Dwell time chart in DISPL dashboard

Customer dwell time in retail: the silent sales influencer

Explore dwell time in retail: its impact on sales and customer satisfaction, factors affecting it, and strategies for optimizing store experiences.
Sasha Volykhina
Sasha Volykhina
Marketing Manager
November 28, 2023

Why do some shoppers spend hours in a store while others dart in and out? The answer lies in the 'dwell time' concept—a silent indicator of offline retail health and customer engagement. This article delves into how this metric reflects customer satisfaction and directly impacts purchasing behavior. We will explore internal and external factors influencing customer in-store time and provide actionable insights for retailers.

What is dwell-time?

Dwell-time measures the duration customers spend in a store. It's a crucial indicator of store attractiveness and customer engagement. High consumer in-store time often correlates with increased sales opportunities, while low in-store time may indicate underlying issues in the shopping experience.

The significance of dwell-time

All offline retail visitors can be divided into two groups: those who enter the store quickly, choose a product, and leave as soon as possible, and those who walk slowly and leisurely around the store, looking at goods and enjoying exploring new products. Which group brings retailers the most sales? The more time visitors spend in a shop, the more likely they will make spontaneous purchases. Typically, most people find that they have made more purchases than planned when they return home. Hence, measuring this indicator is essential

Factors influencing dwell-time

What factors influence the length of time consumers spend in the shop? They can be divided into two groups: external and internal. External factors relate to the attributes of your shop, while internal factors relate to your target audience and their socio-demographic characteristics, motivations, and values. By examining what affects how long consumers stay in your shop, you can learn how to manage this time and increase sales.

External factors

Design & Color: How visual elements contribute to the shopping experience.

Lighting: The impact of sensory details on customer comfort.

Background Music: Genre, tempo, volume.

Staff Interaction: The role of staff behavior in enhancing customer experience.

Product Interaction Opportunities

Space Organization

Case Study: Example of a Retail Chain

An analysis of a successful retail chain demonstrates the effective use of lighting and music tempo adjustments, leading to a 20% increase in consumer stay in-store.

Variations in Store Atmosphere

Internal factors

Demographic Considerations: Age & Gender: Understanding different preferences across demographic lines.

Customer Motivations: Insights into what drives various customer groups.

Balancing the equation: external meets internal

External factors must be adjusted based on various conditions, such as price segment, industry, location, brand image, and audience. We cannot influence the internal factors, i.e., the audience, but we can rely on them to select the external attributes of the store. Understanding the symbiotic relationship between external store attributes and internal customer characteristics is vital.

How does it work? 

Some people like loud music and strong smells, while others feel anxious about similarly strong stimuli because everyone is different. However, some preferences do unite certain groups of people. For example, older people are more sensitive to simple design in advertising content, while younger people are more sensitive to complex and interactive design. Therefore, knowing your target audience, their gender, and age and analyzing their in-store time and emotions can help create a space where visitors can enjoy spending time.

The limitations of replication

Replicating a famous shop's design color or space structure may achieve a different effect. Firstly, because no specific color pushes people to buy, it depends on many factors. Secondly, you have a diverse, unique audience, even if you are in the same price segment or industry, and you have a completely different brand image. That's why it's crucial to analyze your audience's behavior and learn their patterns and preferences.

How to measure dwell-time?

DISPL's Visitor Insights uses in-store sensors for audience analytics, processing data locally to ensure privacy and legal compliance. The sensors, via AI algorithm, gather over 17 metrics like dwell time, age, gender, and emotions. This processed data feeds into a dashboard with detailed and reliable visitor data, including demographics, dwell time, heat maps, and customer journey maps (CJM). Then, the data can be used for marketing insights, allowing users to filter by time or location and export raw data for external analysis. Equipped with visitor data, retailers can make informed choices about store design, procurement, staffing, and in-store brand promotions.

Simple steps for retailers

Conclusion: the path to retail excellence

Dwell-time is more than a metric; it's a pathway to understanding and enhancing customer experiences. By mastering this, retailers can significantly boost their sales and build a loyal customer base.

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