Businesses of all sizes encounter hundreds of customers every day. People counting devices effectively keep track of anyone who enters the store. These systems collect vital information you and your staff can use to guide your decision-making, increasing revenue and enhancing your relationship with customers. But, how can a people-counting device help your business or organization? Here are just a few of the ways you can benefit.
4 Ways People Counting Devices Can Enhance Your Operations
People counting devices are used within offices, retail locations and large corporations worldwide. But what benefits do these innovative technologies offer their users? Let’s take a look.
1. Driving Sales
People counting devices allow you to dive deep into how many people enter your store and whether they make a purchase. The resulting number is known as the conversion rate, providing valuable insights into what’s working for your company and what can be improved. Most stores only see a 20% conversion rate on average.
It’s vital to understand aspects like the impact of staff interactions or the configuration of your checkout lines. As a result of using people counting devices, you can achieve a 1% increase in your conversion rate, and even this small change can help your business tremendously.
2. Cutting Costs
Data collection for online sales is quick and cost-effective, with websites effortlessly providing visitor estimations and allowing for instantaneous analysis. Automatic counters operate similarly to online website sale trackers, with hourly and daily customer information offering 95% to 97% accuracy ratings. This hands-free solution utilizes horizontal and overhead sensors to track in-store happenings and allows you to analyze conversion rates in real-time using intuitive software.
Manual counting may save on upfront costs, but you’ll spend more on labor expenses and risk human error in your data collection. Instead of your staff watching the door during even the slowest periods, they can focus on crucial, value-added activities to optimize your business in other areas. In the long run, people counting devices will save on labor costs, optimize your productivity and even reduce risks of theft.
3. Reducing Stress on Staff
Workplace happiness is at an all-time low, with many businesses experiencing staffing shortages nationwide. Half of all workers report their companies being understaffed, and 45% of these understaffed employees say morale is poor where they work. Consequently, employees are more likely to quit, be less productive and display a negative attitude toward fellow staff and customers.
Technology can be used throughout a business to reduce the stress felt by the staff, which is even more valuable in understaffed organizations. While people counting devices eliminate the need for staff to participate in such a monotonous task, they also help everyone stay on the same page. These devices provide information you can use to create clear business objectives and expectations, avoiding any confusion and ensuring your team is working toward the same goal.
4. Improving Visitor Experience
As technology continues to innovate, the techniques businesses use to optimize their services and best satisfy customers’ needs will skyrocket. And the people agree — 90% of customers believe retail technology is key to improving their shopping experience. People counting devices can help businesses enhance the visitor experience by collecting useful data.
Monitoring footpaths, analyzing busier times of day and identifying the most popular areas of your building will allow you to customize your strategy to enhance customer experience. You’ll ensure promotions are in the ideal locations and your best-performing staff are on the floor during high-traffic periods.
Work With Traf-Sys for Your People Counting Devices
People counting devices hold a wealth of untapped potential for your business to grab onto. Our products can help you create an informed strategy and tailor the customer experience to drive sales and save money. When you use our Traf-Sys people counting systems, you can rest assured that your business will live up to its full potential! Contact our team to learn more, or request your free quote today!
The customer experience that you provide in your store is the bedrock of your success as a retailer. People counting solutions can provide valuable insights that reveal opportunities to improve customer service, optimize staffing, and boost your sales.
Customer service is one of the top factors people consider when they decide whether or not to visit your store. The RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report notes that “89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.” A second statistic, from Parature, says that “it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience.”
Across America the traditional mall experience is morphing. Major U.S. mall owner’s like Simon Property Group, Westfield America, and GGP, faced with flagging mall traffic and unused space, are thinking outside of the box to attract shoppers and non-traditional tenants. The attempt to reinvigorate and revive the mall is resulting in a shopping, eating and entertainment mall model for the modern retail era.
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Ready to start boosting your mall traffic? Request a quote for a people counting device today!
5 Ways to Boost Shopping Mall Foot Traffic
If you are looking for ways to boost your mall traffic and get shoppers through your doors, here are five creative ideas that can give your mall foot traffic a renewed boost.
Turn your mall into an entertainment hub
You need an incentive to attract customers into your mall and to spend time there. Consumers want more than a place to eat and shop—they want experiences. To increase mall traffic, dedicate spaces and hold events that offer forms of entertainment. Turn customer apathy into excitement with a variety of venues that entice them to visit your mall and stay longer.
Hold community events
Your current, unused mall space has the advantage of being large enough to serve as an event venue. This opens up opportunities to invite community groups and non-profit organizations to hold events year round and increase foot traffic.
Wi-Fi hot spots
Create a Wi-Fi café or multiple hot spots that promote a quiet haven for the growing work-from-home workforce or constantly connected mall visitor. You could offer snacks and drink choices that can be purchased while they check their email or reply to messages.
Rent space to unconventional tenants
Mall traffic can be increased dramatically by offering empty spaces to non-traditional types of tenants that offer entertainment options rather than retail shopping. How about a laser tag, indoor skate park or trampoline venue for the kids? Fitness centers, consignment shops, and specialty shops can also increase foot traffic.
If entertainment options don’t necessarily work for your property, you may want to consider a mixed-use scenario to increase mall traffic. Many mall complexes around the country have adapted their empty areas to incorporate hotels or apartments, offices or play space. Target the people using those facilities by making them aware of the convenience of shopping nearby.
Measure mall foot traffic
Having a people counting solution in place before initiating these traffic-boosting strategies is important to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. Strategically place people counters in entrance points, parking garages, and entrances to specific venues spaces to track where your visitors are going. Over time, the data collected will help give you an idea of successful mall traffic trends and also areas that need improvement.
Keep in mind that your investment in these solutions will provide a return long-term with increased traffic and an upswing in revenues. The data you collect will help you adapt your vision of mall spaces and choose the most profitable options for your business.
Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPSIS)
One smart way to get shoppers through your doors is to offer customer-friendly services such as “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store” (BOPIS). This smart strategy is the best of both worlds in a sense; it gives shoppers the convenience of purchasing online and the speed of retrieving their purchases at no additional charge and more quickly than waiting for a package in the mail.
What’s more, BOPIS is a retail customer experience that drives additional sales beyond the products your customer purchased online. A Forrester report revealed that 46 percent of shoppers are enticed to spend above and beyond the original BOPIS purchase if they receive a personalized discount or deal when retrieving their purchases in store.
How to Increase Sales with People Counters
One of the biggest challenges for small to medium-sized retail business (SMB) owners is attracting customers to your store. To increase sales, you need to get people in the door, keep them coming back, and inspire them to tell their friends about the great shopping experiences you provide. Tools such as a people counting solution will help you work toward these goals and determine the success of your efforts as well.
Understand Your Business. Consider the things that make you stand out from your competition. Formalize your unique value proposition (UVP) into a statement you can share with your management team and employees. Examine your processes (such as hours of operation, staffing, products, and marketing) as they relate to your UVP and make an honest assessment of your strengths and the areas where you could improve. Looking at these things from your customers’ perspective will help you figure out how to improve the customer experiences you provide.
Know Your Target Audience. Trying to attract “the general public” is too vague and ineffective. Create a detailed profile of your typical customer so you can craft marketing messages that will appeal to those demographics. Compile and update a database of customer information, including addresses, order histories, and loyalty rewards. This data can help you shape personalized email invitations to attract customers. Foot traffic statistics from your people counter will provide insights into peak times for typical buyers and the areas of the store that draw the most attention, to complete your customer profile.
Set Yourself Apart with Outstanding Service. One thing that will always attract customers is exceptional service. People counting solutions can help you deliver great experiences. For example, with foot traffic data, you can ensure adequate staffing during the busiest times of the day, week, month, or year, to avoid lengthy checkout lines. You can also tell which parts of the store are visited most, so you can adequately staff them with associates to assist shoppers with queries or make upselling suggestions. Great service from knowledgeable and attentive employees can lead to customer loyalty.
Keep in Contact. In today’s retail environment, shoppers expect to interact with retailers in stores and online through social media, texts, and email. Make sure your customer engagement strategy includes appealing to them on all channels. Send emails and texts to thank loyal shoppers and offer coupons or information about upcoming sales or other in-store events such as new product demos. Never underestimate the power of social media. Engage with customers who reach out to you or mention you on social media.
Offer Promotions. A common strategy to attract customers is to offer promotions both in stores and online. These could include not only special deals such as “buy one, get one free” but also codes that people can share with friends to earn rewards. To tell whether an in-store campaign is successful, check your people counter to see if foot traffic increases during and after the promotional period.
Start increasing sales at your mall today with a Traf-Sys people counting device. Request a free quote!
Understanding Shopper Counting Can Improve Customer Experience
Giving your shoppers a high-quality and highly enjoyable shopping experience is the key to ensuring that they visit your business again. Shopper counting and understanding how foot traffic moves and flows through your store can help you drastically improve your customers’ experience.
Display Promotions: Using people counters in separate sections of your store allows you to count how many people visit each area per day and, on a larger scale, per week, per month, and per year. This data can very easily help you to identify peak times of the year, month, week, and day for each section of your store.
