The Top 10 Reasons to Use People Counters to Measure Foot Traffic

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group of people - measuring foot trafficThere is a wide range of businesses and organizations including retailers, libraries, casinos and museums that can benefit by using people counters to measure foot traffic at their locations. Analyzing the data provided by strategically placed people counters is a good business decision that will improve your daily operations over time. Knowing your traffic counts not only saves money, but also helps with management planning for various areas of your business.

As a manager or marketer, you may not have considered all the benefits people counting technology can offer. Here are the top 10 ways using people counters to measure foot traffic can optimize and streamline your operations:

  1. Budgeting

Knowing the number of people who access your facility can help you plan your yearly budgets more effectively. Purchases of supplies for office management, marketing material, inventory and cleaning can be better managed once you know the facility usage data provided by your people counter system.

  1. Staffing

When you place people counters in specific areas of your facility, you can identify high and low foot traffic trends and better schedule staff by having the right number of people on hand to provide service where customers tend to dwell.  In addition, labor costs can be reduced when you know how to strategically schedule your staff to meet traffic flows.

  1. Inventory

People counters are a great way to take away the guesswork out of reordering inventory and supplies. The foot traffic data can give you a better idea of when customers enter your facility and the areas they tend to frequent. Knowing this information helps you save money by only restocking supplies that are most popular and in high demand by the consumer.

  1. Security

People counter technology can be used to help identify high-risk areas of your facility where inventory shrinkage or criminal activity is a concern. This information can assist in improved security staff placement at your facility and save money through decreased shrinkage and loss.

  1. Floor Plan Optimization

By placing people counters in various sections of your facility, you can gauge foot traffic data to help determine an optimal layout, which better meets the needs of your customers and increases revenue from increased sales.

  1. Display Placement

People counters can show where most customer foot traffic takes place, and also areas that are not visited frequently in your facility.  The data obtained can help you decide which locations are best suited for your displays that will get the most attention and customer traffic.

  1. Measure Event/Promotion Success

Foot traffic data can help answer questions of why a campaign was or wasn’t successful. Traffic information relating to time of day or month, location within the store, variables in inclement weather all can help you plan more successful promotions in the future.

  1. Funding Requests

If your business success depends on funding from outside sources, having solid traffic data collected from your people counters will help increase your chances of success by showing decision makers proof of performance. Your demonstration of smart planning and positive results will help your future funding needs down the road.

  1. Programming Decisions

People counting technology is crucial in determining return on investment (ROI) for programs, events and exhibits and promotional campaigns. This data can also help you plan for the future and adjust investment budgeting accordingly to reduce overspending and revenue loss.

  1. Facility Maintenance

Foot traffic monitoring can help managers and construction contractors schedule any major maintenance activities during less active traffic periods. This can save your business from lost sales due to the customers’ inability to access your business because of maintenance.

 

4 Ways to Determine Whether In-Store Promotions Are On Point

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  2. 2017

in store promotionsDuring the holiday shopping season, consumers are on the hunt for retail bargains and special in-store promotions to fulfill their shopping goals. In order to meet this challenge, retail stores create special deals or programs to encourage increased traffic to their locations. But implementing an in-store promotion strategy that is both successful and profitable can often be a challenge for business operators. Knowing which product or service to showcase, how much to invest, and what your anticipated return on investment (ROI) should be, is vital to determining success.

Success Starts with a Plan

Lacking a clear objective for an in-store promotion often leads to little or no significant change in the revenue stream. Having a blueprint ahead of time that specifies your goals is the key to ROI and increased foot traffic.

Decide which products are most likely to move during the promotion, perhaps depending on the time of year. New arrivals may be the key to engaging your customers, or maybe they respond better to end-of-season discounts. You may also want to tie the promotion into your loyalty rewards program. Base your decisions on sales data from your point of sale (POS) system, but also on data from your people counter that will show whether foot traffic increased during past promotions.

It’s imperative to monitor results of promotions, measure their success, and make adjustments to future promotions based on this information. Knowing what works and what doesn’t work is crucial to the continued success of your retail business.

