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Best Customer Counters for Store Capacity Limits

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.

The Benefits of People Counting Systems

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.

Benefits of Time of Flight Sensors 

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 Traf-Sys SafeCount occupancy counter uses Vector 4D time of flight tracking technology. Unlike other trackers for marketing metrics, this system and software are built for capacity counting. It’s an easy-to-install solution that can be out of the box and ready to go in 30 minutes. It can also count staff members separately from customers, using anonymous lanyards.

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. SafeCount is for small businesses with one entrance and exit. For larger stores, we recommend using SafeCountPlus at every doorway to collect integrated data.

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 SafeCount 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. 

We have the ideal occupancy counting technology for your retail environment and budget, and we’re happy to discuss options with you. Start comparing people counting systems and request your free quote today.

How to Improve Service With Customer Queues

Long lines cost retailers a collective $37.7 billion a year. They’re also the element of your customers’ shopping experience that they’re least happy with. Only 23% of shoppers say they are satisfied with the length of the lines at their preferred supermarket. Meanwhile, 18% of shoppers say they’ll choose a competing grocery store for a better checkout experience and a shorter queue.

Queuing plays a significant role in the customer experience — more than retailers previously thought. Finding ways to manage lines and create the best customer queuing system can have a considerable impact on how long customers wait and improve your ability to serve customers. We’ve created this overview of the processes, tools and tricks you can use to enhance your customers’ queuing experience.

What Are Customer Queues?

Customer queues exist throughout your supermarket or retail store. Checkout aisles and service desks are two prime examples. Grocery stores may have additional, miniature lines at the deli or seafood counters. Take-a-number systems, often used in those departments, create customer queues without asking patrons to stand in a single file.

Meanwhile, department stores might create checkout queues for popular departments, making it easier for customers to find the checkout counter and wait in a shorter line. Anywhere where your customers have to line up to receive service in an orderly fashion counts as a customer queue. However, not all queues involve standing in line, in the traditional sense. You may have experienced a digital customer queue if you’ve ever waited to connect with a customer service agent online.

Customer queues have been a staple of retail and most in-person, service-based industries. Patients wait in a less-obvious customer queue at the hospital or doctor’s office. In this case, the line is disguised as a waiting room, with the queuing happening in the back office as nurses prepare exam rooms and keep a list of arrivals at the check-in counter. Restaurants employ customer queuing during busy times as diners wait to be seated. Dining facilities have found ways to improve the waiting experience by giving customers a call or text when their table is ready.

Queuing isn’t always first-come, first-serve. In stores, where most queuing involves customers physically standing in line, the order is determined by the speed of checkout lanes. This phenomenon is one of retail’s main concerns when it comes to customer queues. When lines are organized into parallel rows, some can get held up. Larger basket sizes, slow equipment or an issue requiring a manager’s attention can hold up the line for one register. This clog leads the lanes on either side to move faster. Customers become frustrated when they see people who arrived after them being served before them in the lines nearby. So, how can retailers resolve this and all the issues that lead to unbearable wait times?

Customer Behavior in the Queuing System

The first step to resolving issues in the waiting line is understanding the customer psychology that contributes to them. Your customers can spend over an hour leisurely comparing brands, browsing your aisles and generally enjoying the experience for it to be suddenly sullied by a seven-minute wait at checkout. Here are some of the consumer behaviors at play in your checkout aisles:

  • Jockeying: Also known as queue jumping, jockeying involves customers switching lines to avoid long waits. A non-retail example of this is traffic congestion on the highway. Many drivers see the lane next to them moving faster than the one they are in and will switch from lane to lane to try to go more quickly. Studies show that lane-switchers worsen traffic jams. Motorists will become more frustrated when the lane they’ve joined ends up moving more slowly than the one they came from. In a retail setting, jockeying will decrease the wait time for the starting line while adding to the wait time at the new line. Just as in traffic, shoppers are often bad at judging how fast a queue will move, and sometimes wait longer than if they stayed in place.
  • Balking: After seeing a long line, some customers will choose not to wait at all. There are two leading causes of balking. First, the queue may be so long there is no place to wait. Second, the customer may anticipate an unpleasant wait time and choose not to buy anything at all. Balking costs your store revenue through reduced conversions. Among your balkers are a group of people who have done all the work to find the items and decide to buy them only to reverse course before making it to the register. As a secondary issue, balkers may be more likely to put merchandise back incorrectly and create more work for your team. Unlike lines in amusement parks, which promise excitement and thrill at the end, stores must find ways to convince people to wait.
  • Reneging: Similar to balking, some customers will get in line and then, after waiting for a few minutes, decide to leave. Line abandonment leads to lost conversions just feet before the checkout. Finding ways to streamline the checkout process to shave the waiting time by only a few minutes can prevent this profit-eating behavior. Ensuring the lines move quickly and appear efficient, even when long, can help avoid reneging.

Ways to Manage Customer Service and Checkout Queues

A fast-moving queue prevents many of the revenue drains created by long lines. The right system will improve the organization of your queues and how your staff handles them. For example, one effective process would involve a cashier calling over patrons from a long line. The key to superior queuing is to reduce both actual and perceived wait time. Reducing wait times saves everyone time and increases store productivity. Lowering perceived wait times boosts customer satisfaction, even if the wait doesn’t change.

Types of Customer Queues

The good news is that the way you design your line can impact the wait time and how it feels to customers. Here are some strategies for your customer queuing system:

  • Serpentine line: The serpentine line is deceptively long and moves much faster than parallel checkout lanes found at many supermarkets. Instead, a set of checkout stations sit in front of a long, snaking line. These lines are often managed with a set of belt stanchions or shelves to create a space-saving S shape. Whichever register completes a transaction first calls the next customer to checkout. This system eliminates a holdup at one register from affecting other customers, reducing wait times overall. Many retailers find the serpentine line design speeds up their queues and helps customers leave happy. It also operates on the principle of first-come, first-served. The model appeals to people’s psychological desire for fairness. Even if wait times are only slightly shorter, shoppers recognize that they are being served in the order in which they came. They also have no shorter, faster line to compare their experience to. The one downside to this model is that customers may balk at the size of the line.
  • Prioritized lines: Many customer queues serve certain customers over others to improve wait times. A typical example of this is during airline boarding procedures. Splitting passengers into groups shortens the perceived wait times since each line is shorter. It also allows VIP customers, those who spend more money with the airline, to be served more quickly. While the prioritization strategy doesn’t have the same applications in retail, the express lane serves a similar purpose. However, express lanes are better at reducing perceived wait times than actual wait times. One study found that it takes cashiers a fixed 41 seconds to greet each customer and receive payments. Then, it’s only an additional three seconds per item. So, an express lane with 10 people will likely move slower than another lane with three people.
  • Sign-in to wait online: An innovation in the world of retail is appointment-based checkouts. Instead of asking customers to physically stand in line, they sign in at a kiosk or through their mobile phones. They are then given a checkout time or a selection of times to choose from. So, instead of holding their spot in line, customers can browse freely. A kiosk at the front door lets customers “wait in line” while they shop. An app can even allow your customers to sign up for a checkout slot before leaving the house. It’s like a take-a-number system for the digital world. A few downsides to this method is that with a set checkout time, customers may be discouraged from shopping at a leisurely pace and become less likely to add impulse buys to their carts. On the other hand, if the wait time is a bit longer, they may end up doing more of this browsing.
  • No line: Some retailers have decided to end the checkout line altogether. Retail’s no-line pioneers have associates checkout customers through portable card readers throughout the store. Now, retailers of all stripes can try removing the queue. Through a card-enabled mobile app, customers can scan barcodes on their phones as they go. When they’re ready to checkout, shoppers head toward a special kiosk where they can bag items and have their purchase verified.