Create Timed Promotions for Peak Visitor Times: You will also be able to identify which times of the year, month, week, and day your promotions would be the most successful. With your shopper counting data in mind, plan out your promotions ahead of time.
Increase Staffing During Peak Times: It’s easy to predict these peak times and schedule more efficiently when you understand shopper counting. With people counters installed, you will be able to determine the peak times during the week and day during which may need to schedule a few more staff members.
Get Your Retail Traffic Counter From Traf-Sys
Retail traffic counters help keep eyes on nearly every aspect of your retail store. Gathering these analytics can help you make the changes for a better, faster and more pleasant customer experience at your business.
Contact Traf-Sys or request a quote to inquire about our services and how we can measure your mall traffic for a brighter and more successful future.
Most jewelry stores tend to have peak seasons. It’s no surprise that the time between November and January accounts for plenty of jewelry sales, as people purchase gifts for family and friends — in fact, 40% of all engagements happen around the holiday season, too. These peak seasons present a valuable opportunity for retail stores to track customer data, helping inform them of behaviors and practices that can drive sales.
Take a look at how you can measure your jewelry store traffic using a foot traffic counter.
The Benefits of Customer Counting
With foot traffic trackers, you can measure several key indicators to help improve store performance.
First, you can more easily identify the customers’ behaviors. Insight on when and how often a customer comes into the store can help prioritization regarding the store’s organization. Additionally, traffic flow can signal the right amount of staff members you need to schedule, which helps the store provide customers with a high-quality level of service.
Counting traffic can estimate your store’s daily sales. This information can tell you how significant your sales are on a daily basis and whether your employees are going above and beyond to maximize the experience for the customer.
Additionally, you can measure overall conversion rates. Having a count of how many customers come into your store is beneficial, as you can measure that figure against how many of them are making purchases. As a result, you can look at which factors are deterring people from buying your jewelry, such as customer service or pricing. Configuring your store’s layout in certain ways also plays a role in customer behavior.
Here’s a closer look at how you can use customer counting to improve your business in two areas — marketing and staff scheduling:
A retail store traffic counter provides an opportunity to measure and grow marketing efforts. No matter the marketing campaign focus you pursue, you can see how it influences customers. For larger jewelry stores, you can see how effective your marketing is at bringing customers into your store. Alternatively, smaller businesses can measure the impact of digital marketing ad campaigns like those on Facebook.
If you just released new ad campaigns, you can tell whether they were able to reach new customers and gauge their level of success. This information can help you identify whether your store needs to change its marketing efforts to be more successful. A business that sees an influx of customers after releasing a certain ad campaign can better understand what types of advertising their audiences prefers.
Optimize Staff Scheduling
Depending on the location of the store, the current season, and demand for the product, the number of customers entering your store can vary. Using store traffic counters to record the footfall of entrances and exits can ensure you have enough staff members in the store. As a result, overstaffing and understaffing are less of a problem.
Thanks to optimized staff scheduling, you can ensure your customers get the best customer service possible — and that your employees aren’t overwhelmed when the store is filled with customers. It also helps avoid downtime, where workers can feel bored or unproductive during working hours. Therefore, your staff will be just busy enough without feeling overworked.
When customers know that a store has a dedicated staff ready to answer their questions, they’re more likely to return. Prioritizing staff scheduling ultimately creates customer loyalty. That’s a significant benefit, as customer retention is incredibly important for your store’s profit and growth. It makes more financial sense to retain the customers you already have than spend money trying to attract new ones, and foot traffic data helps with that.
How This Data Can Increase Jewelry Store Sales and Conversions
To boost sales and conversions, your customer experience, customer service and marketing efforts all need to be effective. Through tracking the customers who come into your store, you can grow in these areas.
By being able to track the customer’s gender, age, past purchases and interests, you gain more insight into how to make their shopping experience meet all of their expectations. If your customers are satisfied with their experience, they’re likely to return and make more purchases in the future. Additionally, they’ll often engage in word-of-mouth marketing to spread the word about your business.
Counting store traffic in a jewelry store helps correct employee scheduling, which becomes beneficial for building relationships with customers during their customer journey. If there aren’t enough employees during peak times, you can’t create more personalized shopping experiences, build customer relationships or make enough sales. When you schedule the right amount of employees, customers have a one-on-one shopping experience, allowing sales employees to maximize conversions.
Using foot traffic counters also helps optimize store layout. For example, you can measure the effectiveness of highlighting pieces of jewelry that are on sale or are new in the store. Certain signs or display cases can focus on urging customers to check out the pieces and encourage them to make a purchase. Using heatmap data of the store can show which areas of the store customers visit most and which ones you could improve.
If customers are coming into your store and not making any purchases, further testing on the store layout can happen to see if there are areas to improve the shopping experience. As a result, you have a chance to design the perfect store layout that encourages customers to browse all of your products and make a purchase. A confusing, staggered store layout can prevent customers from even entering the store. Therefore, prioritizing an accessible, streamlined layout is crucial for sales.
Work With Traf-Sys to Measure Your Jewelry Store Traffic
For your jewelry business to maximize sales and conversions and get the right insight on areas of improvement, using a people counting system is essential. Traf-Sys provides accurate and reliable people counters for more than 17,000 locations. No matter the size of your jewelry business, we offer foot traffic solutions to benefit your store.
To start measuring the performance of your business, request a quote today!
If you own or manage a retail store, you probably already know that your store’s interior design and layout directly impact your customers’ purchases. For example, strategically placing products in some regions of the store can keep shoppers in the store longer, increasing their chance of finding more products to buy. Ultimately, optimizing your retail space is important because you can influence buyer behavior.
This article highlights how you can improve retail space optimization with people counters in your store. Whether you’re looking for solutions for boutique or shopping mall space optimization, read the following suggestions for the best ways to improve the interior of your retail space.
Common Store Layout Strategies
Optimizing store layout involves aspects like designing your floor space and strategically placing your products in your store to positively influence a customer’s behavior. It turns out that design is the biggest environmental factor that impacts a customer’s approach to your store. Alternatively, an important aspect that can influence store layout is customer flow — the pattern in which customers move around your store. Combining an understanding of these aspects allows you to create a strategy for your store that helps you become more profitable.
Most stores generally use one of four layouts:
Grid: Most commonly used in grocery stores, a grid layout arranges shelves in long rows, guiding customers up and down each aisle. This layout is successful because store owners can place commonly-shopped-for items in the back of the store. This technique makes shoppers looking for necessities walk down one or more aisles, creating a higher chance they’ll see — and buy — something else they might have wanted or forgot they needed.
Loop: The loop layout is exactly what it sounds like — one central aisle that loops around the entire store like a racetrack, leading the customer back to the entrance.
Spine: With a spine floor plan, your store has one central aisle that flows from the front of the store to the back of the store, with branches breaking out into various departments.
Free-flowing: The free-flowing layout features merchandise, displays and fixtures grouped together to make up a seemingly random layout. Popular among small businesses, this floor plan emphasizes open space and allows customers to wander around the store and find items that pique their interest.
Understanding how the layout of your products and the way your customers flow through your store is key to turning a profit. Choose a layout that will make sense for your store and will show your customers you had them in mind when designing it.
What’s the Decompression Zone?
The decompression zone of your store is the first few feet inside the door, where customers adjust to their surroundings and prepare for what your store may have to offer. Creating an effective decompression zone is essential because customers may leave if they feel overwhelmed as soon as they enter your store.
Here are a few tips to make the entrance of your store feel welcoming:
Open, clutter-free space: Keeping your decompression zone clutter-free provides a vast space for customers to enter your store. Also, note that keeping this space open will help the traffic flow coming in and out of the store if you only have one entrance and exit.
Featured products: Displaying products you want customers to buy around the decompression zone can impact sales. Of course, you should keep the displays tasteful and straightforward, so your customers feel enticed to explore your products.
Create an aesthetic: Since the decompression zone of the store is the first space potential customers will see, it’s your chance to impress them with your store’s unique style and aesthetic. Decorating using eye-catching displays can draw your customers into the space.
The Importance of Facilities Maintenance
Maintaining your retail facility to stay in optimal condition will positively influence your customers’ experience. Facility maintenance is another factor that can directly benefit from understanding the customer flow through your store and where the high-traffic areas are located. When you understand which places your customers frequent the most, you can ensure you keep these areas especially clean.
For example, you should maintain spaces like bathrooms or main aisles to keep up a good appearance. When you’re completing maintenance tasks, try to do so after hours so your customer can shop uninterrupted. Preventative maintenance on building systems, like heating and lighting, is also crucial so you can avoid surprise issues. When you implement maintenance checks, you can deliver a clean, comfortable and consistent shopping experience for your customers while creating more time for yourself to devote to retail space optimization.
How to Use Data From People Counters
In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of people counters in retail stores, they’re sensors that collect and monitor data, like how many people enter your store, how long they stay and how many of your visitors turn into buyers. They can be especially helpful in determining high-traffic areas of your store.
