for the Israeli psychometric college-entrance exam.

Ben-Eliyahu relates that they were playing around with a credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi computer at a friend’s house and programmed it to track Wi-Fi signals of where each friend was in the house at any given time. The idea quickly evolved into a business plan.

StoreSmarts was founded in Tel Aviv in 2013. The nine staff members range in age from 19 to 44.

StoreSmarts cofounders Ilai Fallach, left, and Eyal Ben-Eliyahu. Photo: courtesy
StoreSmarts cofounders Ilai Fallach, left, and Eyal Ben-Eliyahu. Photo: courtesy

Today the venture-backed company – which counts Lev Leviev and Maverick Ventures as investors – is looking to expand its real-time data service to more brick-and-mortar shops around the world and also take on bigger projects like shopping malls and airports.

Sagi Katz, head of business development for StoreSmarts, says that retail chains can use his company’s analytics to rate and compare how their stores are doing around the globe.

“If we’re in a lot of stores around the world, think about the possibilities from a big-data point of view. A chain will be able to benchmark itself to other chains, and we will be able to help them understand where they should be located and where they should open the next store.”

Ben-Eliyahu relates that feedback from users is impressive and he sees in-store analytics as a requirement for any store.

“When we look into the near future, we see this is going to be a commodity in retail. Stores will need to have this data in order to stay competitive,” says Ben-Eliyahu. “We want to be there when it happens.”