Tricks to Improve Wait Times

Of course, redesigning your checkout line isn’t the only way to manage customer queues. Here are a few tactics any grocer or retailer can use to speed up checkout lines:

  • Collect wait time analytics: The first step to improving wait times is understanding how long they are. Tracking how wait times respond to variables is crucial for strategic decision-making. Line wait time is complicated and dependent on many factors. A hold up at the register, like a declined credit card or a rewards card signup, is one factor. Basket sizes, the speed of the checkout clerk and the number of customers in line each play their parts.
  • Display wait times: Once you can track wait times, consider posting them on a dynamic display. Knowing how long the wait will be makes it feel shorter. It also reduces waiting anxiety since customers can tell just how long they will stand in line. The key to improving customer service is the line is to overestimate the time frames. If customers hear that the line will take five minutes and it ends up taking 10, they’re likely to become annoyed. On the flip side, if an estimated 15 minutes turns into seven, customers feel they’ve saved time.
  • Try in-line entertainment: Time spent idle will almost always feel longer than time spent engaged in a task. It’s why half an hour of browsing feels quick and half an hour waiting in line is intolerable. Stores combat this through the careful selection of add-on items at the register. Between enticing tabloids and an array of quick bites and knick-knacks, there’s plenty to grab shoppers’ eyes while they wait. Retailers can also place screens above the register, displaying dynamic, attention-grabbing ads. Free Wi-Fi can also help shoppers entertain themselves with their own devices while waiting in the queue.
  • Improve processes and training: The way your staff handles checkouts can also impact speeds. Ensure cashiers master all the functions on their register. Baggers should know the fastest methods for consolidating items. You can also reduce wait times by helping cashiers need fewer manager approvals for everyday scenarios.
  • Use modern technology: A broken scanner or a slow receipt printer can add time to every sale. Complicated self-checkout machines force every customer to master a slow, unintuitive device. The latest technology will be more accessible for both staff and customers and process transactions quickly. Further, modern point-of-sale technology will have time-saving features like contactless pay.

How to Use People Counters to Improve Customer Queues

People counters take an exact count of stores’ total daily visitors and reveal peak shopping times. Within the store, they root out bottlenecks and underused areas while mapping customer journeys. People counters are also crucial tools to control queues.

Measure Conversion Rates

First, you can use people counting systems to track total visitors against sales. Understanding your conversion rate also reveals how many people skipped the register. Then, footfall data helps you learn what sends customers out the door. In-depth customer research through surveys and other methods may reveal the problem is unavailability or poor selection. If beelines for the exit stem from the checkout waiting area, you then know the problem is inconvenient queues.

Resolve Wait Times With Occupancy Data

Once you identify customer queuing as a significant pain point for your patrons, you can use people counting to resolve it. The first way is through staff optimization. If you install a people counter, patterns about your busiest hours will soon emerge. These peak hours often don’t line up with what we predict. Many assume their peak hours align with the end of the workday when traffic sometimes spikes during lunch breaks.

Once you establish these weekly patterns, you can assign registers accordingly. By keeping the checkout lanes staffed during your expected rushes, you’re prepared to serve an influx of customers. Knowing your real traffic patterns prevents you from understaffing because you think it will be slow. As an added benefit, you don’t have to staff as many registers during your off-hours, saving on labor and allowing you to use your team more effectively.

Besides your historical occupancy data, you can also leverage live reporting to adjust your checkout staffing. The average amount of time spent per shopping trip is roughly 45 minutes, according to Pew Research. If you have a real-time capacity counting system, you find out about spikes in your current occupancy about 30 minutes before those customers get in line to check out. While your weekly analytics should cover the usual rushes, live occupancy counting can help you get ahead of unexpected ones to prevent long waits.

Customer Queuing and Social Distancing

The start of the COVID-19 outbreak marked a new era for grocery stores, suddenly deemed essential businesses. Stores struggled to keep up with the demand for cleaning products, soap and other essentials as customers stocked up to weather quarantines with unknown ends. Meanwhile, nonessential retailers closed their doors in wait of state reopening guidance. Stores must learn to balance social distancing with customer service. Inside the stores that remain open or that have reopened, changes in layout could mean one-way foot traffic. Floor markers line the walkways in 6-foot increments.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, customers are stuck in a new type of queue — the line to get in the store. As grocery and retail stores must limit capacity to 50% or even lower, lines form outside the doors as shoppers flock to buy essentials. That extra line is another bump in the customer journey, where long waits translate into poor experience. It’s a second tollgate where you face balkers and renegers. Some crowdsourced apps let shoppers check the wait times for various retailers. So, a long entry queue could be sending customers who never even see the line to your competition.

Social Distancing and the Checkout Queue

To maintain capacity, the next customer in line must wait until another shopper exits. The “one in, one out” system means the checkout line’s speed reflects the pace of the entry line pretty closely. So, boosting speeds at checkout will naturally improve the experience at the entrance.

One potential hangup is that 59% of consumers report using self-checkout more to protect themselves. These systems need to be cleaned often and can be slower if the technology confuses people. Even if your store uses parallel registers, a socially-distanced serpentine line for self-checkout can help. Also, keeping plenty of staff available to deal with technical issues can speed things up.

Other measures, like curbside pickup, can help you maintain correct social distancing by limiting the number of customers who enter the store. It works similarly to a digital sign-in system, where customers can book a time to have their items brought out to them. The waiting happens from the comfort of home rather than in a line.

Social Distancing and the Entrance Queue

Using a people counting system for capacity limits can be useful at your front doors. For example, the Traf-Sys SafeEntry software will display your current capacity limit and the number of “safe to admit” patrons. Meanwhile, the easy-to-install SafeCount system counts people entering through all doorways with precision and accuracy. Employees know who to allow inside, and customers receive clear communication in-queue. This system can ease customers and help them gauge how long they’ll need to wait.

The software also has the benefit of calculating your store’s busiest times. Since 66% of consumers say they now prefer to shop at slower times, information on your peaks is vital. Displaying this data in-store can be another service you provide to your customers. Further, posting your quietest hours can encourage more of your shoppers to visit then. By funneling more of your customers into your uncongested shopping times, you’ll keep capacity down at your busier times. It helps you maintain social distancing in-store while serving more of your customers quickly.

Use Traf-Sys People Counters to Improve Your Customer Queues

Traf-Sys people counting systems have helped retailers like you improve their queuing experience at the checkout with better footfall and occupancy counting. Our SafeEntry and SafeCount occupancy counting system provides a live report of your current occupancy, configured for every entrance. While SafeEntry provides an employee- and customer-facing interface for your live capacity count, SafeCount uses powerful overhead sensors to track customers entering and exiting. Accurate data helps you manage your entrance lines by letting in as many people as your limited capacity will allow, keeping customers happier and feeling safer.

For more information about our SafeEntry and SafeCount system or any of our customer counting solutions, request your free quote today.

How to Social Distance in the Workplace

Although the concept of social distancing, or maintaining space between people, is not new, the first time many people became familiar with the idea was during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing helps to reduce the risk of spread of the novel coronavirus and is believed to be an effective tool for lowering the rates of transmission in communities. While many businesses had to close their physical workplaces during the early phases of the pandemic, some did not or were not able to, as they were considered essential. As areas began the process of reopening, social distancing in the workplace became a requirement.

Your company might need to completely rearrange its layout and its operations to accommodate social distancing and keep your team members safe. Encouraging employees to keep physical distance from others and making it as easy as possible to keep that distance is vital for workers’ and customers’ safety during the pandemic and beyond.

Why Social Distancing Matters

What does social distancing mean? It means maintaining a certain amount of physical distance between yourself and others to slow down the spread of highly infectious diseases. Although one of the most common descriptions of social distancing is keeping at least 6 feet (2 meters) between yourself and other people, there are other ways to maintain social distance. Working from home, avoiding spending time in crowded areas, such as concerts or theaters, and not going out to cafes or restaurants are a few ways to practice social distancing.

There’s evidence from history that social distancing works. For example, during the 1918 influenza pandemic, many cities across the U.S. implemented social distancing measures, such as closing down churches and schools and prohibiting large gatherings of people. Experts believe cities that adopted social distancing measures early on, such as Kansas City, Milwaukee and San Francisco, were able to reduce transmission by up to 50%. The length of time that social distancing measures were in place also had an effect on the mortality rate.