You can use the data from people counters to do the following:
Analyze traffic flow: As we stated earlier, understanding the way customers flow through your store is vital in deciding how you should display your products. Knowing which way your customers tend to walk out of the decompression zone can help you determine where to place certain products to increase profits. You can use the data from people counters around your store to determine if the layout of your store is successful.
Assess high-traffic areas: People counters can also help you assess your high-traffic areas. Understanding the location of these areas can be beneficial to you because you can place products you want to highlight in the heavily visited areas of your store.
Determine busy and slow times: Using people counting data to determine the slowest and busiest times of the day and week can help you schedule maintenance or additional staff members in a way that’s most beneficial for your space.
Contact Traf-Sys for a Free Quote for Your Retail Business
If you’re looking for the best ways to optimize your retail space, consider implementing people counting systems around your store. Analyze the data to help you make effective decisions about store layout and when the best times are for maintenance or more staff members to be present. At Traf-Sys, we pride ourselves in offering accurate people counting systems to a variety of businesses, and yours could be one of them.
Many industries use people counters as a way to understand what their daily traffic looks like. A store uses people counters to understand their busy times and their overall conversion rate. Libraries use people counters to understand their circulation in the context of how many visitors they have. Shopping centers, malls and other commercial property owners use people counters to gauge the desirability of their properties to retailers and set rents. In public spaces, colleges and universities, people counters track space utilization to assist with funding and resource distribution.
Businesses across sectors use people counters to get reliable data about their visitors and traffic patterns. They can apply this data to serve many purposes, which makes people counters so useful and versatile.
What Is Foot Traffic?
Foot traffic is a metric many businesses use to understand how many people entered a specific location. Retailers use it to determine how many potential customers were in their store during a given time frame. Commercial landlords, especially those in shopping malls, use foot traffic to determine rent for retail locations. Retail space can command higher rent if more people pass by regularly.
Many businesses are familiar with traffic in how it relates to a website. Online, traffic is equal to the number of people who visited a website or particular page. Marketers use many tactics to drive traffic online, and the visitor count determines their success. An e-retailer looks at site traffic in relation to how many visitors placed an online order to learn how effective their website is at driving sales. Foot traffic is that same metric translated into the physical retail space.
Retailers use foot traffic to gain many useful insights. It lets them see when their peak hours are. They can also understand their conversion rate and lost sales opportunities. If a product doesn’t sell well during peak hours, it might be taking up valuable shelf space. A store can also correlate their business traffic to other events to see how they influence visitor counts. Boosting foot traffic is key to increasing sales, so understanding how visitor numbers rise and fall is critical.
How Do People Counters Measure Foot Traffic?
Online traffic is easy to measure. Most websites show their owners traffic graphs by default. To gain the same level of clarity over their visitor counts, physical businesses need to implement a people counting system.
One way to do this is to have someone count visitors with pen and paper or a handheld tally counter. The manual method is the least accurate and efficient. The staff member charged with counting visitors must be solely focused on counting people to avoid miscounts. Manual counting increases your labor expenses and limits staff productivity. If you have multiple store entrances, manual counting gets quite unwieldy. Even if staff members are incredibly focused, they’re still inclined to make errors because the task is so rote.
Electronic people counting systems boast 95%-99% accuracy and require no extra labor power to give you accurate counts. They measure business traffic and space utilization using either overhead or horizontal sensors. Overhead sensors go directly above the entrance and scan a predetermined zone in front of the door to identify pedestrians. They filter out shelves, carts, children and sometimes staff members to give you an accurate count. They also look at the direction of movement to separate those entering from those exiting. Overhead sensors might incorporate one or two video camera lenses, a thermal sensor or an infrared sensor.
Horizontal sensors work by projecting a break beam across the door frame. Whenever something passes through, it counts as a person. Anything tall enough to break the beam, including a loaded shopping cart, will be counted. Horizontal sensors can be uni-directional, meaning they count a person any time the beam breaks. In that case, you divide your final count by two to determine your actual traffic. They can also be bi-directional, where two parallel laser beams span the doorway. Whichever beam breaks first determines whether the pedestrian is entering or exiting.
People counters might give you a count by the hour or at the end of the day, depending on the system’s accuracy. Some types of overhead sensors can even track your foot traffic in real-time.
When you use automated people counters, you can access your foot traffic data via software. The software can break down your foot traffic into custom periods to compare traffic during a promotion or time of year to another. Analyze your data by the entrance to decide how to arrange your entrance displays. The software lets you import sales data to generate conversion rates and staffing data to track productivity in the context of traffic. You can also correlate traffic data to weather patterns or other external factors right from the software.
What Other Metrics Do People Counters Measure?
People counters measure more than just foot traffic. By counting the number of people visiting a business location, people counters can give you insights into:
A conversion rate is the number of transactions divided by the number of people who visit a store. Retailers used to assume most people who entered their store were buying something. When people counters become popular, the numbers told a different story. While the numbers remain hard to pin down, since not all stores track traffic accurately or at all, the industry average rests around a 20% conversion rate.
Understanding your conversion rate, rather than just your raw sales data, gives you an idea of how many sales opportunities you had. Even a 1% increase in conversions can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line. The only way to improve is to understand how your promotions, store, signage and other factors raise and decrease your conversion rates.
Average Transaction Value (ATV)
One way retailers can increase their revenue is to increase the basket size or amount of money individual shoppers spend per visit. This amount represents your ATV — your net sales divided by the number of transactions. Your point-of-sale (POS) system might generate your ATV automatically. Otherwise, you can calculate the figure manually. While you don’t need a people counter to access your ATV, you’ll benefit from aggregating foot traffic with your ATV and comparing these two metrics.
A 2011 academic study found increasing in-store traffic by just one unit increased average sales volume per hour by $9.97. Many factors can contribute to your average transaction value, and traffic is undoubtedly one of them. Understanding how traffic affects basket size in your store helps you maximize your revenue.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
It’s impossible to understand your customer acquisition cost without understanding your traffic and conversion rate. Any marketing you do, whether on or off the premises, determines how many people come through the door. Then, the marketing within the store, product selection and layout determine who converts. All the costs that go into marketing divided by the number of customers acquired represent your CAC.
The data used to determine your CAC can come from your marketing budget and your POS system. It’s crucial to look at this number in light of your foot traffic to identify areas to lower your CAC. If you’re spending a lot of marketing budget getting people in the door, and they aren’t converting in-store, you may need to adjust your strategy. Increasing your conversion rate may lower your CAC.
Benefits of People Counters for Businesses
Retailers, librarians, facilities managers, landlords, hoteliers and anyone with a physical business location can use people counting technology. No matter your business, you’ll benefit from knowing how many people visit you and when. Foot traffic data offers businesses across industries actionable information. Here’s why your business needs a people counter:
Better Understand Business Performance
Seeing your foot traffic and conversion rate lets you know how effectively your business is performing. If a different marketing strategy or employee-to-customer ratio impacts traffic or conversions, you know about it from your foot traffic reports.
You can also compare the performance of one location to another. Are all your sites earning traffic in equal measure as a result of your marketing? Or, are some of your stores consistently pulling in more foot traffic? When you know which stores are drawing in the most customers, you can investigate what factors are at play so you can boost performance at other locations.
Improve Customer Experience
Peak hours sometimes correlate with your shoppers’ needs. For example, a store with peak shopping hours on weekends might cater to “shoppertainment.” Shoppers on weekends may be more interested in having an enjoyable, leisurely visit. A store with peak traffic after business hours on workdays needs a different approach. It might focus on helping shoppers quickly find what they need so they can get home sooner.
When you know your peak shopping hours, you can design a customer experience for the people shopping. It also lets you optimize staffing, so your store runs smoothly during busy times, improving customer experience.
Evaluate Signage and Promotional Success
Is your latest promotion driving more traffic to your location? Is your new sign drawing in passersby from around the plaza? Foot traffic data lets you know if your out-of-store promotions make an impact. Knowing your conversion rate, you’ll also see how your in-store displays affect sales in proportion to traffic. Based on how your traffic and conversions rise and fall, you can tweak your business marketing strategies to find the winning formula.
Compare Digital vs. Physical Traffic
Different types of marketing strategies for small businesses will have different effects on your customers’ behavior. For instance, some of your promotions drive traffic to your website and others to your brick-and-mortar location. Do the same factors that increase your physical traffic give you some lift online? Do you gain more online visitors when in-store traffic is low? Comparing your online and offline visitors lets you better understand your customer journey. Foot traffic shows you how your promotions influence shopping behavior across selling channels.
Understand External Factors That Affect Your Business
Anything from the weather and season to the economy and consumer trends can influence your traffic. Bad weather can impact sales by 23.1%, primarily due to the lowered foot traffic. While these factors are out of your control, knowing how they influence your traffic lets you prepare.
For instance, weather-themed sales, such as for rain clothing or beach fashion, can increase by 40.7% based on the weather. Knowing how weather affects your traffic and conversions in particular product categories helps you make the most out of weather events. You might orchestrate a last-minute sale on bathing suits or fans in anticipation of a heat wave. If snowstorms tend to make business slow, you can move your staff schedule around in anticipation. Likewise, if an annual parade in your area brings in more foot traffic, you can prepare with promotions to attract paradegoers.