Here are four metrics to monitor to make sure your in-store promotions are on point:

  1. Revenue: Measure the financial investment against actual sales around the promotion to help determine ROI. If ROI is there and profit margin is high, then you know the in-store promotion was successful.
  1. Volume: Determine if the amount of inventory moved by the promotion met or exceeded anticipated projections. The more you sell means increased ROI.
  1. People: By using a people counter, you can measure how many people visit your promotional display. If the results show increased foot traffic or dwelling by consumers, you can bet promotional signage and displays caught their attention.
  1. Marketing: Measure the effectiveness of your direct mail, coupons, email marketing or social marketing. The number redemptions or engagements through these efforts will help you determine the best ways to reach your unique customer base.

When you combine and analyze these results, you can determine if your promotion was successful and make adjustments to future tactics to help increase revenue.

These four helpful tips, along with proper planning and clear, attainable goals, will make your in-store promotions successful and even help build customer loyalty that can give you an ROI that continues far beyond the latest “can’t miss” sale.

The War Against Shrinkage and Retail Fraud: 4 Weapons to Put in Your Arsenal

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Man in armor fighting retail fraudDoesn’t it seem like criminals somehow manage to stay ahead of retailers in the fight against shrinkage? Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the problem, shoplifters dream up some new scheme to lift your merchandise. In fact, last year retail shrinkage cost the industry nearly $50 billion.

Shrinkage and retail fraud will always be an uphill battle but there are steps you can take to deter criminals — and employees — from lining their pockets at your expense.

#1 Invest in Training Your Frontline Soldiers: Store Associates

Your first line of defense in the war against retail fraud is one of your most valuable assets: your boots-on-the-ground store associates. There are many ways they can be useful in combating shrinkage, from something as simple as greeting each customer who walks in (so that potential shoplifters know they’ve been personally seen and spoken to) to ensuring you’re adequately and visibly staffed with associates located throughout the store.

Teach your associates to be on the lookout for suspicious or questionable behaviors that can indicate the potential for retail fraud. Does a shopper look nervous? Is one shopper engaging a staffer while another group is clustered elsewhere in the store? Is the person touching a lot of products but not seeming particularly interested? These can all be signs that consumers are up to no good.

Shoplifters continuously evolve their methods so keep your associates up to speed on the scams du jour. Maybe it’s using an umbrella or baby stroller to squirrel away stolen goods or switching price stickers to pay a lower price for a high-ticket item. Whatever the case may be, educated associates stand a better chance of spotting retail fraud if they know what to look for.

And be vocal about informing associates that retail fraud isn’t just a problem with shoppers; it’s an internal issue as well. Set policies for the entire associate workflow so that the same staffer isn’t always taking the trash out, for example (a common way to smuggle stolen merchandise out of the store).

#2 How People Counters Combat Shrinkage

Technology is also your ally is the war on retail fraud. In particular, people counters provide a data-driven look at your high-traffic areas, which can help you single out spots in your store where you should be on the lookout for suspicious activity, beef up your staffing, add video camera surveillance and increase signage warning shoplifters. Did you know that simply including an image of eyes on a “shoplifters beware” sign significantly deters would-be thieves from stealing?

#3 A Right-Sized Returns Policy

In an effort to keep customers happy, some retailers create return policies that please loyal shoppers — but create vulnerabilities with the sticky-fingered set. To prevent retail fraud, require that customers bring receipts along with the products they’re returning to ensure that the amount you’re reimbursing them isn’t greater than what they paid. And set a timeframe for returns so that you’re not burdened with inventory that’s difficult to move.

#4 How POS Reports Protect Against Retail Fraud

Speaking of inventory, here’s where your POS platform also gives you insights into shrinkage. POS reports offer on-demand details about your inventory holdings — and shine the spotlight on potential anomalies. By regularly reviewing your POS reports, you can begin to recognize trends in your stock levels and how they match up to both sales and employee shifts. If a particular associate routinely is logging an unusually high number of coupons or discounts on her shift, it could be a red flag that she’s skimming from the till. At the very least, you’re equipped with hard numbers to investigate further.

With a thoughtful strategy, retail shrinkage can be managed and reduced. By implementing these four tactics, you can stay ahead of both shoplifters and dishonest employees all while protecting your profits.

How Some of the Most Visited Museums Use People Counters to their Advantage

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Most Visited MuseumsWhile some of the country’s most-visited museums might be best known for the dazzling treasures within their four walls, they also have something else in common. In addition to organizing top-notch exhibitions, institutions ranging from New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh all use people-counting technology to yield insights into exhibition performance, facility management and staffing needs.

Eyes on the Experience

You spent countless weeks assembling the exhibition and gathering just the right objects to tell a memorable story. Once the opening-day butterflies have faded away, it’s time to start measuring how the exhibition is faring with visitors. The most-visited museums use traffic-counting systems to monitor the flow of visitors into and throughout the facility, and data on hotspots where crowds gather can yield useful information about the areas attracting audiences and others that are overlooked. People counters also can reveal where visitors begin and end their journey, helpful in understanding how many experience the exhibition in its entirety.

Staging a successful exhibition is a blend of art and science. Data you collect from exhibitions can help you plan well-received efforts in the future and optimize the guest experience throughout the whole event.

Keep Your Building in Tip-Top Shape

The most-visited museums keep their facilities as pristine as their art and artifacts, thanks in part to the strategic use of people-counting systems. There are a number of factors that play into becoming a first-tier cultural institution beyond collections and curators. How often do the floors need to be mopped? Do restrooms need to be refreshed twice daily? What about larger maintenance projects, like structural repairs, window washing and more? Use your people counters to understand the level of traffic your building can endure before maintenance is required. A well-kept facility helps to attract visitors; many museum-goers are drawn to the peaceful, sanctuary-like feel of these cultural spaces.

Safe and Secure

You can always find large crowds thronging to the most-visited museums, and more often than not, it’s an orderly, civilized affair. How do powerhouse museums like Carnegie, Getty and The Met run a tight ship? By leveraging people-counting data to get security staffing levels just right.

It’s important to ensure you’ve deployed enough security personnel not to just to protect your priceless objects but also to keep crowds under control. Are visitors bunching up in one specific area of a special exhibition? Security can help to keep everyone safe by steering museum-goers from one room to another, optimizing visitor flow as much as possible.

People-counting data aids not only with security staffing but also with your workforce management overall. By reviewing your historical traffic data, you can get a feel for the days, weeks and months when you attract the greatest volumes of visitors and times when you can lower costs by scheduling only essential personnel. For example, perhaps you need only half the visitor assistants on a slow Tuesday that you would on a perfect Saturday afternoon. The most-visited museums rely on actionable insights from traffic-counting data to right-size their staff schedules and keep labor costs under control.

The most-visited museums achieve their success not just by acquiring invaluable objects but also by the strategic use of technology both to enhance the visitor experience as well as optimize organizational operations. Take a cue from the leaders in your field and see what people counters can do for you.

Exploit Your Strengths to Drive Store Traffic: 3 Advantages of Brick and Mortar Retail

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The death of retail has been greatly exaggerated.

Red brick in brick and mortar retailerDespite the pervasive notion of a retail apocalypse dominating headlines, research from IHL Group thoroughly debunks the widely reported idea that retail is dying. In fact, the opposite is true: some retailers are ailing but overall, net store openings are outpacing store closings.

That’s because stores still serve the many needs of consumers. Discover how to drive store traffic by leveraging your retail business’s particular strengths.

#1 Instant Gratification: They Need It Now

Fast and free shipping is all fun and games … until consumers need their product now. The woman who on Thursday needs a hot dress for her date Friday isn’t going to wait until the Monday for her LBD to arrive.

Stores still provide the all-important instant gratification (and dopamine high!) that many consumers are seeking, so leverage this desire to boost store traffic. In your marketing messages, remind shoppers that purchasing in store means they get the satisfaction of bringing their items home right away.

And the icing on the cake? They can skip shipping and returns fees, which can add up quickly online. Who likes waiting days or even weeks for the refund on a return to hit their bank account? No one. Drive store traffic by reminding consumers of how shopping in store with you can help their bottom line, and incorporate people-counting technology to ensure your store is staffed appropriately to meet demand at the right times.

#2 In-Person Interaction

Despite all the hand-wringing over digitally native Gen Z and millennial consumers preferring to spend time on their phones versus visiting physical stores, research shows that these shoppers actually favor the brick-and-mortar experience — and being able to talk to store associates is a big factor.

Offering top-notch staff interaction and customer service is a key way retailers can drive store traffic. As competition with e-commerce businesses increase, retailers increasingly are investing in training store associates to be experts — and giving them technology tools such as handheld smartphones phones and tablets to cater to customers’ need for information. And with traffic-counting data insights, retailers can ensure that associates are always on hand to serve customers when they need it most.

Promoting your loyalty program can also boost store traffic as shoppers are rewarded for return trips. That’s a pretty powerful incentive to make a store visit, especially for shoppers who already have an affinity for your brand.

#3 Eliminate the Guesswork: Let Consumers Try Before Buying

Trying before buying is one of those things that shoppers really like about buying in store. Nothing beats feeling a garment, getting an idea of the quality and seeing how that trendy top actually fits her frame before committing to a purchase. We’ve all heard horror stories about expectations vs. reality when shopping online. Maybe the color photographed one way online and looks completely different in the light of day. Remember the ? Is it blue? Is it gold? When shopping in person, there’s no such confusion or uncertainty.

Shopping in store means there are fewer surprises — what you see is what you get — and increased satisfaction. Smart retailers can capitalize on this idea of “foolproof” shopping to drive store traffic and maximize staffing, informed by people-counting data, to drive conversions and capture sales.

As long as stores are serving up the products and experiences that consumers want, shoppers will continue to patronize brick-and-mortar retailers. And as convenient as online shopping may be, nothing drives store traffic like instant gratification, expert-level service and the reassurance of trying products before buying. Keep these differentiators front and center to encourage visits to your store.

Measure the Impact of Social Media Campaigns with People Counting Technology

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  2. 2017

women checking social media on smartphonesSocial media isn’t just a place to post pics of your lunch, or kids, or dog. By this point in 2017, nearly every business out there has a presence on at least one social platform, from Twitter to Snapchat to Instagram to Facebook. The impact of social media on business can translate into real results, drum up interest in your organization and help drive folks through your doors.

After the early days on social media platforms when users were social just for the sake of it, the time of shot-in-the-dark experimentation is over. That’s because there are social analytics tool that can help you to accurately measure the impact of social media on your organization and whether or not it’s driving change.

How Social Media Drives Foot Traffic

Today, social media plays a key role in foot traffic into business locations. From retailers to casinos to libraries, businesses of all kinds have discovered how social media marketing can reach the right customers and encourage them to visit their locations.

One of the easiest approaches? You can offer a coupon or discount to followers only (i.e., a consumer who “likes” your page) through a single social channel (it’s easier to track that way) and that’s redeemable in a physical location only.

Targeting through Facebook is a great example for casinos, especially since both casino visitors and users of the social platform skew older. By targeting user profiles similar your casino’s current customer base, you can offer an incentive to visit your casino and see how customer acquisition grows accordingly.

Engagement: Are Your Social Efforts Paying Off?

Measurement is key to understanding the impact of social media. Once you have a campaign up and running, it’s critical to measure its progress, which can reveal how well it’s working to achieve your desired goals or whether you need to retool your approach.

Most marketers talk about impressions and reach when it comes to social media. Impressions are the number of times your social content is exposed to consumers; that is, how many times overall it shows up in consumers’ feeds, etc. Reach, by contrast, is the total number of people exposed to the content. Note that, for example, your social content might reach 10 people, but if one of those 10 saw it four times, then impressions would total 14.

Here’s Where Traffic Counters Factor In

How can you really measure the impact of social media at your locations? By monitoring foot traffic with people counting technology. With a people counter system installed in your facility, it’s easy to identify trends in traffic trends, cross reference that with your social analytics and observe the results. For example, if you launched a social campaign on Friday encouraging shoppers to redeem a coupon in store on Saturday, then you’d expect a corresponding rise in Saturday footfall. If there isn’t an increase, you may want to tweak your approach in the future. With traffic-counting data, you can verify just how effective your social campaigns truly are.

Over time, you’ll get a feel for which campaigns are successful and which ones don’t encourage visits to physical locations. Capitalize on what works: multiply the impact of social media by creating initiatives similar to what has driven tangible results in the past. This could mean prioritizing certain social channels over others; perhaps Facebook is more effective for reaching your audience than Twitter, or your Generation Z consumer base prefers Snapchat.

While it may be natural to compare the impact of your social media strategies with some of the big players out there, keep in mind that every industry has its own factors at work. Casinos have one set of challenges, retailers another, not to mention the environment libraries and similar institutions are dealing with. Be realistic about the results you can expect.

When coupled with people counting technology, the impact of social media campaigns can be amplified to propel your business forward, reach a new audiences and engage with users in a smart and modern way.

The Link Between Consumer Behavior Analytics and In-Store Operations

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consumer behavior analyticsAre you still guesstimating when it comes to running your retail business?  Increasingly, leading retailers are turning to consumer behavior analytics to take the guess work out of their in-store operations. Here’s why.

Staffing Smarts

Labor scheduling is consistently among a retailer’s daily operational headaches. Schedule too much staff and you’re needlessly assuming extra costs with little to no return or reward. Schedule too few and you may end up with unhappy customers and potentially lost sales due long checkout lines and spotty customer service.

That’s why consumer behavior analytics, including data from traffic counters, can help retailers make data-driven decisions about their staffing needs. Is Monday night your slowest time of the week? Then there’s no need to have six workers on hand when two will suffice. With clear insights into the ebb and flow of customer traffic, you can right-size your staffing needs to align your costs with customer demand.

When Shoppers Are Shopping

Indeed, staffing needs are directly correlated to how much customer demand your store typically gets on any given day, week or month, with holiday seasons typically calling for “all hands on deck.” Without a clear picture of when shoppers are visiting your store, your in-store operations are just a shot in the dark.

Armed with valuable footfall insights from traffic counters and consumer behavior analytics, you can develop strategies to increase traffic. Perhaps it’s a shopping “happy hour” every Wednesday evening, as plus-size fashion retailer Eloquii just launched in its inaugural Washington, D.C.-area store. Shoppers are invited in for a special in-store-only two-hour promotion, accompanied by treats and libations.

The bottom line: consumer behavior analytics can help you identify problem areas but it’s up to you to be creative with the in-store solutions.

Where Shoppers Are Going

Many of the metrics related to consumer behavior analytics in recent years focus on tracking the shopper journey through store. Sensors and sophisticated traffic-counting systems can reveal where the shopper begins and ends her journey, where she dwells — and where she doesn’t.

With details on customer dwell patterns, retailers can get a sense of where their in-store “hotspots” are and merchandise those areas accordingly. Are shoppers flocking to winter coats? Position hats, gloves and other winter accessories in that area, too. Are shoppers ignoring the merchandising display you painstakingly created? Shift it to where your traffic counters tell you that shoppers are naturally going.

If you’re noticing that some aisles are almost always vacant, take a look at that space and see what your customers are seeing. It could be that the selection of merchandise is unappealing or perhaps that aisle tends to be cluttered and messy. Whatever the case, consumer behavior analytics can help you turn around an underperforming area of your store.

How Much Maintenance Is Enough?

Store maintenance costs partially boil down to how much footfall your facility sees. A deep clean and tune-up once monthly in February and March might suffice but you’ll likely need greater attention to detail to keep your store tidy and in presentable shape for the overwhelming holiday crowds. With data and analytics from people counters, you can better determine what your maintenance budget should be.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

Look to your people counters to identify trends in how weather affects footfall, which in turn informs your in-store operations. If you know that tomorrow will bring a nor’-easter, it might be wise to reduce the number of staff who are scheduled to work, and to position your weather-related merchandise near the front entrance. And if you notice that store traffic dips during bad weather, it might be wise to encourage your customers to shop on your website instead.

More than ever, retailers must turn to consumer behavior analytics to elevate their in-store operations. With competition in retail increasing, retailers leveraging data-driven insights are poised to win greater loyalty — and profits.

The Role of Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail’s Future

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a hot topic in retail circles in recent years — but what, exactly is it and what is its place in retail?

A Primer

In essence, the concept of internet of things in retail calls for everything to have an IP (internet protocol) address, which means that all objects can communicate and share data about themselves. One great example: you may have seen the TV commercial for Samsung smart refrigerators, in which a child can add, say, “apples” to the “smart” shopping list on the fridge, which immediately notifies the parent at the grocery store.

It’s this instant, always-on communication potential for internet of things in retail that really excites industry professionals — and holds great potential for transforming operations.

Inventory Automation

While RFID has done great things for improving inventory operations, internet of things in retail could really change the game. With tags on products and sensors right on the shelves, inventory counts — once a time-intensive procedure dreaded by store workers — could be done in a matter of minutes or less. With products continuously reporting their status, retailers can act quickly on any potential issues and make over- or understocking a thing of the past.

Smart Security

With more than 8.4 billion IoT devices in use, retailers must be concerned about the new skillsets required to manage the internet of things in retail, from networks to devices and more. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider just these few impacts:

  • IoT network security: IoT in retail calls for more communications protocols, devices packed with more capabilities — complexities that can create greater potential for vulnerabilities.
  • IoT encryption: IoT networks mean there’s always data at rest and in transit, and retailers will need to secure and encrypt both, preserve data integrity and fight against “data sniffing” by black-hat hackers.
  • IoT security analytics: Artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data will play a significant role in monitoring data and reporting actionable insights on retail IoT devices.

Smart Sensors for Tracking Customer Footfall

Retailers are particularly intrigued by IoT’s potential to improve customer traffic counting. From WiFi tracking to intelligent floor to traditional people-counting systems sensors, IoT in retail can deliver much greater insights into what shoppers are really doing in stores and how better to serve their needs. With real-time data, retailers are empowered to make real-time decisions, especially when WiFi systems and people counters are working together. Marketing display not attracting eyeballs? Dispatch store associates to shift it now, instead of waiting until after hours. Making these tweaks and changes in real time can boost conversion rates and capture greater sales.

Beacons and Marketing

Beacons are probably the best-known IoT retail application. Small, stationary Bluetooth-connected devices, beacons communicate with shoppers’ WiFi-enabled devices and push out messages to customers, from store information to discounts and promotions.

Three quarters of marketers say location-based marketing is important to their business.

As an internet of things in retail application, beacons can take advantage of a shopper’s location to deliver a strategic, custom tailored offer. Hovering near the bathroom cleaning spray? Maybe you’ll get a coupon for a free sponge if you purchase the spray. Smart offers at the precise point of decision can influence shoppers and drive conversion, increase basket size and sales, while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction.

What IoT Means for Supply Chain

In four years, 70 percent of retail companies intend to invest in IoT technologies, and supply chain is a top-of-mind area. Retailers are always striving to improve supply chain visibility and IoT can provide greater insights to reduce stock-outs and right-size assortment and allocation according to customer demand. Retailers again will lean on machine learning and predictive analytics to reduce supply chain constraints and challenges, and improve the customer experience.

We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of what internet of things in retail can do. Retailers are planning significant investments to reap the benefits of IoT and deliver the next-gen experience that customers demand.