Social distancing is particularly important for reducing the spread of illness when there aren’t known or effective treatments and when vaccines are not available. COVID-19 is far from the only infectious disease in the world, but it is one that doesn’t yet have an effective treatment, which makes limiting transmission particularly valuable. Although there are vaccines and treatments against the flu, and most people will recover from the common cold with ease, practicing social distancing during the cold and flu season can also be useful for slowing down the spread of those illnesses.

How Your Work Can Benefit From Social Distancing

Social distancing in the workplace offers multiple benefits to your company and your employees. For one thing, it helps to keep your team members safe and healthy. Taking steps to reduce the spread of disease means that your employees are less likely to become ill and that your company is less likely to experience an outbreak.

Encouraging or requiring social distancing in the workplace can also help people feel more at ease about coming back to work after a period of working remotely. For employees who need to interact with the public or with a large number of people each day, having social distancing measures in place can help them feel more confident about their safety. When employees feel cared for and respected on the job, they are more likely to stay with an employer.

Having a high employee retention rate saves your company time and money. It is time-consuming and expensive to hire new team members. Having a revolving door of employees is also not good for overall morale, meaning people might be less invested in their jobs and less likely to provide top-quality work or best-quality customer service if they see that their co-workers are regularly quitting.

Social distancing measures also allow your company to remain open during a pandemic. Without the appropriate social distancing efforts, your business might have to close or dramatically limit the services it offers. Encouraging your team and your customers to keep their distance means you can continue to provide your product or service for as long as possible.

7 Tips for Maintaining Social Distancing in the Workplace

Putting social distancing measures into practice can mean changing your company’s approach to operations. It can also mean rearranging the furniture and setting up new workplace guidelines to keep everyone safe. Here are a few social distancing tips to help you.

1. Stagger Shifts

It’s easier to practice social distancing when there are few people in an area at any one time. If a typical, pre-social distancing workday at your business required everyone to be in the office or building during the same hours, it can be worthwhile to introduce staggered shifts. Instead of having everyone come in from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., have one group of employees come in from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and the next group from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m.  Another option is to have employees take turns working from home. Employee A can be in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while Employee B works from home. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Employee B can be in the office while Employee A works from home.

If working from home isn’t feasible for your business or if you have limited hours during which you can operate, there are other ways to stagger shifts. You can ask employees to trade off shifts. For example, if you are a restaurant that is open for takeout on weekend evenings, Employee A can work on the first and third weekends of the month while Employee B works on the second and fourth weekends.

If your company can operate long enough each day to have multiple shifts, be sure you allow time between each shift for thorough cleaning of the workplace. Along with limiting face-to-face interactions between your employees, cleaning shared spaced and high-touch surfaces is important if you want to reduce the transmission of disease.

2. Use Visual Markers and Reminders

What does 6 feet of space look like in practice? It can be challenging for people to get a sense of whether they are standing too near to another, especially if they don’t have a tape measure handy. Make it easy for your team to see what 6 feet looks like by adding visual markers to the floor or walls. You can use the markers anywhere people might need to form a line, such as outside of the restrooms or when waiting for elevators.

Visual markers are also a must-have if your business is open to the public. Retailers can use pieces of tape to help shoppers see where they should stand when they are waiting in line to pay for their items. Applying tape or decals to the floor can also help people see where to stand when they are picking out items in the store’s aisles.

In addition to visual markers, it can be helpful to hang up signs that gently remind people to practice social distancing and other measures to reduce the spread of illness. Signs on restroom doors can remind people to wash their hands before they leave the room, for instance.

Along with handwashing signs, you can hang up notices to remind people to keep their distance from their co-workers or customers. You can make the signs fun and informative. For example, grocery stores can use images that depict two shopping carts standing between two individuals to help people get a sense of what 6 feet looks like.

3. Install People Counters

In many states, reopening guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic require businesses to dramatically reduce the occupancy of their buildings or workplaces. Stores that were previously able to hold 300 people might be limited to letting in 75 or 100 people at a time. Restaurants that once had seating for 100 might only be allowed to serve 25 diners at once.

In an era when social distancing is critical, it’s vital that your business goes out of its way to keep track of the number of people who come and go. You don’t need to station a team member at the door to manually count the people enter and exit. Occupancy tracking software and people counters streamline the process for you. The software counts people as they come into the business and as they leave. It gives you a real-time view of the number of people in your building at any time. It also lets you compare the number of people in the workplace to the maximum occupancy allowed. You can then make decisions about admitting more customers, visitors or employees to the building or asking them to wait until occupancy drops.

4. Rethink In-Person Meetings

During times when social distancing is needed, avoid in-person meetings as much as possible. If your company typically holds a monthly or weekly all-hands meeting in the conference room or assembly room, consider making it a virtual meeting instead. Employees can log on to the event from their respective workspaces, either in the building or from their homes. The virtual meetings will give your company a chance to share what’s going on and to catch up with your team without putting anyone at risk.

There might be times when an in-person meeting is unavoidable. If that is the case, use extra caution when you prepare for the meeting. Limit the number of people who attend based on the size of the room it will take place in. Space the chairs in the meeting area so that they are at least 6 feet apart. Skip handshakes and other physical forms of greeting at the start and end of the meeting.

To be extra safe, you might ask everyone who needs to attend a meeting in person to wear a mask during it, especially if there will be more than two or three people in the room and especially if it will be tough to keep 6 feet of space between every participant.

Also, limit the length of any face-to-face meetings. Try to keep things under 15 minutes to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission.

5. Create Adequate Space Between Work Stations

Social distancing isn’t only for when employees might pass each other in the hallways or for customers who are browsing in your store or eating in a restaurant. Office workers also need their space. If your company has an open layout, rearrange the desks so they are at least 6 feet apart. Now is a good time to introduce partitions between work areas, such as cubicle walls. If your company’s office space is already divided into cubicles, consider raising the height of the partitions so they are taller than people. You can add plexiglass barriers to the top of the cubicle walls to extend their height.

If your company’s floor plan previously featured communal work tables, you have a few options for increasing the distance between workers who use them. Option one is to get rid of the tables entirely and to give each team member their own desk. Option two is to keep the tables, but rearrange them so that no one is within 6 feet of another person. Remove chairs and use tape to mark 6-foot areas on each table. It might also be worthwhile to set up barriers between each work area on the tables, as well. If employees are going to continue to share tables, make sure they are cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.

Stores and restaurants can find ways to increase space between work areas, as well. A store that has multiple checkout areas can use every other register. Leaving one register empty between workers helps them keep their distance from each other. It also helps to protect customers, as they are not lining up too close to shoppers in the queue next to them.

Restaurants that have multiple seating areas can limit the number of areas they use at once. Limiting seating areas will most likely be necessary for restaurants that need to follow stricter occupancy rules as part of social distancing. Individual tables in each seating area should be positioned so they are the proper distance apart, based on guidelines from the local public health department.

6. Limit Use of Common Areas

Employers might need to rethink the break room if they want to follow social distancing measures. The best way to encourage social distancing at work is to close off the breakroom and ask employees to socialize over Slack or video conferencing during their break periods. If that’s not a feasible option — for example, if employees have nowhere else to take their lunch break — then the break area should be set up to encourage physical distance between workers. Seating areas should be marked off so people are always at least 6 feet away from each other. You might also install occupancy monitors at the entrance of the break room so employees can see how many people are inside and if it is safe to go in.

Stores that sell clothing might need to rethink their approach to try-ons. One option is to prohibit customers from trying on garments in-store. Encourage people to buy the items they are interested in, try them on at home and return them if they aren’t a good fit. To make the situation more convenient for people, a store can extend the return period. If a store does decide to open fitting rooms, occupancy monitoring can help limit the number of people in the area at any time. If the fitting rooms are full, shoppers can be encouraged to take a remote buzzer and to continue browsing while they wait, instead of forming a line in a small area. When a room becomes available, the buzzer will alert the shopper and they can head back over to the fitting room.