Ideally, you want to schedule only as many team members as needed to cover the number of shoppers you have. If you’re understaffed, you’ll miss sales opportunities. Too few cashiers will increase lines at the register, which may turn away customers. Too few stockers may mean you run out of popular items and won’t sell as many as your customers demand. Overstaffing your store means you’ll spend more on labor than you need to.
Knowing what your traffic looks like by the day and by the hour lets you schedule staff most effectively. Once you’ve been using people counting for a year or two, you’ll start to anticipate your seasonal rushes, letting you optimize temporary staffing, too.
A people counter is an essential part of your loss prevention system if you know how to read your foot traffic reports. First, you’ll establish a baseline for how much revenue you can expect in a given period as correlated with your foot traffic. Let’s say you usually average about $500 in sales between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sundays, with usual foot traffic of 50 people.
If you get around 60 visitors one Sunday and sales revenue stays at around $500, the cause may be shoplifting. Your traffic data also shows you if more people used a particular entrance, like the one closest to electronics. If something like this shows up on your foot traffic reports, it’s a good idea to review your security footage during that sales window.
Video-based people counters can even supplement your regular security cameras.
Evaluate Business Expansion Opportunities
When you track foot traffic at your location, you’re armed with more knowledge regarding expanding. Since many commercial landlords track foot traffic, you can compare your current traffic numbers to those cited at a potential rental location. Predict whether a new site will be as profitable as your first based on the foot traffic data.
While there are two main categories of people counters, each has a few different options. Horizontal sensors give you a choice between bi-directional and uni-directional counting. Overhead sensors all offer multi-directional data, with either thermal and image-based counting. Each of these options provides a unique set of advantages and drawbacks.
Horizontal Wired and Wireless Counting Systems
Horizontal counting systems count people based on how many breaks in the horizontal laser beam they sense. These are the most basic and inexpensive automatic people counters. They might use bi- or uni-directional data to give you a count. Since horizontal sensors go along the doorframes of each entrance, they are fast and easy to install.
The downside of horizontal counting systems is their accuracy. Since they only have a linear range, miscounts are more likely. Two people walking abreast may be counted as one. A tall child accompanying an adult shopper might be counted as another potential shopper. If your sensor makes a noise when it senses a passerby, you might get children falsely triggering the sensor for fun.
A uni-directional sensor also makes it harder to pinpoint peak shopping hours. For example, say you take counts every hour using a uni-directional sensor. Every hour, on the hour, you divide your hourly count in two. Let’s say 25 people visited your location in a given hour, and many showed up in the last half of the hour. By the time the hour is up, only five of those 25 people have left the store. A uni-directional sensor would give you a count of 30. You would divide that in two, leaving you with 15. You would wrongly estimate you had 15 visitors during the hour when your traffic was 25.
Because of their accuracy limitations, a horizontal people counter is best for doorways narrower than 10 to 15 feet maximum. They also work better for low-density entrances, making them an affordable option for small businesses. Horizontal counters come in both wired and wireless versions. If you have outlets handy near each entry, you can plug your sensors in at a standard 110-volt power outlet. All the horizontal counters can be battery-powered, giving you a year or more of operation between replacements.
Overhead Counting Systems
Overhead sensors have a bird’s eye view of your entrance area. Since they cover the zones in front of your entrances and identify people individually, they give a more detailed view of your customers. They sense directional flow, so they automatically discount people exiting the store. They can also give you an idea of where your traffic is headed, whether that’s forward, to the right or to the left. Two types of technology can power overhead counting systems — thermal and video sensors. These two technologies can even integrate, so one verifies the other’s accuracy.
No matter which type you choose, you can gain distinct benefits from an overhead sensor. They’re an excellent option for locations with wide entrances and a large physical layout. Overhead sensors are more accurate and can filter out shopping carts and children.
Thermal Overhead Sensors
Thermal overhead sensors use thermal imaging technology to detect people entering and exiting. These systems use body heat, so they can’t accidentally count a cart or another object. Since thermal cameras don’t use light, they work equally well in low-light settings like restaurants and in direct sunlight.
Another benefit of thermal overhead sensors is they have an impressive 95% accuracy. They can cover wide entrances and integrate with detectors at other doors.
One downside to thermal sensors is they are more expensive than basic horizontal counters. Compared to video cameras, they have a smaller field of vision and a lower resolution. As a result, they’re less accurate at identifying children. One other disadvantage is they can only track people in motion. A display near the entrance that causes people to stop can affect the system’s accuracy.
Video-Based Overhead Sensors
The other type of overhead sensor is a system using a camera lens. These overhead counters can provide video footage of your store traffic. The sensor and corresponding software automatically generate traffic data. You also have up to 10 days of stored footage, which you can access for more in-depth analysis. Since the technology is video-based, it can even act as a backup for your security cameras.
Video sensors come in two types — single and dual-lens cameras. The dual cameras offer binocular vision for greater depth perception, while single-lens systems are more affordable. While they are most expensive to implement, video sensors provide excellent accuracy. They can filter out carts, strollers and children from your results with precision.
How to Choose the Right People Counter for Your Business
Your business will likely benefit from all the fantastic metrics available to you with a people counter. The question is, which one is right for you? Different people counters work better in different buildings and layouts. Ask yourself four questions to narrow down your options.
How is your entrance set up? If you have an open doorway, a horizontal counter may not provide accuracy. Horizontal counters work best with sliding doors since the doors won’t block the beam. If you have swing doors, you’ll need them to swing out. Also, low-volume entrances are more conducive to horizontal sensors.
How wide is your entrance? A wide opening — anything above 15 feet — will likely require an overhead people counter. You may need several overhead sensors to span the distance. We generally recommend one sensor per 11 feet of opening. Overhead counters will also need a wired connection to the ceiling.
What time intervals do you want to use when capturing traffic? If you only need a general count of how many people visit your business a day, a uni-directional horizontal sensor is all you need. If you want to capture data by the hour or even more frequently, a bi-directional sensor will work better. Track traffic over shorter intervals using either horizontal or overhead sensors.
Do people browse near your entryway? Since thermal sensors need people to be in motion for an accurate count, it may lose accuracy if shoppers stop near the entrance. A horizontal sensor won’t get confused unless someone stops in the exact path of the laser beam. However, if you have many people browsing in the entryway, you may want to collect more data. Video-based sensors can keep an eye on shoppers who stop to browse and those who pass on through. Review the stored footage from your overhead sensor to get an idea of how many of your visitors pause to browse your display entrances.
Request Your Free Quote From Traf-Sys
Traf-Sys offers an array of people counting systems to meet the needs of any business. Our most sophisticated people counting system, SafeEntry, offers real-time people counting for occupancy monitoring. We also provide affordable horizontal people counters and data-rich overhead people counters. Our systems are between 95%-99% accurate, and we’ll assist you through the entire installation process. We can help you decide which people counter is right for you and teach you to make sense of your foot traffic data after implementation.
Ready to start collecting valuable data about your visitors? Tell us about your company and the products you’re interested in and request your free quote today.
Capacity and occupancy counting is new territory for many retailers. Once, it made sense to use a people counting system that could give you a tally at the end of the day or even once per hour. In this way, people counting technology has been used for many years to predict staffing needs and calculate conversion rates.
The issue for retailers today is in finding the best store traffic counters to achieve real-time occupancy tracking. While the technology has been around for years, not all systems can handle continuous monitoring. So, we’ve compiled this guide to everything you need to know about using customer counters for capacity limits. Learn about the benefits of using this technology, check out features you should look for and compare the systems available.
Read the full article or skip to a specific section:
Today, live occupancy counts are being used to comply with building capacity limits with continuous monitoring. When enforcing fire codes or other safety measures, accurate counting allows you to meet occupancy limits without sacrificing customers. You can also improve shopper satisfaction and maximize sales opportunities. If you keep a line outside your store to stay under capacity, a live count can allow customers to see the current occupancy and decide if they want to wait in line.
As real-time occupancy tracking evolves, retailers will be able to optimize staffing even more. Knowing how many people are in your store and what time they entered allows you to predict how many registers to keep open. You can keep checkout wait times down and avoid short-staffed registers. That level of detail lets you maximize your cashiers’ efficiency, moving them to other duties when occupancy decreases.
The right technology allows you to track staff members separately from customers. This ability can also improve efficiency. For example, imagine the current occupancy count calls for five checkout lanes to be open in 15 minutes. The store manager can use people tracking to see if staff opened five lanes and intervene if needed. The possibilities for continuous occupancy tracking continue to grow as more retailers adopt the technology and begin harnessing its power.
What to Consider Before Choosing Your Customer Counter
People counting technology harnesses sensors to provide a count of how many people enter a store, room or building. Among the many reasons to use a customer counter, limiting or enforcing store capacity is an increasing need. Before you can choose one for your store, you need to evaluate your setting to understand which models will work for you.
First, look at your entrance. Swinging doors may impede the use of certain types of sensors. Some people counters work better for larger doorways, while others can only handle entries up to a specific width. If you have displays and frequent browsing taking place near the entrance, you’ll need a system that can distinguish various objects and movements to avoid miscounts.
Further, you’ll likely need to consider your power requirements. Some models require nearby plug-in power sources, usually a 110-volt outlet. Others offer wireless capabilities with rechargeable or lithium batteries and Power of Ethernet (PoE) capabilities.
Best Features for Capacity Limit People Counters
Most retail people counting systems measure conversion rates. They allow you to look at the total number of sales in the context of the number of people in the store. Depending on the system used, you may receive counts at the end of the day or by the hour. This system works well for marketing purposes, but it may not be ideal for occupancy counting.
If your store plans to use your customer counter to enforce capacity limits, be on the lookout for six key features:
Bi-directional counting: Not every people counting system is optimized for occupancy tracking. To get an accurate picture of who is in your store at a particular time, you need to track both people leaving and entering.
Real-time reporting: A people counting system with intuitive software should be able to give you live reporting. This function allows you to monitor capacity by the minute rather than by the day or hour.
Customization options: The possibilities for people counting are vast. While you may use your counter primarily for occupancy tracking, you may want features for internal metrics. In that case, the ability to connect it to other devices and the right software is critical. You’ll also want the ability to set a custom maximum capacity and a counting range. Finally, it’s helpful to distinguish employees from customers.
Customer-facing display: A digital display allows customers to understand your current capacity. It lets them know when it is safe to enter or how crowded the store will be.
Whole-store tracking: Many sensors can link together in a network. This feature is useful when a store has multiple entrances. Many stores have found it challenging to set the right capacity limit. With integrated tracking, you can find the proper capacity for your space to avoid crowding without sacrificing customers.
Overhead counting: You’ll need an overhead-style people counter to access live reporting. Counters installed on the ceiling directly above your entrances provide the most reliability. With a bird’s eye view, individuals cannot be blocked from the sensors. These counters can be used with doors that swing in either direction and can filter out children, shopping carts and strollers to help you get the most accurate count of your customers. An aerial view also allows these counters to track movement, meaning they can distinguish between shoppers entering and exiting. If there are merchandise displays in the entryway, overhead sensors will not be disrupted, and lingering shoppers won’t be counted more than once. You’ll likely need a power source and a wireless internet connection for live overhead tracking.
Types of Customer Counters for Store Capacity Limits
There are many different types of people counting systems on the market. Each one has unique features that make them ideal for specific environments. To use a people counter for capacity tracking, you’ll need models capable of providing accurate, real-time reports. Keep in mind that many people counters are designed with marketing analytics in mind rather than capacity planning. While any occupancy counter will also be able to provide data to measure conversion rates and the success of your marketing campaigns, not all people counters support live occupancy reporting. Here are two of the best customer counters available, and their level of suitability for live capacity monitoring:
1. Stereo People Counters
Stereo counters are about the size of a rectangular pencil case with two camera lenses. Like human eyesight, the dual cameras provide depth of field. The technology is modeled closely after how binocular vision works in nature. Each of your eyes creates a slightly different image, which your brain combines to create an understanding of your surroundings in three dimensions.
Most stereo sensors mimic the typical distance between human eyes, which averages around 60 millimeters. The software connected to the sensors does the same work as our brains, making sense of the two images collected by each of the camera lenses for 3D image processing. The result is a sensor that can count people as well as a person can. Unlike a person, the technology won’t get fatigued and is less likely to make mistakes.
Benefits of Stereo People Counting Systems
The dual-camera configuration allows the sensor to track the direction of traffic and other useful data. These systems usually attach to the ceiling above the measurement area. They can be slightly tilted to create a broader field of vision while maintaining accuracy. Stereo counters won’t lose sight of their targets even with gaps in traffic flow, making them suitable for high and low volumes. They can monitor entries and exits in real-time. Because of their depth of field, they can estimate heights, identify children and exclude shopping carts for greater accuracy.
Stereo sensors can also be linked in a network to cover every entrance. This feature makes them useful for shopping malls, large department stores or any building with multiple entrances and exits. Because they update via software in real time, an employee at one entrance can tell how many people have entered a store through any door. This capability significantly eases communication and visibility since you don’t have to aggregate information from several employees taking manual counts.
Drawbacks of Stereo People Counting Systems
One potential downside of a stereo counting system is that it uses cameras to identify and track people. Because cameras use visible light, changes in lighting and dim conditions can affect accuracy. Shadows and a busy background can also occasionally influence results. Traf-Sys systems have advanced light sensors that help our stereo counters adjust to different lighting conditions, making them more accurate in various ambient lighting conditions.
Collecting images of your shoppers may present a privacy concern. If your store already uses and stores security footage, you can adapt your current privacy procedures to protect your customers. If privacy is a concern for you, we recommend our time of flight people counting systems, which eliminate this obstacle.
Stereo Counters Available From Traf-Sys
Traf-Sys offers a variety of binocular stereo video sensor models in our Spectrum collection. We have options for indoor heights up to 29.5 feet. We also have systems for outdoor applications with waterproof hardware. They are resilient to changes in lighting or temperature, making them some of the most advanced camera trackers. They also have options to filter out strollers and carts to maintain an accurate capacity count and avoid sacrificing potential revenue. Our systems also have extended coverage for broader entries.
2. Time of Flight Sensor
At about the size of a Wi-Fi router, a time of flight sensor uses some of the most advanced tracking technology. Like a stereo counter, a time of flight sensor can be used for 3D imaging. It sends a signal to the objects below it from its attachment point on the ceiling. Then, it records the reflection of infrared light as it bounces back to the sensor. It can build 3D images of customers by calculating the differences in speed between each beam of infrared light — hence the name, “time of flight.” With excellent depth of field, it can track movement and traffic better than stereo models. These sensors can work even in total darkness and link with other cameras to cover a wide entrance and enhance your data.
Time of flight people counters can track movement along x-, y- and z-axes. The result is even higher accuracy when it comes to tracking movement. They can calculate the heights of individuals within 2 centimeters, making them even more powerful at filtering out shopping carts and children. The images collected by time of flight sensors delineate the shape of a person with incredible accuracy, even outlining the contours of heads and shoulders. Like stereo sensors, they can be mounted on a tilt, increasing the measuring zone for wider entrances.
They are also lighting fast. One study found that time of flight sensors can measure at 150 frames per second, making real-time reporting possible. The same report also found that these sensitive instruments have a minimal average error rate of just 3.1%.
Because time of flight technology works on infrared rather than visible light, it also collects completely anonymous data. You will not need to adopt new practices to protect your customers. Further, it is unaffected by busy floor patterns or shadows.
Drawbacks of Time of Flight Sensors
Though this technology is promising, not all manufacturers can boast excellent performance. It’s crucial to find a provider who can back up their accuracy claims. The Traf-Sys time of flight tracking system has a 99.5% accuracy rating, and we’ve backed this up with video validation.
One other disadvantage of time of flight sensors is they tend to be more expensive to implement than stereo counters. If budget is a concern for you, you may prefer stereo occupancy monitoring solutions.
Time of Flight People Counting Systems From Traf-Sys
The connected software provides a real-time occupancy count. Connected screens use color-coded warnings when the occupancy is approaching or exceeding capacity. You also have the option to include or exclude staff and keep the records for marketing analysis.
Learn More About Real-Time Occupancy Monitoring From Traf-Sys
At Traf-Sys, we offer a wide selection of people counters for a variety of purposes. We’ve been at the forefront of continuous people counting through our time of flight capacity tracking solution. We also offer one of the best apps for people counting on iPads, smartphones and other mobile devices. Our SafeEntry application is optimized for occupancy tracking, while VisiCount provides advanced footfall analytics, which you can access right from your device.
Grocery stores have been forced to make rapid operational changes to meet local and federal guidelines. While these guidelines are in place to protect the health of employees and customers, their restrictive nature brings up new challenges for grocery store owners.
Social distancing is one of the more difficult guidelines for grocery stores to follow. In the case of the novel coronavirus, grocery stores need to maintain 6 feet of distance between customers and limit the number of people allowed in the store at one time.
Foot traffic counting systems have been offering grocery store owners a way to optimize staffing, scheduling and queuing. They also offer a simple solution to help stores operate within coronavirus-related social distancing measures. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to use a grocery store customer counter to keep your store compliant with social distancing policies and procedures
Grocery store owners and managers should become familiar with all major CDC guidelines and apply FDA guidelines where appropriate, such as at a deli counter. The National Grocers Association has compiled a list of practices to help grocery stores meet CDC guidelines, including:
Use markers: Apply tape, stickers or other signage on the floor around checkout lines to indicate where customers should stand to maintain 6 feet of distance.
Put up signs: Let customers know that social distancing is in place by putting signs at eye level in multiple places. Entrances and checkout lines are the two most important places to put up social distancing signage.
