Is a People Counter Right for My Business?

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As e-commerce continues to take ever-larger shares of the consumer “wallet,” brick-and-mortar retailers are sharpening their focus on the in-store experience. To make the most of their investment in physical locations, retailers are seeking ways to maximize the return on each customer’s visit. However, boosting this type of ROI requires accurately measuring when, and how, customers currently shop their stores, so they can establish a baseline for what works and what doesn’t. This need is raising the profile of people counting technology, an increasingly valuable tool for retailers seeking to:

● Test promotions and marketing strategies

● Improve store layouts

● Map and adjust customer people patterns to boost awareness and conversion rates

● Ensure staffing levels are appropriate, and determine whether staff is being deployed where associates can most effectively improve customer service and increase conversion

If you determine that people counters can help maximize your brick-and-mortar investment, the type of technology you choose will depend on the size and complexity of your store environments. Horizontal people counters are the least expensive but are less accurate than other solutions, and they are only recommended for store entrances that are at least 15 feet wide. Directional people counters can report how many people have entered a store; those equipped with bi-directional sensors provide hourly customer counts that help retailers gauge customer intentions. If these directional people counting sensors are placed throughout the store, they can indicate not only what days and times are the busiest but also what shoppers’ habits are as they traverse the store.

The most accurate type of people counters use overhead sensors installed in the store’s ceiling. These solutions can cover a larger area than counters placed at doors, and there’s virtually no risk of anyone being blocked from the sensor’s view.

The more sensitive the people counter, the easier it is for a retailer to determine a shopper’s intentions – whether they are simply browsing or if they have a predetermined goal in mind. People counters can also be used to measure conversion, i.e. did the shopping trip result in an actual purchase?

Because people counters provide an unbiased, scientific view of actual customer people, they can support strategic decisions around store layouts, product placements, and promotional strategies. Determining which areas have the highest people will also help retailers determine how many sales associates should be made available to assist customers, at what times and in what departments.

Promotions will be most successful in high-people areas where they will be exposed to the maximum number of customers. Retailers should consider placing their high-profit items in busy areas, while locating high-demand items in low-people areas such as the rear of the store. This will help draw customers all the way through the store, exposing them to more products for potential purchase.

People counters can also help retailers determine whether the store layout is helping or hindering sales. For example, wide aisles encourage customers to power-walk through them to an intended destination, while narrow aisles encourage customer browsing, potentially increasing impulse purchases. However, if aisles are too narrow they can become clogged, creating an unpleasant shopping experience and encouraging customers to leave the store. Narrow aisles can also make it difficult for people counting sensors to accurately measure customer volumes.

Careful analysis of the data from people counting solutions can provide retailers with valuable insights about finding not only an optimum aisle width, but also helping to determine the best product placements, promotional tactics, and staffing strategies to fit the retailer’s physical locations and overall business strategy.