In stores and offices, elevators are another area where social distancing can be challenging. Encourage people to take the stairs if they are capable of doing so. That way, the elevators will be left free for people who need them. Social distancing inside an elevator isn’t practical, so people should take them either one at a time or with other members of their household.

7. Encourage Packed Lunches

Social distancing in the workplace should also include encouraging people to social distance outside of the workplace. One way to do that is to ask people to bring a bagged lunch with them to work, rather than going out to eat in a restaurant or using the company cafeteria. Another way to limit employees’ contact with other people is to schedule shifts so that people are home for meals, rather than in the office or workplace.

An office worker might spend the morning at work, then leave at lunchtime and work the rest of their shift remotely.  Retail establishments and restaurants might decide to schedule employees for four-hour shifts or split their shifts up so there is a significant break in the middle of the day, giving them time to go home and eat.

Benefits of Installing People Counters in the Workplace

Although rearranging furniture to create more space between individuals at the workplace will help encourage social distancing, the best way to ensure that there is plenty of room between individuals is to control the number of people who are inside an area at any one time. Whether you need to practice social distancing in an office, store or restaurant, people counters eliminate the need to manually count individuals as they enter and exit.

Beyond helping with social distancing, people counters offer additional benefits to workplaces. Retail establishments can compare the data captured by the devices to the amount of sales they have in a day or week to track a correlation between the number of people who enter a store and the value of the store’s sales. Tracking the number of customers who come into a store or restaurant daily can also help those companies determine how many staff members to have on the floor at a given time.

Non-profit organizations can use the data collected by people counting devices when applying for grants and other sources of funding. The data collected can provide proof of the need or demand for a particular organization’s services. For example, a library can use the information provided by people counting software to argue for a grant to pay for a renovation or expansion or to allow the library to remain open for longer hours on certain days.

Traf-Sys Can Help Your Company Practice Social Distancing

Social distancing in the workplace involves two things: increasing physical space between employees and customers and limiting the number of people in an area at any time. The number of people who can be in your office building, store or restaurant depends in large part on the size of the space and the occupancy limits set up by your city or county.

Keeping track of how many people are inside your workplace at any time is key to social distancing. Traf-Sys offers people counters that keep track of the number of people who come into a building or designated zone and the number who leave. The counters can be installed at each entrance and exit to give you an accurate sense of how many people are in an area at any time. If your company needs to keep track of the number of individuals in a zone to make sure you are complying with occupancy requirements, people counters let you compare the number of bodies in a room or area to the maximum allowed. Using that information, you can let new people come in or ask them to wait outside until someone leaves.

If you need a way to quickly and easily keep track of the number of people in your space, take a look at our product line to see how we can help. We’re also available to answer any questions you have or to help you choose the software program and hardware that will best meet your needs. Contact us today for a free quote.


Tips for Using Foot Traffic Counters in Grocery Stores

As COVID-19 continues to spread within the United States, 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

Essential New Guidelines for Grocery Store Owners

Retail and food stores must first determine what guidelines they should be following. Two federal agencies are spearheading the regulatory response to COVID-19: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The FDA is primarily concerned with the safety of products and employees involved with food preparation, while the CDC is providing guidelines for employers as a whole.  

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 as a response to COVID-19.

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. The emergence of COVID-19 has upended 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.

Leveraging a foot traffic counter to provide a better customer experience is key to retaining customers in a time where many are willing to change retailers as a response to a poor experience.

Steps Grocery Owners Can Take to Follow New Guidelines

Staying within COVID-19 guidelines is a multi-step process. 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:

  • General hygiene
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Cloth face coverings
  • Use of personal protection equipment (PPE)
  • Stress management
  • COVID-19 symptoms and 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) for use against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Stores should undergo a thorough cleaning at least once every 24 hours, and disinfecting procedures should see these surfaces sanitized more frequently:

  • Cashier stations
  • Self-checkout stations
  • Credit card terminals
  • Conveyor belts
  • Shelves
  • Restrooms
  • Shopping carts and baskets

The CDC’s framework for cleaning and sanitizing is based on three practices:

  1. Routine cleaning using soap and water.
  2. Disinfection with EPA-approved products, including ready-to-use sprays, wipes and concentrates.
  3. 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 possibility that employees may contract COVID-19 increases the chances of having multiple call-outs and extended absences due to illness. Additionally, 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 With COVID-19 Guidelines?

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:

  1. Overhead vs. horizontal: Foot traffic sensors can either be mounted in the ceiling or on both sides of a doorway. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  • Traffic density
  • 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.

How to Open Your Store With Social Distancing Guidelines

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.

While each state will develop a unique reopening strategy, the Federal Government’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again breaks down reopening guidelines into three phases. Here’s how each stage applies to retail stores and restaurants:

Phase One

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.

Phase Two

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.

Phase Three

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.

2. Look at Guidelines for Your Industry

For recommendations, support and advice specific to your industry, consult your industry associations. The National Restaurant Association® issued COVID-19 reopening guidance for restaurant operators. Likewise, the National Retail Federation® released a reopening checklist and other resources for nonessential retailers.

3. Develop a Plan for Social Distancing

The CDC recommends social distancing measures be in place to reopen your business. Social distancing means customers and employees should:

  • Stay at least 6 feet apart.
  • Not gather in groups.
  • Avoid crowds and mass gatherings.

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.
  • Disinfect all frequently-touched surfaces with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectant.
  • 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.

5. Develop a Plan for At-Risk Employees

People who are at higher risk of severe illness include:

  • Older adults aged 65 or older.
  • 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.

Cleaning Supplies

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.

Signage

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.

Learn more about how our people counters work or request a quote today.

How To Limit Store Capacity Levels

With the current health crisis, retailers have had to reevaluate many of their practices and respond quickly to continuously changing regulations as the situation develops. To prevent crowds from forming, stores are faced with the need to limit occupancy. This may seem like a daunting task, but with the right strategy and tools, you can effectively set and enforce a capacity limit at your store and protect your employees and customers.

Read the full guide or jump to a specific section: 

COVID-19 and the Need to Limit Occupancy

The need to monitor a store’s capacity is not new. All stores have a maximum occupancy rating. Generally, retail establishments must limit the occupancy to one person per every 60 square feet of space. Access to exits can also influence a building’s maximum occupancy rating. This is to ensure everyone in the building could safely exit in the event of a fire. Even if you’ve never thought much about your store’s maximum occupancy in the past, you might be thinking about it now.

The spread of COVID-19 has caused many businesses to close their storefronts for the time being, but some stores, considered essential, have remained open and have had to determine how to continue serving customers while maintaining social distancing requirements. Some stores that closed temporarily are in the process of reopening and now have to grapple with how to keep their employees and customers safe as the virus continues to pose a threat.

Along with other measures like thoroughly cleaning your store regularly and offering hand sanitizing stations, one of the best ways for stores to keep customers and employees safe is to encourage social distancing. The CDC specifies that people should stay 6 feet apart to avoid passing the virus. That directive becomes impossible in a crowded store, which is why it is imperative for stores to limit the number of people inside at once. With fewer people, it becomes far more feasible to keep a safe distance between shoppers.

Some of the nation’s largest retailers have set an example in limiting their store’s occupancy to encourage safer shopping conditions. Grocery store occupancy restrictions due to COVID-19 have become commonplace. For some stores, state mandates require even more stringent measures. Certain states have required stores to limit their capacity to 20% or 25%. In these cases, stores must be especially careful to monitor the number of shoppers in their store at once.

In addition to complying with government directives, retailers should also seek to take any measures necessary to create an environment that allows customers to shop without worrying that they’ll contract the virus from other shoppers crowding the aisles. Even though people may avoid social gatherings or crowds of any kind, as we’ve seen, many people have flooded stores to stock up on essentials. In these situations, it is up to your business to keep the store from becoming overly crowded. We’re going to explore the best ways to do that.

How to Set a Store Capacity Limit

If your state has not already imposed a specific rule for store occupancy levels, you’ll need to make this determination on your own. There are a few different ways you can determine the appropriate capacity limit to set for your store. There are two basic approaches most stores use to set a new capacity limit:

  • People per square footage: One approach is to determine the number of people you can safely accommodate per the amount of square footage in your building. For example, Walmart Stores have chosen to limit their occupancy to a maximum of five customers for every 1,000 square feet of their buildings.
  • Percent of standard occupancy limit: Another way to approach this task is to look to the existing fire code occupancy rating and multiply it by a certain percentage. This is a simple way to reduce the number of people you could normally have in your store to a fraction such as 50%, 30% or whatever number makes sense for your store.

Simple formulas can be an easy way to arrive at a new occupancy number for your store, but it’s also wise to consider your store’s specific layout to ensure you don’t settle on a number that is too high to adequately encourage social distancing or one that is unnecessarily restrictive.

Consider factors such as how much of your square footage is open space for shoppers to navigate your store, whether there are more popular areas that could become overly concentrated and how many checkout lanes you can have open.

You should also factor in any added responsibilities your employees are taking on and ensure you only let in a manageable number of shoppers that will allow employees to stay on top of these responsibilities. For example, if you plan to disinfect carts after each use, you’ll want to make sure you don’t become overwhelmed with the number of carts that need to be disinfected.

Ultimately, you understand your facility, your employees, and your shoppers best. So, if you’re allowed to set your own capacity limit, use your judgment and as much data as you have at your disposal to arrive at a limit that makes sense for your store. If you set a limit that turns out to be too high or too low, don’t hesitate to adjust and notify shoppers of the change, thanking them for their patience.

How to Monitor the Number of People in Your Store

For a capacity limit to be useful, you must closely monitor the number of people in your store. Once you reach capacity, you must only admit shoppers as others leave to stay within the capacity limits you have set. But how can you count every person who comes in and goes out of your store? You have two main options: manually counting or using an occupant monitoring system.

Option 1: Manual Counting

To manually count the people in your store, you must have an employee stationed at the door at all times. This means you must only use one entrance and exit into your store, closing any others you might normally have open. An employee must remain at the door at all times, tallying up the number of people who walk in, and simultaneously subtracting the number of people who walk out to keep the total number of people inside accurate at all times.

They can count the people who come and go entirely in their head, or they can use a handheld tally counter device with a button to click each time you need to add one and a button to subtract one from the total. If you’re going to count manually, these devices will make it more feasible.

It’s easy to see how this method has some serious downsides. For one, an employee will have a full-time job just counting people, making this a costly way to monitor foot traffic. It also allows plenty of room for human error since a single lapse in attention or mental math error can throw off the accuracy of the occupancy count. Overall, manual counting is an option you should only resort to in a pinch.

A cloud-based solution, SafeEntry, works with existing mobile phones, tablets, or computers to effectively manage occupancy counts. Through the use of the SafeEntry portal, simply station one team member at each entrance or exit location. The team member inputs the in and out traffic into their phone or tablet and SafeEntry automatically combine the in and out traffic from all entrances so all members can view occupancy counts in real-time. Additional advantages of SafeEntry include:

  • No additional hardware or installation necessary
  • Set your own occupancy limits
  • Real-time occupancy counts provide alerts on when it is “safe to admit” more patrons
  • Unlimited numbers of entrances
  • Low monthly subscription rate
  • Stay compliant with COVID-19 occupancy limits

Option 2: Occupancy Counter

A more effective method to measure store traffic is to use an occupancy counter, also known as a people counter. With an occupancy counter, there’s no need for manual counting. Instead, the system uses technology to track people coming and going from your store automatically. Typically, this technology is infrared, thermal or video-based.

In the case of an infrared sensor, when the beam is broken, the system knows a person has passed through, and that person is added to the occupancy count for your store. Thermal people counters can detect body heat, which allows them to detect the multidimensional movement from multiple people passing through at once. Video occupancy counters detect people who come and go through video and can provide sophisticated data.

You mount the occupancy counter at the entrance and exit of your store and allow it to do the work. The data goes to a software application. You can choose to record this data at the end of the day or in more frequent increments. When you want to monitor occupancy throughout the day, you can track this data in real-time. Occupancy counters take the guesswork and the inconvenience of manual counting out of occupancy monitoring.

Make monitoring occupancy levels simple with the Traf-Sys SafeEntry or SeafeCount occupancy counters. Request a free quote today!

The Benefits of Using an Occupancy Counter

There are important benefits you can capitalize on when you install a people counter at your business, both for the immediate circumstances tied to COVID-19 and in the long term. Some of these benefits include:

  • Compliance with official regulations: One key benefit of using an occupancy counter is that it can greatly assist you in abiding by whatever regulations the federal, state or local government has imposed. Without a way to monitor the number of people in your store, you cannot reliably abide by these restrictions, which could lead to negative consequences such as fines.
  • Automated counting: If you need to track the number of customers in your store, as we’ve seen, the alternative to using an occupancy counter is to count manually. This requires an employee to be stationed at the door at all times to count. This may not be a practical option for you. Having a system keep count automatically is far more convenient.
  • Accurate monitoring: Another problem with a person counting is that it can result in an inaccurate count. Especially when you’re trying to keep track of everyone coming and going, you are bound to miss some people. With the right occupancy counter, you can keep an accurate tally at all times of how many people are in your store.
  • Demonstrated care for customers: Closely monitoring the number of people in your store demonstrates a level of care and concern for your community and your customers that will help your company’s reputation during a time when businesses are often under a greater degree of scrutiny than usual.
  • Insightful data on sales: In addition to the immediate benefits of occupancy monitoring for coronavirus-related concerns, an occupancy counter can also provide data on the comings and goings of customers, which can help you learn more about your conversion rates, the effectiveness of marketing efforts and more.
  • Data to help optimize layout and staff: Occupancy data from a people counter can also help you make more informed decisions about the best ways to deploy your staff and to layout your store. You can install bi-directional occupancy counters in specific departments or areas in your store to gain insight into the traffic patterns that occur throughout your store.

How to Choose the Right Counter for COVID-19 Occupancy Restrictions

Not all people counters work just as well for restricting your occupancy for social distancing purposes. Here are some things you want to look for when choosing a people counter to help you keep people safe during this difficult time:

1. Bi-Directional Counting

Some systems cannot distinguish from people entering or exiting your store. With these options, you must divide the total number of people to pass the sensor during the day in half to determine how many people visited your store over the day.

While this option may work when you are looking to record occupancy data for other purposes, this technology is inadequate when you need to closely monitor the number of shoppers in the store throughout the day to stay within a capacity limit. In this case, you’re better off choosing a bi-directional counter, which can detect whether people are walking in or out. These occupancy counter sensors use infrared technology to detect the direction of a person’s movement.

2. Real-Time Reporting

You also want to choose a system that can use software to provide real-time data on the number of people in your store. Look for software that is user-friendly and will make it convenient to check up on your store’s occupancy throughout opening hours. Daily or hourly reports on the number of shoppers at your store aren’t enough in this instance.

3. Customization Options

You also want a system that allows you to customize settings. This way, you can tailor the system to meet your current needs and alter the settings in the future to adapt as changes come. Look for software that allows you to set customized occupancy limits and to choose whether to include or exclude employees from occupancy counts.

4. Customer-Facing Display

In addition to your user interface, you may also want a display your customers can view. A customer-facing screen at your store’s entrance can display the number of people inside according to your counter and can use your customized limit to inform customers if there is room for them to enter or if the store is currently full.

Even if the store is not yet at capacity, providing customers with the number of people inside will allow them to make an informed decision they’re comfortable with as to whether they should enter. This is an excellent way to show care for your customers during a time that can be especially challenging and scary for many.

5. Quick and Easy Installation

Because of the urgency of our current health crisis, you want to be able to implement occupancy solutions quickly. This means you should choose a system that is fast and easy to install. An out-of-box system you can install yourself in under an hour is ideal. You want to start accurately counting customers right away so you can demonstrate your commitment to public health and safety.

social distancing markers for 6 feet apart

How to Enforce a Store Capacity Limit

Once you know the capacity limit you’re going to set for your store and you have a way to track the number of people who come and go, you need to develop a plan for how you will enforce your store’s capacity limit. After all, just knowing there are too many shoppers in your store won’t help anyone. You have to restrict access to your store once you’ve hit your capacity to prevent overcrowding.

Once you see from your occupancy counter dashboard that you’ve reached your store’s capacity level, have an employee go to the door to direct traffic. As people approach, your store associate can politely inform them that the store is currently full but they’ll be admitted shortly, as soon as there is room.

To facilitate social distancing, mark areas 6 feet apart on the sidewalk in front of your store’s entrance so people can line up and wait their turn to enter. It’s smart to include signage in this area about the steps your store is taking to keep customers safe.

Enforcing your store’s restrictions on occupancy does require an employee’s time, but unlike manual counting, this employee only needs to be stationed at the door when the store is full. If there are only 30 shoppers in your store, and the limit you’ve set is 70, then there’s no need to monitor the entrance.

Other Steps to Encourage Social Distancing at Your Store

In addition to limiting your store’s capacity level, you can also implement other strategies to help encourage social distancing in your store. Some additional steps to consider taking include:

  • Limiting families: Some retailers have lamented the problem of entire families accompanying each other on a shopping trip, resulting in more crowding. If this is a problem at your store, you can request or require that only a certain number of people from one family come together. For example, you could implement a one or two people per cart rule. Costco chose to admit only two family members per membership card at a time.
  • One-way movement: Especially if your aisles are relatively narrow, you may want to implement one-way movement in your aisles. You can do this by placing arrow decals on the floor to show shoppers which way to enter and exit the aisle. This can help prevent shoppers from coming into close contact from passing each other in the aisle.
  • Floor markers at checkout: To prevent customers from standing close together in line waiting to check out, you can place markers on the floor or place signs every 6 feet apart to show shoppers where to stand. Visual markers like this can help shoppers who may be unsure of how far apart they need to stand.
  • Signage and announcements: Placing signs throughout your store or playing announcements over the loudspeaker can be a helpful way to remind shoppers of best practices for safe shopping. Simple reminders can be enough to help shoppers remember to be careful when they may otherwise feel overwhelmed and forget to stay vigilant.

Monitor Your Store Capacity and Stay Within Limits With SafeCount Software

Occupancy restrictions from COVID-19 can be challenging, but with the right tools, you can meet this challenge head-on and reap many benefits in the long term for your business. If you need to implement a people counting system, Traf-Sys Inc. has a range of hardware and software to meet your needs.

Our SafeCount software is an ideal solution for stores responding to coronavirus concerns. You can install this turnkey solution in just 30 minutes and immediately begin enjoying the benefits of accurate counting and insightful data. Contact us today to learn more about how Traf-Sys can help you monitor your store’s capacity level.

5 Key Elements of Using Footfall Analytics

Physical stores and facilities are relevant and going strong. In 2019,90 percent of retail store shopping still occurred in physical stores. Whether you operate a casino, retail store or student union, you can gain priceless insights from footfall analytics. The data provided will help you develop new plans for your business, better understand your customer base and identify areas that need growth.

In this guide, you’ll find information about what footfall analytics is and why the best businesses use it, plus the five key elements that make footfall analytics such a powerful tool for companies.

What Is Footfall Analytics? 

So, what does footfall mean? Whether you’re in the world of business, education or retail, footfall is defined as a measurement of how many people enter a facility. As such, footfall analytics is an advanced method for counting people who enter a store and developing insights from that info. Essentially, it’s counting technology crafted to give people an insight into customer habits and other relevant information. 

In the past, companies stationed employees at the entrance of their store to count the number of people who walked through their doors. Often, these employees would have a clicker in hand to keep track of all the people entering and report their count at the end of their shift.

This older method has some downsides, as it’s very time consuming and forces staff members to stay rooted at the door to ensure they get an accurate count. Additionally, manual counting opens up the possibility of human error, with staff members becoming distracted or entering inaccurate numbers from time to time. 

Footfall analytics builds on the traditional ways of counting people who enter your store by using technology to take the place of human counters. Besides just counting and tracking how many people enter their store, footfall analytics provides companies a variety of other insights. Some of these insights include information about what customers look at in your store, how they browse your store, whether they leave your store frustrated or satisfied, and information about customer psychology.

There are a variety of ways companies generate their footfall data. One popular method of collecting footfall data about people entering a store and how they navigate it relies on gathering data from WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. These types of smartphones emit a ping while they try to find a device or router they can connect to. Some footfall analytic hardware can pick up these pings and track the shopper as they make their way through your building.

In a building, footfall analytic systems count people who enter, along with establishing where those people go while in your store or facility. This information can tell you, for example, the types of products that people tend to buy together and which areas of a store get the most traffic. Data like this can help you discover trends and take action on them.

Another popular way that businesses gather data is through the use of people-counting sensors at the front of the store. These sensors are often placed at the top of the entrance, helping to track who enters and who walks by. The sensors are more accurate at tracking how many people enter the store, since they don’t need to rely on customers having a smartphone that’s Bluetooth and WiFi-enabled.

Why Use Footfall Analytics?

People use footfall analytics to help them measure key metrics and receive better insights into how their business is performing. If you’re unsure about why people invest in footfall analytics, consider the following benefits of using people counting systems and footfall analysis software:

  • Improves sales: Footfall analytics gives companies the ability to boost their sales and conversions. For example, a company might use heatmap data provided by a thermal imaging sensor to improve the layout of the store. Other options might include better-allocating staff during high-traffic time periods, developing personalized ads and product offerings based on the demographics of customers entering the store and adjusting your practices based on customers’ dwell times.
  • Promotes store personalization: While online stores often have the market share on gathering data and personalizing brand interactions with customers, footfall analytics give offline stores the ability to provide greater personalization opportunities for businesses. With the data, stores gain the opportunity to use behavior insights, like a customer’s age, gender, past purchase trends, and product preferences, to help them adjust their offerings and marketing materials. 
  • Encourages smarter staffing: Whatever kind of business you run, you want to get the most value out of your staff. For example, if you run a retail space, you don’t want to overstaff in times where people consistently don’t come into your store. You can reduce labor costs by planning your staff scheduling around peak hour analytics that tell you when the most customers are browsing. Store conversion ratios offered by footfall analytics also help reveal the effectiveness of staff and marketing campaigns.
  • Provides marketing insights:With advanced people counters, organizations and businesses can keep an eye on the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. For example, you might notice a spike in traffic after a new marketing campaign, indicating that it’s working. Besides just measuring an increase or decrease in footfalls after a marketing campaign, the gathered data can highlight if in-store ads for specific products increase dwell times and lead to an increased conversion ratio. 

Five Key Elements of Footfall Analytics

If you’re interested in adding footfall analytics to your business or organization, you should understand the primary elements that companies rely on to gain in-depth insight into several factors essential to a business’s success: 

1. Monitoring Campaign Success Is Crucial

One primary way that companies use footfall analytics is to determine how successful a marketing campaign is and see if there are any time periods when the campaign drove more traffic to your store. If sales go up, you can see if they were a result of higher traffic or from improved conversation rates, providing you with insights about the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

Having footfall analytics in your corner also gives your company the ability to look at how your company performs before, during and after a marketing campaign goes into effect. Does your traffic go up or down? Are customers staying in your store longer? You can find the answers to these questions and receive other insights by tracking who enters and where people tend to go while navigating your store.

You can gain even more data when your marketing campaign takes place inside your store. For example, you might have some in-store signs over products that you’re trying to highlight. With people counting devices throughout your store, you can determine where customers tend to stop and visit the most. With the data you gain, you might notice that your new ads are getting people’s attention, but ultimately aren’t helping to convert sales. 

The information you get from footfall analytics is one of the best ways you can evaluate the success of a variety of campaigns. Over time, you’ll have a large dataset to work with that helps you compare past and present advertising efforts. This kind of information about your marketing campaigns can help you gain in-depth insights about what does and doesn’t work for your customer base.

2. Various People Counters Exist to Examine Your Facility

There are a few different types of people counters on the market today. Some of the three main categories include video counters, thermal imaging counters, door counting sensors and WiFi people counters. To give you a better idea of your options and the kinds that are ideal for your needs, check out some of the top people counting systems offered by Traf-Sys:

  • Video counters: With a video counter, you can expect to monitor the amount of pedestrian traffic coming into your store while also receiving info about traffic in key monitoring places. Both the Eclipse People Counter and the Spectrum Series 3D People Counter use a video-based system to filter out unneeded information like children, baby strollers and carts that might prevent you from getting accurate data about your customer demographics. These video counters also feature extended coverage, remote capabilities and many more features.
  • Thermal imaging: Thermal imaging counters track body heat to determine the number of people in a space. While other counters are usually very accurate, thermal imaging is the gold standard for people counting. Unlike video counters, thermal counters will never be affected by lighting conditions that affect accuracy. Additionally, they’re effective in wide-open areas that more traditional counting sensors might struggle in. There are several Gazelle Series People Counters that companies rely on due to their accuracy, discreet ceiling mounting options and green operations.
  • Door counting sensors: Traditional door counting sensors are devices placed on the entrances to a store or another type of building. These sensors record how many people end up visiting your store throughout the day, providing you with accurate traffic statistics. The OmniCounter Pro Wireless is ideal for this function, as it features flexible mounting options, reliable counting capabilities and a non-intrusive design. 
  • WiFi people counters: WiFi people counters mounted on door-frames or walls can track pedestrian traffic as individuals cross a detection area. With the Z-Wifi Uni-Directional People Counter, users get the opportunity to access counting data remotely. Due to the sensing technology, this type of people counter won’t ever be thrown off by factors like size, ambient lighting or color. Additional software lets you turn your foot traffic data into actionable pieces of information.

3. Examine Which Traffic You Want to Capture

There are many different types of traffic, so you’ll need to determine which type will provide the most valuable data. For instance, do you want to capture door traffic counts per day or at shorter intervals? A full day might tell you some useful information that relates to your uptimes and downtimes, but you may already have a strong sense of this. Instead, you might want to hone in on a part of the day to find out who shops during that time.

As you determine the traffic data you want to capture, consider some of the top types of traffic that companies choose to pay special attention to:

  • Loyal versus new customers: Some footfall analytic technology allows you to track repeat customers. Knowing how often you receive new customers or attract old ones can tell you a lot about how well your company is doing at generating brand loyalty. As you focus on this type of traffic, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your longterm potential. If you’re only attracting new customers, your company might not last very long, since loyal customers are often the backbone of a business.
  • Number of people who walk by without entering: Not only will you want to track the traffic entering your store, but also the traffic passing by your store. By looking at how many people pass by — along with gaining some demographic information about those who don’t enter — your company can work on strategies for engaging new demographics and piquing the interests of those who were previously disinterested in your store.
  • Bounce rate: Are you pulling in customers, only to have them leave within the first few minutes? You may have a high bounce rate. This term refers to the number of visitors who leave your store within a few minutes without buying anything. Obviously, a lack of customer engagement poses a challenge to companies. Learning that your company has a high bounce rate can help your company determine why you’re attracting these potential customers only to lose them after they enter the store.
  • Average time visitors spend in your store: Other than determining how many potential customers are leaving your store quickly, you’ll also want to get data on the average time people spend in your store. This sort of traffic data information helps you understand your customers better. If you have sensors throughout your store, you can even track where in the store customers spend the most time, helping you develop new strategies for less-visited areas.

4. Footfall Data Often Talks for the Customers

If you’re trying to improve your store or business, it’s often a good idea to start planning your improvements around customer feedback. In an ideal world, you’d have the time and the resources to interview every customer, gathering data from them about what they like most about your store, what they would change and which products they especially enjoy, among other insights. For many years, businesses had to make guesses or rely on small sample sizes when adjusting their store. 

With footfall analytics, you get to interact with every customer, without having to stop to talk to them in person. A store outfitted with advanced people counting systems allows a company to gather data that provides crucial information about your customer without ever having to take the time to interview them. 

Footfall data can provide you feedback from all your visitors, showing you their interests and what they tend to ignore in your store or facility. You can use this data to improve your customer engagement significantly. For example, you might want to sell a particular product that does well with a younger demographic of 18 to 29-year-olds. 

By accessing your footfall data, you might know that middle-aged people tend to visit your store during weekdays, while your target demographics arrive in greater numbers over the weekend. To take advantage of this info, you can implement targeted advertisements for the product at the time, when it’s most likely that those in the target demographic will be visiting your store. 

Without having to guess or engage in lengthy interviews with customers, you’ll know when customers are going to want to see specific advertisements and what products will most appeal to them. This data lets you tailor your location to the desires of a consumer, potentially increasing customer engagement and creating a positive image of your organization in their minds. In short, footfall data lets you better understand your base of customers.

5. Superior Footfall Analytics Systems Go Beyond People Counting

Remember that any footfall analytic systems you choose to use should provide more data than just the number of people entering your business. The tech should measure a range of metrics, including unique vs. repeat customers, how many people walk by your store without entering, time spent in your store and where customers tend to gravitate in your facility.

If you just people count, you’re getting some useful information, but you’re missing out on a wealth of information that can help you optimize your business in a variety of areas, potentially raising revenue and increasing customer satisfaction. Consider that with a basic people counter, you’ll only know how many people enter your store, leaving out info about how many people end up buying something, if you’re generating customer loyalty and the amount of time each person spends in your store.

The information that a basic counter leaves out could be used to help you craft more impactful marketing campaigns and engage with your customers better. With advanced systems, you can tailor them to provide you with more information about key metrics that directly relate to your needs.

Though you might know you have a loyal customer base, you may be interested in figuring out which areas of your store loyal customers tend to avoid. Could you do a better job directing them to try some of your new products in these neglected areas? If you think you could convince repeat customers to branch out in what they typically purchase, you can track the success or failure of your attempts, as you keep a close eye on whether traffic increases in these often neglected areas. 

Investing in advanced people counting systems means you’re gaining the edge on the competition and better optimizing your stores. You’re sure to be impressed by the type of insights you gain from the data. Develop bold new strategies by going with footfall analytics systems that go beyond people counting.

Choose Traf-Sys for Your Footfall Analytics

Whether you want to know how to calculate footfall in a mall or a single store, you can trust Traf-Sys to set you up with the best hardware and software for your footfall analytic needs.  

As a company, we’ve established ourselves as traffic counting experts who take great pride in helping organizations increase conversion ratios, optimize labor, assist with project funding analysis and determine the success of marketing campaigns. We have a variety of people counting systems and accurate people counting software available to a range of businesses and organizations. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll have actionable information at your fingertips.

Get a free quote within one business day by filling out our simple form. If you have any questions, contact us today

Space Utilization

Space Utilization

Every organization places great value on its working space. The area or environment dedicated to operating a facility comes with a significant cost, including the real estate value, the operating expenses and the effectiveness of people working in that space.

It’s difficult to achieve maximum efficiency and produce a proper return on investment without utilizing space to its fullest advantage. Whether it’s retail space, casino space, library space, museum space or university campus space, the facility’s area needs to maximize its space utilization. This is best done by measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) like the number of people using the allowable space.

These KPI measurements are commonly called metrics. They provide realistic data that can be analyzed and used to identify where space is ineffectively utilized. Space utilization metrics can also show what’s really working inside a workspace, which can add significant value to a facility’s operation.

