So you’ve decided to take the plunge into customer counting! There are many options to choose from, so take a deep breath and don’t get overwhelmed. Customer counters count the people who enter and exit your store. They can also be used in municipal buildings, libraries and universities.
People counting software can enhance your results by adding in variables that are expected to impact the days’ counts such as sales transactions, special events, weather conditions, extended hours and promotions. All of this data can be combined and analyzed to help business owners make decisions regarding staffing, marketing, advertising and placement of merchandise.
Ask yourself the following questions before choosing the customer counter that best fits your needs:
- What does my store’s entrance look like?
- How wide is the entrance?
- Do I want daily traffic counts or shorter intervals?
- Can shoppers browse in the entryway?
- Is there a power source in the entrance of my store?
Horizontal customer counters are best suited for less busy entrances. Of all the counters available, horizontal sensors are the least expensive, but they are also less accurate. The sensors are installed on both sides of a doorway, so people who cross the counter’s beam in a crowd will be blocked from the sensor’s view. For example, if ten people walk through the door, the system may only count eight people. If your entrance is a high-traffic area, a horizontal counter will need to be used in combination with some additional metrics to compensate for the margin of error.
The wider your store’s entrance is, the more space there is for crowds. More crowds means less accuracy, so the horizontal counter is only recommended for entrances up to 15 feet wide—and only if you don’t have a high-density entryway. Additionally, a horizontal counter will require the door only swing one way—out—because a door that swings in will block the beam.
A directional counter will count people as they enter and leave the store. Customer counters will tell you how many people have entered the store and how long they stay. Bi-directional sensors can provide hourly customer counts and can help you gauge a customer’s intentions. Are they just passing through? Did they come with a list or are they in the mood to browse? Directional counters can not only reveal what time people are coming to the store and what days are the busiest, but also what shoppers’ habits are when they come to the store.
Overhead counters are the most accurate type of customer counter. They are usually installed in the ceiling and look down at the people walking through the entrance, so no one can be blocked from the sensor’s view. Stores with merchandise in the entryway will likely want an overhead counter that can monitor everyone who comes in and out without issue. These types of sensors often require a power source for operation. Before getting started, make sure you have power and a wireless connection available if you will be using thermal or recording options.
Customer counters can greatly increase an owner’s understanding of his/her customer base. However, accuracy greatly depends on the type of counter selected. Don’t ignore the setup of your store, and don’t automatically go for the cheapest or most expensive option. With the right customer counter, you can make better staffing, marketing, and advertising decisions.