The need for e-commerce companies to monitor and track online activity around their websites, apps and marketing campaigns is well understood. Indeed, that’s one of the trump cards online has over offline commerce – it’s easier to track behavior and habits with digital consumers.

But one company is looking to bridge the online/offline divide, serving up analytics to help retailers understand the impact their marketing is having on customer footfall in their brick-and-mortar stores.

Welcome to Walkbase

Founded in 2011, Walkbase is a Finland-based startup and alumnus of Aalto University’s Startup Sauna accelerator program, offers sensor-based technology to stores, so they can monitor consumers via signals transmitted from their mobile phones.

The company provides retailers with small boxes to install which capture signals transmitted from any WiFi-enabled device. In turn, this data is then sent to Walkbase’s cloud-based analytics platform which delivers location-based data to the retailer via an online dashboard.

In terms of how this data can be used, well, it reveals patterns around how customers move within a store, where they stop, how long they stay for, where they return to and more. Walkbase is keen to stress that this data is anonymized and thus ‘non-personal’.

It’s worth noting here that WiFi must be enabled (but not necessarily connected to a network) on a device for it to be trackable – Walkbase doesn’t monitor 3G or any other kind of signal. Also, it’s not just about “super-accurate foot traffic count,” says Walkbase CCO Andris K. Berzins, “but in understanding changes in foot traffic levels over time and between stores, the dwell time and the proportion of returning customers.”

With a slew of customers already in Finland and across Europe, Walkbase is today announcing a new beta product that looks to better bridge the online/offline divide.

Walkbase & Google Universal Analytics

You may remember that Google recently rolled out the public beta of Universal Analytics, to cover more devices, apps and interactions – it’s essentially a new version of Google Analytics to let businesses tailor it to their needs and glean “a more complete vision of the entire marketing funnel.” In short, retailers can now mix online data with their own offline data, such as point-of-sale (POS) transactions.

Walkbase is now integrating with this new Google Analytics incarnation, which will allow its customers to not only measure click-through-rates (CTRs) for online campaigns, but to match that data with physical foot-traffic patterns in stores.

Stores can import the retail analytics data and compare this side-by-side against marketing campaign data from Google Analytics. Comparing the two, as well as historical pre-campaign data, means they can evaluate campaign efficacy and understand how well online activity translates into offline visitors.

“If a campaign is not performing, a retailer could understand if that is because it is not delivering a stream of consumers or whether they are coming and browsing at the store but decide not to buy – the latter being something that can be addressed by improving store operations and customer service,” explains Walkbase CEO, Tuomas Wuoti.

During the beta phase, Google Universal Analytics integration is being offered for free to select Walkbase customers.

To coincide with this news, Walkbase is also announcing it has closed a new seed round of funding, led by two Russian investors – Leonid Volkov, a startup adviser at Yandex, and Leonid Gluzman, founder of NadoVmeste.ru, and who also led KupiKon.ru.

The existing Finnish angel investors are also joined by Jan Blomquist, member of the board of Life, a retail chain for health food in the Nordic region. The seed round figure hasn’t been disclosed.

It’s an interesting space for sure – using consumer technology to track their activity in physical environments. Indeed, London-based Viewsy is another company operating in this realm, and is perhaps proof that while e-commerce is certainly a force to be reckoned with, there’s still life left in the high street.

Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock