When to Choose an Overhead People Counter vs. a Horizontal People Counter

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  2. 2015

In today’s retail environment, information is power. People counting technologies can offer significant, actionable data about customer traffic and behavior in your store. However, with a range of solutions available on the market, how can you determine if overhead or horizontal people counters are the right fit for your retail business?

Horizontal people counters are the most affordable solution available and provide a great way for retailers to get started with these kinds of technologies. They come in wired and wireless infrared sensor options, are mounted in your store’s doorway, and count incoming shoppers as they “interrupt” the sensor beam upon crossing the store threshold. Horizontal people counters are a good fit for small retail businesses because they:

  • Work best in stores with smaller entrances. Multiple people may enter a store with a large doorway at one time. When this happens, the horizontal people counter may only count three people when six shoppers actually entered.
  • Offer solid basic data on overall store foot traffic. Horizontal people counters are limited in that they monitor people entering your store but cannot provide insights into where shoppers go during their store visit.
  • Require the lowest financial investment. Horizontal people counters are a cost-effective solution for budget-minded small retailers.
  • Reveal which times of day and which days of the week generate the greatest foot traffic. Equipped with this information, smaller businesses can adjust their staffing levels accordingly to ensure they have the right personnel on hand to convert browsers into buyers.

Overhead people counters are a step up from horizontal people counters in terms of the breadth of information and insights they can yield and may be an ideal solution for retailers looking to elevate their business strategies. Some overhead systems leverage thermal sensors while others rely on video. Thermal people counters:

  • Leverage body heat to track shopper movements into and around your store
  • Work well in buildings with wide entrances in which multiple shoppers may be entering simultaneously
  • Offer 95% accuracy or greater
  • Function well in direct sunlight as well as in poor lighting, unlike video people counter systems.

Video-based overhead people counters leverage multiple sensors mounted throughout the store ceiling and require the greatest investment but offer the deepest data. These counters:

  • Can improve the count accuracy by differentiating between adults, children, and service animals, as well as filtering out objects such as strollers and carts, especially in large-format stores with a high volume of shoppers.
  • Reveal where shoppers go when they enter your store. Are shoppers clustered in only a few departments and bypassing others altogether? With this knowledge, retailers can adjust their merchandising strategies accordingly to generate greater traffic in underutilized store areas or shift promotional displays to areas where people are already going.
  • Provide concrete insights on A/B testing. If your store wants to experiment with new display layouts, video-based people counters can capture how shoppers respond to display A versus display B.
  • Offer secure remote access and data storage. Store management can access data from video-based overhead people counters via Web-connected devices.
  • Enhance loss prevention activities. Video-based overhead people counters can help to reveal different types of retail loss, from shoplifting to employee theft and returns fraud.
  • Require greater IT installation and integration time. Consider whether your store has the resources to properly implement and utilize a video-based system.

Overhead people counters offer significant ROI for retailers seeking a robust technology solution to their traffic-counting needs, though some may find that a combination of overhead and horizontal counters provides the greatest benefit and insights for their particular budget. Selecting the right people counting solution is the first step toward higher conversion rates, growing sales, and creating effective marketing programs.

4 Benefits of Holiday People Counting

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  2. 2015

There are many benefits to holiday people counting. In your retail location, people counting can help you determine when and where you see the most foot traffic in your store. When you know where people are likely to be, you can determine where additional or fewer employees may be needed.

Below, we have listed four specific ways people counting can help your retail location.

1- Determine increase in shoppers during the holiday season

You should notice an increase in shoppers around the holidays. Use holiday people counting to roughly determine how many people are in your store in real time and how much of an increase your business sees in foot traffic during this season. To make an accurate comparison, you will need to know how much traffic your store receives normally.

Most retail locations provide promotions specific to the holidays. The traffic from the holiday promotion can be measured for effectiveness by being compared with the traffic your store sees during the holiday season and during the off-season.

2- Which sections of your store get the most traffic?

With holiday people counting, you can determine which areas of your store receive the most traffic. Not only can people counters be placed in entrances, but they work great when placed in specific sections of your store as well—such as electronics or toys—to measure the traffic that flows through those areas. The area of the store with the most traffic may be the obvious choice, such as the aforementioned toys or electronics, but it may also be an area you might not have expected. Place the people counters in different sections to determine the traffic that passes through that area. You won’t know where most of your customers are unless you properly track the traffic flow.

Don’t forget to take location into consideration when holiday people counting. If traffic flow is missing certain sections of your store, it may be time to consider this area for a promotional display. When using holiday people counting to know where your store sees the most traffic, you can determine where extra employees should be staffed to ensure every customer is helped. When a customer fails to receive help, they may look to one of your competitors for their holiday retail needs.

A great trick is to place popular retail items closer to the back of the store, ensuring that the customers have to walk past other retail offerings on their way to get the item they are looking for.

3- Determine approximately how much of your holiday traffic converts to sales

Holiday people counting can help you find an approximate number of store visitors that convert to sales by measuring the number of people entering your store and tracking sales transactions that directly correspond with that number. It’s also a great way to determine the ROI of your promotions. If you have high traffic in your store but a low conversion rate, that’s your cue to try and find where the problems may lie. The problem could be that training needs to be increased or possibly that more staff needs to be on the floor.

4- Plan for future holiday events and promotions

Determine whether your store can handle a high volume of shoppers while finding trends that may occur at certain times of the year with holiday people counting. Maybe your store had a regular flow of customers at the beginning of December that went down by the time that January rolled around; holiday people counting can help you determine this.

Use traffic trends to determine how many visitors your store may get during next year’s holiday season. When you have enough historical data, you can even determine when and where holiday promotions work best, where to place popular items, and when to expect the most foot traffic in your store. You can also determine what entrances customers are more likely to use and what dates and times to staff for peak customer volume.

It’s a great idea to conduct holiday people counting for your retail business. The traffic counts can help you determine when and where your store receives the most foot traffic. You can even determine promotional effectiveness by tracking how many people move through the section displaying the promoted item. Prepare for this holiday season and future holiday retail traffic by using holiday people counting in your store!

3 Ways People Counters Help Determine the Effectiveness of In-Store Promotions

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shoppers

Promotional displays and other in-store promotions are a visually and logistically-effective way to sell products. They grab the customer’s attention, are set up in locations convenient to the customer, and sometimes offer a discount on the product being displayed. People counters can help test the effectiveness of these displays and sales promotions in several ways. Here are three ways they are useful for in-store promotions.

1. Discover the most effective display location in your store.

Determining the best location for a promotional display requires an attention to which areas of the store see the heaviest foot traffic. Set up displays in several locations and use people counting technology to gauge how many people walk by the display. In this way, you will be able to determine which locations receive the most traffic and potentially produce the most sales. Location and visibility are the most important factors for in-store displays, and the data people counters provide can take the guesswork out of figuring out the prime location for a display.

2. Determine the most compelling display layout.

If you’ve picked out your display location, but are torn between two different display designs or layouts, people counters will come in handy once again. For example, you can set up one display design—let’s call it Display A—and measure the people counting data for a set period of days, then switch it up to the second display design—let’s call it Display B—and collect the people counting data for that arrangement. Comparing Display A’s data with Display B’s data will allow you to see which promotional display design is the most effective.

Keep in mind, A/B testing like this must be done with control over other factors. For instance, if you are testing a Display A for three days, you must test Display B on the same three days of the week. This is due to the fact that your sales may be higher or lower on other days of the week. You should also take into consideration weather patterns during the days you are testing, as well as bank or national holidays. Also, beware of testing on weeks leading up to certain holidays.   Foot traffic could vary due to any of these factors.

3. Determine sales conversion rates of promoted products.

By comparing date and time-stamped POS data to date and time-stamped people counting data, you can determine how many customers made promotional purchases. Using this information, you can calculate the sales conversion rates of your promotional items.

If you’re looking to improve the effectiveness of your promotional displays and ensure that you get the best possible ROI out of each promotion, people counting data could answer your questions. Ultimately, the data collected with people counters will allow you to make better business decisions regarding your promotions and will help you determine the ROI of each display.

Why Retailers Should Be Using Bi-Directional People Counters

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  2. 2015

Why Retailers Should Be Using Bi-Directional People Counters

What is a Bi-directional people counter?

Bi-directional people counters differentiate between when someone is entering and when someone is exiting an area. Other people counters can only count how many times someone passes through a doorway, which can potentially skew your results.

Glean accurate sales conversion rate data.

Bi-directional people counters allow you to track how many people are entering or exiting your store, or an area of your store, at any given time of day, which you can then compare to sales data. You can use this comparison to calculate a sales conversion rate, which allows you to make better business decisions based on the data.

Keep track of how many people flow through your store throughout the day.

Bi-directional people counters can keep track of how many people move in and out of the store at any given time. With omnidirectional counters, you wouldn’t be able to tell how many of the counts are entrances and how many are exits; you could have 100 people walk in before any of them exit and you would be left to guess whether this was the case or whether 50 people entered and then exited. This can work very well for some establishments, but not so well for others. Other stores might be better suited for bi-directional counters that can pick up on these details, allowing you to get more accurate, real-time store traffic data.

Ensure staff is deployed as effectively as possible.

For larger retail stores that have multiple departments, bi-directional people counters are a must. Placing them in the entranceways to each department will allow you to track how many customers flow in and out of different departments at certain times. Knowing which days and which times of day traffic are highest in certain departments will allow you to staff these departments appropriately. Without bi-directional people counters, you may not be able to differentiate between people entering versus people exiting in department areas and this could potentially lead to over or understaffing.

Accurately evaluate marketing success.

Measuring the success of large-scale and smaller-scale marketing campaigns comes down to the strategic implementation of bi-directional people counters. The success of storewide or department-specific promotions can be measured with the counters to see how much foot traffic the store or an area of the store receives. This will allow you to calculate sales conversion rates. You can use this marketing data to compare your campaign’s success to previous marketing campaigns your store has conducted, as well as to marketing campaigns’ success at other stores in your chain, and to the success of competitors’ campaigns. Basic business metrics such as CPM (cost per thousand), the cost of reaching one thousand people or households, can be calculated from this data as well as sales per square foot.

Ultimately, knowing and understanding your traffic periods, including highs, lows, and everything in between, will allow you to optimize your business for success.

Three Places You Absolutely Need a Wireless People Counter

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  2. 2015

Green ChecklistHardwiring a new people counter into your establishment is not always a feasible option. Fortunately, there are wireless people counter options available that provide the same basic benefits as wired people counters.  What’s more, wireless people counters are energy-efficient, which keeps your electricity bill down, and they can be installed easily and almost anywhere without you having to worry about outlets or power sources being nearby. Here are three places you absolutely need a wireless people counter.

1. Small Libraries

Libraries often rely on funding to keep operations flowing, and this boils down to being able to prove your library is a well-utilized community resource. People counters can provide you with an accurate number of visitors per day, which can be used when presenting your case for why your library needs funding. For libraries that have a tighter budget to work with, wireless people counters are ideal because not only do they keep electricity bills low, they are vital to helping libraries make better cases for funding. Additionally, for whatever reason, the library layout just may not be conducive to a wired counting system and when this happens, a wireless counter really is the only way to go.

2. Visitor Centers

To accurately monitor traffic in visitor centers, multiple people counters should be used. Visitor centers often have several different key “destination” areas that people can visit. In order to determine traffic flow through your center for promotional or other reasons, it’s essential to have a people counter placed in each “destination” area to determine how many people walk through the area on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s not possible to install a wired counter in every area because, for whatever reason, it’s just not technically feasible. For this reason, wireless people counters are a must.

Additionally, visitor centers also run on funding like libraries do. Installing overhead, wired people counters could cause your visitor center to close for construction. However, accurate, bidirectional, wireless people counters can be installed quickly and easily, generating accurate numbers on how often your visitor center is used when applying for funding.

3. Small Niche Shops

When running a business that targets a niche audience, business is not expected to be booming. For this reason, keeping your store hours centered on times when business is highest is important when you are on a small budget. Wireless people counters will track the times of day you receive the most business, allowing you to center your store hours on these times. This will save on labor costs by preventing overstaffing when there is little or no business, as well as understaffing during hours when you are swamped.

Wireless people counters are lightweight, versatile, accurate, and ideal for environments or facilities where installing wired people counters are not an option. Additionally, they are also easy to install and can make or break an establishment that relies on outside funding. Utilizing a wireless people counter correctly answers a lot of questions about how much traffic your business is seeing and what time of day it is occurring, in turn allowing you to make better business decisions and optimize your business for success.

Four Reasons Why People Counting is Critical for Visitor Centers

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  2. 2015

people countingThe operational aspects of the visitor centers at parks and historic sites are easy to take for granted. But first impressions are as important for places as they are for people, and the welcome provided by a well-run visitor center can set the tone for people’s enjoyment of a site and its attractions.

People counting technology can be a valuable tool for improving those operations, providing insights into how best to schedule and allocate staff as well as which exhibits are drawing interest and attention. Perhaps most important, people counters provide the hard data required to justify funding requests, whether for ongoing expenses or in support of a facility renovation or expansion. Even centers operated as part of 501(c)(3) or non-profit organizations need the solid information that any for-profit retail or hospitality business routinely uses.

At a minimum, visitor centers should place people counting sensors at entrances and exits. The time-stamped data produced by these systems is more accurate (and less labor-intensive to obtain) than using staff to conduct manual counts. In addition, visitor centers get valuable information about what times of day, days of the week, and seasons of the year attract the most people.

This data can help determine if it makes sense to expand (or contract) the center’s operating hours, and can also help to optimize labor, ensuring the center is fully staffed at its busiest times but not overstaffed at quieter times.

Investing in people counting technology placed in key locations throughout a visitor center provides even richer insights. Measuring foot traffic can determine which exhibits are successful at drawing people to them. Operators can figure out what works and what doesn’t, try new approaches, and then test the success of their efforts.

By determining traffic flows throughout a center, people counters also reveal how the center’s physical layout affects usage. Does the design pull visitors through the entire center, or are only a few areas popular? Under-used space is not only a waste in itself, but it can also negatively affect future funding requests.

Once people counters determine how people actually use the center, operators can figure out ways to maximize their assets. Are features that are attractive to children easily identified in brochures, maps, and signage? Is information available in the major languages spoken by visitors? Are staff trained to communicate all the features of the center? Addressing these issues will help solve the challenge, but operators won’t even be aware of the scope of the problem until they have hard data in hand.

The analytic insights provided by people counters has become essential to the detailed reporting that now needs to accompany funding requests. When solid information about overall visitor totals can be supplemented with breakdowns by day, week, month, and season, those making financial decisions will be impressed with the level of detail that’s provided.

In addition, data from traffic patterns within a visitor center, such as that showing the impact of redesigned exhibits or clearer signage, demonstrate that operators are responsive to the needs of their guests and understand the center’s mission. Using quantifiable information as the basis for a success story is a powerful proof of the impact of money well spent.

Reduce Queues with People Counting Technology

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  2. 2015

businessman's hand & steel grocery cart full of money stacks - iThe ability to collect and analyze information about your in-store performance is invaluable. Determining the effectiveness of layouts, promotions displays, and your checkout queue can be difficult to capture. Sure, it’s possible to glean sales information from your point of sale system, but it can’t tell you a true conversion rate. How many people entered your store’s queue but left without making a purchase? Are sales down but foot traffic the same? What changed?

The answer to all these questions can be determined with people counting technology.

Step 1: Place People Counting Technology in Queue Entrances.

People counting technology can give you the missing piece of information when you’re analyzing your conversion rate. Placing it at key areas can allow you to assess specific aspects of your store. By placing people counting technology at the entrance to your queue, you’ll be able to see exactly how many people have entered your line with the intention to make a purchase.

Step 2: Combine Data with Sales Data from POS System.

Your point of sales system will be able to provide the other half of the equation—sales data. You’ll be able to determine how many people made a purchase for a given amount of time. Make sure that this time period is consistent with the length of time that your people counting technology has been capturing your queue traffic.

Step 3: Evaluate if you are Losing Business in the Queue.

If you are finding that your people counting technology is capturing more footfall than your POS system is capturing sales, you have a problem with your queue. This information can provide you with a baseline for how your queue is performing. Are lines excessively long? Are they dwindling before customers reach the checkout? As you begin making adjustments to your checkout line, you’ll now be able to compare the conversion rate to that of the original baseline to see if you are improving or not.

Step 4: Brainstorm Solutions to Solve the Problem.

There could potentially be a number of problems that are resulting in your lower-than-expected conversion rate at the queue. Do you have adequate staff to move customers through the line quickly? Using people counting technology in the entrances to your store can provide you with information on how many people are entering your store. If there appears to be high traffic with minimal staffing, you may want to consider optimizing your staffing levels. You’ll then be able to see how increasing the number of customer service representatives influences the conversion rate through your queue.

Maybe you need promotional or engaging signage throughout the line to keep customers interested. You can then measure if these promotions encourage people to complete their transaction.

You may not realize that your store has an issue with its queue until the appropriate data can be collected from people counting technology and then compared with your sales data. Operating in blissful ignorance is no way to run a successful store. Customers who enter your queue are interested in your product and want to make a purchase. Don’t let them slip away because you didn’t realize your queue was under performing.

How People Counting Aids Facility Management

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people countingManaging your facility’s operations shouldn’t be a guessing game. If you’re running your business like a game of chance, you may want to consider the many benefits of implementing people counting systems. The hard data provided by these devices can be the foundation for a myriad of business decisions.

Monitor Supplies

To run your business most effectively, you need the ability to forecast expenses. While you might be able to use sales history to predict future inventory needs, have you considered the cost for stocking other facility supplies? How much will you need to spend on toilet paper, soap and paper towels? It can be a hard number to pull out of the air, but with people counting systems, you’ll know how many people are using your facilities on a daily basis and gain insight on how much you need to budget for supplies to accommodate the demand.

Gauge Security Needs

Theft and vandalism can quickly eat into your bottom line, so having the right amount of security and staff on hand can prevent those unexpected expenses. With people counting systems, you’ll be able to identify how many people are entering and in what areas they are congregating. This data can help you determine the best security-to-patron ratio and place security in the optimal location.

Understand Maintenance Issues

Maintenance is unavoidable in order to provide a safe environment for anyone who enters your facility. The last thing you want to do is interrupt your daily operations for routine maintenance issues, though. People counting systems can help you understand the ebb and flow of the building, so you can conduct maintenance during slow periods, minimizing disruptions.

Understanding the average capacity or building traffic can give you the justification you need for expansion. The hard data can be used to plan funding and space requirements.

Allocate Resources

Placing people counters at the entrances to conference rooms, offices, or rest areas provides a clear view of how your resources are being used. You’ll be able to identify what spaces are being underutilized or areas that are over-flowing with people. This knowledge can help you schedule the use of spaced in the most optimal way possible.

Reduce Energy Consumption

Green initiatives are growing in popularity, but knowing how to start implementing an eco-friendly plan can be difficult. People counting systems can provide data on areas of the facility that are being used infrequently, but are consuming a lot of energy, whether it’s in the form of lighting or heating and cooling costs. Identifying problem areas can give you the information you need to implement an energy-reducing strategy.

People counting systems are a simple yet effective tool in identifying problems in your facility management. Accessing the data that they provide can empower you to make smarter business decisions—whether you’re in retail, university, or library management. To learn more about the benefits of people counters for facility management, download our free eBook.