Educate customers and employees: Signage may also address proper, CDC-recommended hygiene procedures, such as washing hands for 20 seconds with soap.
Stay up-to-date: Guidelines may change often, so it’s critical to keep a line of communication open with state and local health officials to maintain compliance.
Alter hours: Consider changing store hours to promote shopping during lower traffic times, and implement regular store hours to serve specific at-risk groups, such as seniors.
Provide options: If and where possible, expand any remote shopping options. Offering delivery or curbside pickup, for example, are excellent ways to keep up sales while reducing the traffic through a store.
Reconsider food and samples: Ready-to-eat samples and self-serve food areas like soup and salad bars or buffets should be temporarily closed.
Increase sanitization: Add hand sanitizing stations to both customer and employee areas around the store, and add more mandatory cleaning and sanitization procedures to schedules. Determine high-touch areas and clean them more frequently.
Improve scheduling: Determine positions that are hardest to cover, and cross-train employees to minimize coverage issues.
Revamp leave policies: Alter and communicate policies related to sick leave and paid time off.
These guidelines are not completely comprehensive, and there are many more details available on the CDC website. However, the list above covers the essential practices grocery stores must implement.
Some states and local governments are putting forth their own grocery store social distancing guidelines, which are more specific and stringent than federal ones. Massachusetts, for example, issued an order in April 2020 that limits grocery store customers and staff to 40% of the building’s maximum permitted occupancy level.
Additionally, the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) union is petitioning the CDC to restrict store occupancy to between 20% and 30% of the building’s full capacity.
The Benefits of People Counting Technology for Social Distancing
Complying with coronavirus-related regulations is a challenge. The larger a grocery store is, the more difficult it is to keep track of comings and goings in the building. A grocery store people counting system is an easy, intuitive way to make sure your business does not exceed grocery store capacity limits while social distancing guidelines are in place. Let’s take a look at five key ways foot traffic counters can benefit your store:
1. Determine Occupancy at a Glance
Counting heads in a grocery store can quickly become an overwhelming prospect if you try to do it manually. If you have multiple entrances, you will need to shut all but one down because it’s impossible for two employees doing two different counts at two different doors to sync their counts up without a real-time system in place.
People counting systems update automatically each time a person enters and leaves the store, so the numbers are always current, and there is no element of mystery or uncertainty in the counting process.
2. Find Out Where People Cluster
Promoting social distancing may mean rearranging some parts of the store to prevent people from clustering together. People counters, especially those with directional capabilities that indicate whether customers are coming in or going out, can help managers make decisions about temporary layout changes.
For example, if the customer counter shows high traffic and employees notice that a good deal of that traffic ends up clustering around one particular area, you can investigate possible reasons why. Is the display overly large and causing a bottleneck due to people trying to navigate in opposite directions around it? Is it located near a checkout line, causing people who want the item to get too close to customers waiting in line? Traffic monitors can provide excellent opportunities for innovation in this area.
3. Discover Peak Traffic Times
Knowing when traffic peaks occur is important because it allows management to adjust procedures to increase safety. Cleaning routines are a good example. A store should have robust cleaning measures in place at all times, but a spike in traffic provides a compelling reason to add extra cleaning duties into employee schedules. However, you don’t want to have employees spending too much time cleaning when it’s not necessary.
With a foot traffic counter, management can set thresholds for the number of customers after which an extra cleaning needs to take place. For example, a store may have implemented a policy of wiping down freezer door handles every hour, assuming a customer turnover of 100 per hour. To better protect everyone’s safety, management may decide that if customers exceed 150 per hour, cleaning needs to happen every 30 minutes. A customer counting system makes this type of adjustment possible.
4. Coordinate Effective Scheduling
Scheduling employees is always one of the challenges of operating a successful grocery store. Management has to ensure there is enough coverage to meet customer needs and greater demands for cleaning and sanitization. On the other hand, paying more employees than necessary is never a good business practice from a financial perspective.
Under normal circumstances, most grocers quickly pin down when traffic is highest and lowest, and the approximate buying habits of their customer base. There has been an upended in customer habits significantly, from when they come into the store to the amount they spend. For example, even though foot traffic in stores is down, shoppers are spending 15% to 20% more on groceries.
Foot traffic counters provide information that allows management to make the most efficient staffing decisions under new and changing circumstances, with much greater accuracy than relying on general observations.
5. Improve Customer Experience
From the customer’s point of view, the coronavirus outbreak has made grocery shopping a far less pleasant experience. Having to follow the 6-foot rule means many grocery stores are having to stop customers at the door and have them form a line to wait until the store is under its modified capacity. Even then, customers at stores that aren’t well-prepared are facing long lines due to understaffing.
Grocery store people counting systems offer a customer-facing dashboard that shows the current capacity in terms of the upper occupancy limit and the percentage of capacity the store is at currently. When they can see traffic changes in real-time, customers tend to feel less stressed and uncertain while waiting to enter a store. Additionally, stores with people counters have the tools to staff appropriately. That means customers can feel safe knowing the store has enough staff to clean properly as well as keep checkout line lengths from becoming frustratingly long.
Steps Grocery Owners Can Take to Follow New Guidelines
It takes planning to stay prepared, so consider these tips for staying compliant:
1. Become Familiar With Local Regulations
Although the CDC and FDA are providing guidelines on a national level, the restrictions on grocery stores may be more stringent at a local level. Grocery store owners and managers need to stay up-to-date with guidelines that change frequently and be aware of what practices are simply guidelines as opposed to formal orders with potential legal consequences.
Sign up for alerts from your state and local health departments to ensure your store can pivot to new policies or procedures as quickly as possible when necessary.
2. Educate Employees
As employees are the ones who will be carrying out social distancing and prevention measures, it’s essential to provide thorough training on the store’s new policies. Education efforts should be done in person, where possible, and duplicated in written form to ensure better retention. Employees need to know about:
Cleaning and disinfection
Cloth face coverings
Use of personal protection equipment (PPE)
What to do if sick
Consider compiling a list of resources for employees, such as information on hand-washing and new cleaning policies, and place it in a high-visibility area. Ultimately, management is responsible for ensuring employees understand and follow the new guidelines.
3. Increase Sanitization Stations
One aspect of social distancing is making an effort to reduce the transfer of the virus from person to person through increased sanitation. Both employees and customers should have increased access to sanitization stations, such as hand washing areas or hand sanitizer dispensers.
It’s a good idea to place these stations at entrances, as well as near high-traffic and high-touch areas. A people counting system with dwell technology can help you find out where people spend more idle time, allowing you to pinpoint the best locations for additional stations.
4. Increase Cleaning Frequency
One of the critical steps in following CDC cleaning guidelines is to increase the frequency of cleaning and ensure employees are using products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Stores should undergo a thorough cleaning at least once every 24 hours, and disinfecting procedures should see these surfaces sanitized more frequently:
Credit card terminals
Shopping carts and baskets
The CDC’s framework for cleaning and sanitizing is based on three practices:
Routine cleaning using soap and water.
Disinfection with EPA-approved products, including ready-to-use sprays, wipes and concentrates.
Use of other types of disinfectants, such as bleach and water mixtures or 70% alcohol solutions when EPA-approved products are not available.
5. Request PPE
Personal protective equipment is still hard to come by, even for essential businesses. The National Grocers Association suggests requesting face masks from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through their online form as one way to increase the PPE available to employees.
6. Start Counting Customers
Knowing the number of people in a grocery store is no longer an option in many places. To limit grocery store capacity levels, you first need to know how many people are inside the building. Installing a people counter is quick, easy and provides a simple way to keep tabs on store occupancy without assigning employees to do potentially inaccurate headcounts.
7. Change Store Layout
One of the challenges with social distancing in grocery stores is the two-way nature of aisles. When two people are headed down the same aisle in opposite directions, there’s little opportunity to avoid a direct exchange of droplets. Many large grocery chains are implementing one-way aisles as well as designating in-only and out-only doors to help prevent customers from coming into close contact with each other.
8. Hire More People
The extra burden of increased cleaning practices takes employees away from time on the floor and at the cash register. Hiring more people and training them in multiple areas is the best way to maximize shift coverage. This helps ensure swift movement of checkout lines as well as the proper execution of new cleaning policies.
9. Invest in Signage
Grocery stores have a responsibility to help customers implement social distancing. In addition to using a foot traffic counter to maintain safe occupancy levels, stores can provide visual reminders via various types of signage. Examples include:
Signs outside the store indicating entrances and exits.
Signs highlighting available sanitization tools like hand sanitizer stations and disinfectant wipes for carts or baskets.
Floor decals marking 6-foot intervals at checkout lines.
Floor decals indicating one-way aisles.
Reminders to wash hands outside of restrooms.
A little bit of prompting can go a long way in promoting social distancing in your store.
How Can I Improve the Checkout Process?
The best way to ensure customers remain happy during the checkout process is to provide adequate staffing and multiple options. For example, customers who only have a basket of items don’t want to wait behind people stocking up with a full cart, so having at least one express lane and a self-checkout option can get these people out the door faster.
How Can I Encourage Employees to Maintain Safe Practices?
Be sure to give your employees the tools needed to succeed within new guidelines. Workers who have enough time and adequate supplies to adhere to cleaning schedules are more likely to do so effectively. Likewise, employees who are given the right PPE are more likely to wear it. Ensure you’re getting the right scheduling coverage and supplies. It shows you care and facilitates better adherence.
How Can My Store Ensure Customers Follow Social Distancing Guidelines?
Customers are often unpredictable and sometimes resistant to new guidelines. While you can’t force them to do the right thing, showing that your store is committed to following regulations is a good way to lead by example. When customers see employees wearing PPE and cleaning regularly, combined with high-visibility signage and even auditory reminders of policies in place, they are more likely to comply with new grocery store social distancing guidelines.
How Do People Counters Work?
There are four important distinctions to make when discussing how people counters work:
Overhead vs. horizontal: Foot traffic sensors can either be mounted in the ceiling or on both sides of a doorway.
Wired vs. wireless: Overhead counters need to be wired into a network, whereas horizontal counters can be powered by batteries. Some systems can use either form of power.
Bi-directional vs. uni-directional: A bi-directional system indicates whether a person is walking in or out, while a uni-directional system does not distinguish between in or out counts.
Beam vs. video vs. thermal: People counting systems can use infrared beams, advanced 3D video or highly accurate thermal imaging to provide data.
How Do I Determine Which Store Traffic Counters Work Best for My Store?
There are several variables that can affect what type of people counting system is ideal for your grocery store. They include:
The size of the store
The number of entrances
The type and size of the entrance
Power availability at the entrance
The number of features you want
What Stores Are Using People Counters?
The majority of major grocery chains are changing the industry with the use of foot traffic counters. The Aldi customer counter and Giant grocery store foot traffic counter, for example, are allowing these stores to maintain accurate customer counts for their new limits. Aldi uses their system to limit customers to around five per 1,000 square feet, while Giant Food stores use theirs to reduce capacity to 20%.
Find the Right People Counter for Your Grocery Store With Traf-Sys
The novel coronavirus has already changed the way grocery stores do business and serve their customers, and there is no telling whether those changes will be permanent. As social distancing guidelines continue to evolve in response to new data, it’s a good idea to stay prepared for even further restricted occupancy with a people counting system.
A grocery store foot traffic counter will enable your store to meet stringent guidelines, and it will act as a data collection tool that can streamline the way you staff and provide insight on customer behavior. Even after the coronavirus crisis has passed, a grocery store people counting system will continue to provide value to your business.
Traf-Sys offers multiple people counting sensors and systems that fit the needs of your store and budget. Our basic systems offer everything you need to comply with occupancy requirements, while others offer an astonishing level of detail, such as being able to distinguish between children and adults for greater analytic insight. No matter what your needs are, Traf-Sys is ready to help.
Fill out our online form to get a quote within one business day, and start on the road to implementing full social distancing requirements.
If your business has shut down since the start of the current health crisis, you’re probably hoping to get back to work as soon as it’s safe. Now, as restrictions are lifted, many businesses can finally reopen. However, due to current reopening guidelines, your store or restaurant will need to operate differently than it once did.
This guide on how to keep the workplace safe from coronavirus can help you open for business safely under the current regulations.
Understanding New Guidelines
All nonessential businesses have adjusted their operations since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Now, as states begin to ease restrictions, many companies are starting to reopen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers recommendations for small businesses and the most up-to-date information about the disease.
Before entering Phase One, a state should meet specific criteria. Your state should have a downward trajectory of influenza and COVID-like illnesses, as well as documented cases reported for 14 days. Hospitals must have the capacity to operate without crisis care and have a robust testing program for healthcare workers.
When all these criteria are met, businesses can begin operation under Phase One guidelines, unless otherwise determined by the state government:
Return to work in phases when possible.
Enforce social distancing for staff.
Cut down on nonessential travel.
Consider special accommodations for high-risk employees.
Sit-down restaurants and other large venues can operate with strict social distancing measures.
Bars should remain closed.
If a state has no evidence of a rebound and meets all criteria for Phase One a second time, employers can operate under Phase Two:
Continue to enforce social distancing for staff.
Consider special accommodations for high-risk employees.
Sit-down restaurants and other large venues can operate under moderate social distancing rules.
Bars may reopen with reduced standing-room capacity.
If the state doesn’t have a rebound and can satisfy the gating criteria for another 14 days, it may enter Phase Three:
All staffing may resume as normal without restrictions.
Sit-down restaurants and other large venues can operate with limited social distancing measures.
Bars may increase their standing-room capacity.
Each state will have its own strategy for reopening, so your business may be subject to more regulations. In general, you should expect to keep staff and customers at least 6 feet apart, disinfect surfaces and ensure employees wash their hands often.
How to Reopen Your Business With the New Guidelines
New guidelines call for careful procedures for social distancing and disinfection. Follow these steps to ensure you follow all new regulations and create a safe working and shopping environment:
1. Follow the Latest Federal, State and Local Guidelines
As you assess your reopening plans, look to any federal, state and local guidelines. If you do not meet state requirements for reopening, you should not reopen. The CDC has specific recommendations for essential grocery and retail workers that can guide your operation efforts. You can also review the CDC’s restaurant and bar decision tree to decide if your business is ready to reopen.
These rules dictate measures to keep people apart. You’ll likely have to limit your capacity, which requires an accurate headcount. People-counting technology gives you a live count of those who have entered and exited the building without putting your employees in harm’s way. This information lets you know when to stop allowing new patrons to keep your capacity in check.
You may also want to use floor markers to guide people waiting to enter the building or to use the register.
4. Create a Schedule and Procedure for Disinfecting
Many essential retailers have limited hours to make time for frequent disinfecting. As they begin to reopen, other retailers and restaurants should expect to do the same.
The CDC offers extensive guidance on cleaning and disinfecting for reopened businesses. Any disinfection plan should follow these guidelines:
Clean all surfaces and objects with soap and water. Soap and water remove germs and dirt from surfaces, lowering the risk of spreading any viruses. Areas that are not frequently touched will only need soap and water.
If no disinfectants are available, you can mix your own. Two approved homemade disinfectants are a mixture of 1/3 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water or a solution of 70% alcohol.
While there are no specific rules on how often to disinfect, it’s crucial to do so regularly. Always clean visibly dirty areas and disinfect as often as makes sense for your business. A people counting sensor can let you know how many people have visited your store since the last cleaning to help you decide if it’s the right time to disinfect again.
5. Focus on Contactless Service
Many retailers and restaurants are using new methods to continue serving customers with limited contact. Some stores and restaurants use delivery and curbside pickup to limit contact. These methods allow you to keep capacities low within your store and continue to serve many customers. Also, touchless or online payment can reduce touchpoints between customers and staff.
6. Obtain Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Employees
Whenever possible, PPE can help your employees and customers stay safe. If it’s not feasible to provide masks to employees, encourage staff to wear cloth masks. Be sure to provide hand sanitizer and keep the bathrooms stocked with soap. The CDC recommends wearing gloves when using disinfectants, so it is vital to keep these in stock.
7. Train Employees to Follow and Enforce Health and Safety Protocols
As you reopen your business, your employees will have to take on new duties, such as disinfecting surfaces and enforcing social distancing. As new tasks become necessary, make sure your staff understands new rules and expectations and is equipped to follow them. Also, consider automating your capacity counting with a people counter to alleviate staff from the added workloads.
8. Use Ongoing Monitoring to Protect Staff and Employees
The CDC recommends sending employees home if they exhibit any symptoms associated with COVID-19, and that employees should stay home when they feel ill. So, you should develop procedures to check for symptoms in employees as they report for work. Some stores check customer’s temperatures using no-touch thermometers before they enter the establishment. If you can’t check temperatures for your employees, have them check their temperatures themselves before coming in for work. Decide what is possible and what makes you and your employees most comfortable.
9. Decide How to Rehire Furloughed Staff
If your business had to furlough staff to cope with closures and loss of business, it might be challenging to decide when and who to rehire. The essential team members might look different from company to company. As you first reopen, you may not see your normal flow of customers return immediately, so you may not be able to rehire all your staff. Decide who is necessary and how many people you can afford to pay as you reopen your doors.
If you cannot hire back everyone, consider allowing those with higher risks to stay home and hire back the ones who feel ready to return.
10. Communicate With Staff and Customers About Their Concerns
Even after following all the necessary guidelines, you may have to do more to get your business up and running. Staff may be fearful about returning to work, and customers may be worried about venturing out for nonessential services. It’s crucial to communicate with your team and work with them to make sure they feel safe returning to work. For customers, highlight the precautions your business is taking and ask if there is anything you can do to make them feel safer.
How to Prepare Employees to Maintain Safe Guidelines
As an employer, you need to support and train your employees to protect themselves, each other and your customers. Here’s what you can do to prepare your employees for a return to work:
1. Provide Training
With all the new guidelines to keep workplaces and customers safe from coronavirus, it’s crucial to ensure everyone is following them. Employees should receive training as appropriate on:
How to launder work clothing at home.
How and when to wash hands.
How and when to use gloves.
How to wear a respirator.
How to enforce capacity and social distancing rules.
How to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as shopping carts, the kitchen, ATMs, cash registers, tables and restrooms.
2. Reinforce Proper Hygiene
When handling food items as you would in a restaurant or grocery store, you need to follow hand-washing guidelines. Employees should wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds often, especially before eating and after sneezing, coughing, blowing their noses or going to the bathroom.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has more personal hygiene guidelines for food service workers. They recommend employees use gloves to avoid direct contact with ready-to-eat foods. Your staff should also wash their hands before preparing food.
As an employer, you can reinforce these behaviors through frequent reminders, informational posters in the bathrooms and by providing access to gloves and soap. Place hand sanitizing stations throughout your store or restaurant to help employees stay sanitary between hand washings.
3. Provide Flexible Sick Leave
Another way to support employees is by offering flexible sick leave. The CDC recommends employees stay home when they feel sick to prevent the spread of germs to other employees and customers. To accommodate that, employers should be flexible with sick leave and understand an employee might need to take more sick time.
4. Limit Business Travel
If you have employees who split their time between several locations or who frequently travel to meet with suppliers, consider limiting this travel. Keep employees at a single site and, whenever possible, hold virtual meetings.
People with underlying medical conditions such as chronic lung disease, asthma, heart conditions, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and liver disease.
People who are immunocompromised.
People with severe obesity.
If you employ individuals who have a higher risk of severe illness, develop a plan to help them avoid contact with customers and fellow employees. If at all possible, allow these employees to take their work behind the scenes or to telecommute.
Tools and Supplies to Help Businesses Reopen
What do you need before you can reopen? Supplies and technology can vary depending on your business, so you should review this list to see what tools might be helpful.
People Counting Technology
With social distancing rules lowering building capacity for many businesses, a reliable way to know how many people are in your store or restaurant is to use an occupancy counter. The technology, which can be either infrared, video or thermal-based, senses when people enter or exit your building to give you an accurate headcount. You can then safely enforce lowered capacity requirements. A people counter helps you meet coronavirus guidelines, with high-precision real-time reporting on combined IN and OUT data from unlimited entry points. A customer-facing display can also provide your customers with helpful information about the current occupancy levels before entering. We developed the SafeEntry system to meet the demands of the current COVID-19 crisis. It displays the number of patrons that are “safe to admit” at any time, lets you set your own capacity limits and uses no additional hardware.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment can take different forms for different businesses. They often include disposable masks and gloves for employees. If you can provide these accommodations to your employees, hold training on how to wear them. If your employees wear cloth face coverings, provide support and directions for how to wash them. They should be washed and dried at the highest temperature settings after every use.
In a retail setting, you can also consider using plexiglass partitions at registers.
Health Monitoring Tools
Non-contact infrared thermometers or thermal cameras can be used to check employee and customers’ temperatures upon arrival. If your business can afford to use temperature monitoring, it can go a long way in preventing sick people from visiting your store.
The EPA has a list of disinfectants approved for use against SARS-CoV-2 and other viral pathogens. Look for disinfectants from this list first. You can mix your own disinfectant with either 1/3 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water or 70% alcohol if you cannot find any. If you need to disinfect a soft, porous material such as carpet or upholstered seating, you’ll need a specific disinfectant for these materials.
Besides disinfectants, you should have gloves, soap and water for cleaning surfaces throughout your business.
Personal Hygiene Supplies
You should try to set up hand sanitizing stations for both customers and employees, especially at cash registers or where people come in contact with one another. They should also be set up near where employees handle food or merchandise. Also, be sure the restrooms are well-stocked with soap and paper towels, so employees and customers can wash their hands. Other personal hygiene supplies include tissues and no-touch trash cans.
You might consider posting signage around your business to remind customers and employees to keep an appropriate distance and wash their hands often. You can also mark the floor with tape to keep tables and people at least 6 feet apart.
The Benefits of People Counting Systems for Social Distancing
With social distancing becoming the new normal for the foreseeable future, your store needs live occupancy counting to keep up. As your employees learn new procedures and you take on new responsibilities to keep customers safe, automated people counting offers many advantages.
Monitor Your Occupancy With Real-Time Data
With new restrictions placing maximum occupancy limits at a fraction of what they usually are, it doesn’t take many people for your building to reach its maximum occupancy. To maximize the number of people you can serve without violating rules, up-to-the-minute data about how many visitors you have is crucial. SafeEntry from Traf-Sys offers a real-time count that any of your employees can access via phone, tablet or computer.
If your store has multiple entrances, IN and OUT foot traffic is instantly updated for all employees without any additional coordination. Employees can update the occupancy limit at any time, allowing you to adjust as restrictions do. If you’re reserving certain hours for high-risk visitors, you can lower your occupancy limit during this time for added protection.
Distribute Your Staff More Effectively
Counting people by hand puts your team is closer proximity with more of your customers, which can make your employees feel unsafe. It also requires at least two people per door if one person counts those who enter and another counts those who leave. With the coronavirus placing additional duties, such as disinfecting, on your staff’s docket, you might not have the capacity to divert many of your employees to counting customers. People counting sensors automate this task, allowing you to send your staff where they are needed most.
Let Your Customers Make Informed Decisions
Some of your customers may want to avoid shopping during peak times. However, with people working fewer or more flexible hours, daily rushes can be more unpredictable than they have been in the past. If you use a monitor to display a current occupancy count for customers, people can decide for themselves whether it is safe to enter. Your customers will appreciate knowing your business is doing one more thing to keep them safe. You may even see your crowds self-regulate, with more people choosing to come back another time.
Inform Your Sanitation Schedule
Knowing how many people visit your establishment on a given day can help you adjust your cleaning and disinfecting decisions. You might decide you want to clean your building after a certain number of people have entered or by looking at occupancy data over time.
For example, say your people counter registers a regular peak in visitors between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., and a lull at 3 p.m. You can use this information to close at 3 p.m. for routine cleaning then reopen before your evening rush. With data-backed decision making, you can maintain cleanliness without sacrificing business.
FAQs About Social Distancing, Health and Safety for Small Businesses
Keeping the workplace safe in the age of coronavirus can be a challenge. It’s new territory for every business owner, and that leaves many questions about how to stay safe.
How Can We Bring in New Customers With Social Distancing Guidelines?
With many companies following new rules and seeing fewer customers than usual, it can be challenging to bring in new business. Here are a few things your business can try to attract new customers:
Offer options for limited and no-contact service. Click and collect, takeout, delivery or drive-thru services give customers more options and let you keep occupancy low.
Give customers the option to buy gift certificates online to support your business.
Advertise your health and safety precautions, so customers know it is safe to visit.
Go above and beyond your legal requirements to create a safe working, shopping or eating environment.
Talk to both employees and customers about the things they want to see your business doing to promote safety for all.
How Should We Disinfect Products?
Currently, the CDC does not recommend that shoppers or stores disinfect food products. There’s no evidence that food packaging plays a significant role in spreading COVID-19 in the U.S. When it comes to stores, the more crucial areas to disinfect include shopping carts, self-checkout lanes, cash registers and restrooms.
Have employees wash their hands before stocking items and discourage shoppers from touching products they don’t intend to buy. For other types of merchandise, such as clothes, some stores are using a 72-hour “quarantine” for returned items.
In a restaurant setting, the FDA recommends some new procedures to keep food safe for consumption:
Discontinue operations requiring customers to use common utensils or dispensers, such as salad bars, buffets and beverage dispensers.
Verify that ware-washing machines are using the required wash and rinse temperatures, detergents and sanitizers.
Ensure food reaches the proper internal temperature before serving.
When storing hot foods for later use, be sure to cool them rapidly.
Minimize storing or displaying food between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Introduce new training for any new cooking or preparation procedures.
What Should We Do in the Event of a Confirmed or Suspected Case?
If an employee comes to work with COVID-19 symptoms, immediately separate the staff member from other employees and send them home.
According to the CDC, if an employee has a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, you probably do not need to shut down the entire facility. However, you should close off any areas used for a prolonged period by the sick person. Wait at least 24 hours or as long as possible before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize the risk of exposure to respiratory droplets. During the waiting period, increase air circulation to the contaminated area by opening outside doors and windows.
Follow all CDC guidelines to disinfect the area. Determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and decide what precautions those individuals should take. If the employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19, employers should inform employees of possible exposure without violating workplace confidentiality.
Learn More About People Counting Systems From Traf-Sys
People counting technology can help if you need a way to limit capacity in your retail store or restaurant. We offer a wide range of people counting sensors that allow you to access real-time data on the number of people in your store without the need for an employee at the door. Our systems offer 95% accuracy and above, with detection zones up to 80 feet wide.
We offer a variety of tools to help you regulate the capacity of your store. Customer-facing screens inform visitors whether they can enter and allow each customer to make an informed decision before entering your establishment. The technology reduces the workload for your essential workers and shows customers you care about their safety.