Today’s technology allows facility managers to calculate their space utilization rate easily. Understanding factors like traffic trends and person-to-space occupancy ratios allow managers to improve business performance, secure funding and optimize labor by making better-informed decisions. One of the best technologies available for space utilization calculation and achieving maximum cost-effectiveness is a people counting system.

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What Is Space Utilization?

Simply put, space utilization is measuring how and whether allowable space is being used. It’s commonly expressed as a function of occupancy rate and frequency rate. The occupancy looks at how full the space is compared to its capacity, and the frequency rate measures the amount of time the space is used compared to its availability.

Space utilization rates are assessed by the actual use of a facility’s space experiences and the predicted use expected from a particular space. Private office space utilization is no different from public space use when it comes to examining metrics and calculating peak use and low-occupancy times. Whether it’s a corporate boardroom or a library reading area, effective managers must know how their space is truly utilized.

Space utilization is as much about managing people as it is about measuring space. Every facility has its high and low occupancy periods. The trick for managers is knowing how to measure those metrics accurately and move them into a matrix where meaningful data presents a true picture of how their space is used.

Calculating Space Utilization

Another way of viewing space utilization is by dividing a facility’s occupancy by its capacity. For instance, if a facility has the capacity to handle 300 employees but only has 200 on staff, the space utilization ratio is 3:2 or 67 percent utilized. That ratio indicates a lot of unused space, which is expensive real estate.

There is no magic or optimal formula for calculating peak space utilization because each facility has its own specific requirements for the people-to-place formula. For instance, a museum may require extra floor-to-visitor space because of exhibit requirements, while a casino environment will tolerate a much more packed feeling.

A retail outlet, such as a shopping mall location, depends on drop-in traffic. Retail managers have to analyze foot traffic flow trends and compare them with times and promotions so as to maximize their shop space. Education facilities like campuses and universities also have to measure occupancies to schedule staff to meet service needs.

To accurately monitor traffic and understand ultimate space utilization, it’s necessary to measure key factors that balance the people-and-place equation. One true indicator of traffic measurement is a people counting system. These are hardware and software components that provide accurate information on who’s coming, staying and going. People counting systems give a great picture of space utilization metrics.

Space Utilization Metrics

Metrics are an all-encompassing term for measurement units. There’s no precise metric list because there are so many variables in calculating which parts of a facility are being utilized efficiently and which are being under-utilized. Developing metrics is a matter of examining what key performance factors occur within a particular space.

Another way to look at space utilization metrics is by viewing them as data collection points. Getting meaningful data requires an accurate measurement of what people are doing within a particular place. Some common metrics applicable to calculating space use are:

  • Overall square footage: The first metric to establish is a facility’s size. In most American sites, like offices and retail outlets, this measurement is normally calculated by the square footage of floor area, rather than the cubic footage, which is a common warehouse metric. The total square footage is then defined by specific usage areas like meeting rooms and dedicated spots for displays.
  • Overall staff occupancy: An equally important metric for analyzing space utilization is identifying staff numbers and their functions. It’s a rare for a facility to employ all staff members at the same time, so allowance has to be made for high and low employee presence. Many facilities utilize the same space for multiple staff members, such as desk-sharing and common work stations.
  • Overall visitor trafficFor businesses open to the public, visitor traffic is a key performance issue. Monitoring visitor traffic provides a crucial metric that indicates the additional person-load impacting a workspace. It’s important that visitors have ample space to feel welcome and not repelled by crowded conditions.
  • Average peak usage: Both staff and visitors will have peak space-use periods. Some businesses experience periodic rushes, while others have a moderate traffic flow. Monitoring the average peak use in a facility is an important part of calculating the best use of available space.
  • Average peak frequency: Peak use times can vary in frequency. For example, a retail outlet can have an up-and-down scale of visits during the day while a learning institute will have longer fluctuations according to the season. It’s important to establish accurate metrics of how frequent peak capacities occur.
  • Ratio of visits to staff: This is a very important metric that affects staff scheduling. To manage customer interests, there have to be sufficient staff members present to handle their needs. Monitoring metrics like overall traffic and peak periods give managers a significant advantage to make sure resources match the demand, while allowing the space for them to interact.
  • Specific usage areas: Some facility areas are utilized more frequently than others. Both employees and customers move fluidly from one area to another, however, they tend to gravitate to certain spots more than others. Monitoring people’s movements within a facility gives managers a solid metric for what space is a highly utilized region and what’s not.

One of the best data-gathering tools for establishing space utilization metrics is a people counting system. Monitoring people through technology gives real-time data about accurate movements within a facility. People monitoring identifies peak usage in all areas like meeting spaces, individual workspaces and common spaces within any facility. Installing a people counting system will truly benefit space utilization management.

7 Benefits of Space Utilization Metrics

Facility space is one of the top costs of operating any business. To be cost-effective and deliver the best return on investment, facility operators have to manage their space as best as possible.

There are many ways that prudent managers benefit from wisely utilizing their space. By developing realistic metrics and applying data generated through people counting, every facility has the opportunity to increase performance and use their allowable space to its advantage. Here are seven benefits gained from space utilization metrics:

  1. Maximizing space use: Knowing the rate of people-flow through a facility is a crucial metric to establish. By having accurate counts of low and high usage periods, a facility manager knows what space is highly utilized and what can be considered a waste of space. Developing metrics from counting people builds a solid foundation for assessing and achieving maximum space use.
  2. Minimizing space costs: Wasted space can really impact a facility’s operating costs. Analyzing metrics developed from people counting gives a true picture of how space is used to its best efficiency. Eliminating unused space significantly saves operating costs and adds to profitability.
  3. Improving employee relations: It’s well-known that employees function best when they have sufficient space to work. However, some suggest that they can’t prosper in excessive space either, as it doesn’t contribute to a satisfying work environment. Clearly defined space metrics will result in building a workplace with optimum space use for best employee performance.
  4. Enhancing customer experience: Customers might not be able to recognize maximum space utilization, but they can certainly experience it. They intrinsically know when a private business or public facility is well managed, and they feel the effects of a well laid-out space. Metrics gained from people counting technology can have a positive impact on increasing customer experiences when properly implemented.
  5. Promoting agile environments: There’s an increasing trend to design optimum workspaces that promote agile environments, meaning a working space that seamlessly integrates with multiple activities. One of the principles around agile designs is having unassigned seating where workers have the freedom to use what space serves them best for their assignment.
  6. Conserving energy expenses: It stands to reason that maximized spaces make the best use of energy resources. This goes beyond conserving utility expenses and involves human energy that’s needlessly expended through inefficient environments. A people counting system provides excellent metrics for knowing how to improve space utilization and conserve energy expenses.
  7. Optimizing internal services: Communication between workers and outward to their management team is optimized by having efficient services integrated with excellent use of space. People counting is a support tool for establishing internal service efficiency, and is one more benefit a facility gains through space utilization metrics.

Every company that employs space utilization metrics and implements positive changes can expect a positive impact. Investing in technology support like people counting systems shows up as more than an improved bottom line. The return on investment also comes through as customer satisfaction, employee efficiency and organizational safety.

Technology That Can Improve Space Utilization

People counting systems are fascinating technological tools. They work on a straightforward principle of monitoring human movements in and out of a facility. Technology-based counters also track people as they move about the place.

People counters serve two main purposes. The first is acting as a customer relationship management tool. The second is acting as an internal data-gathering device that builds metrics to monitor employee patterns. In both roles, people counting systems provide excellent benefits that help make the best use of space in every application.

As with all technology, people counting systems continue to evolve. These systems are now highly sensitive compared to early models that simply clicked as people passed by. Many of today’s people counters are complex integrations of hardware and software. Here is a brief view of current people counting technology:

  • Density counting uses depth data and computer vision, mixed with machine learning, to anonymously track human movement.
  • Optical sensors are smart cameras that use real-time images to detect movement and identify people.
  • Break-beams are active infrared monitors that emit and receive light-wave interruption signals.
  • Thermal imagers detect body heat and register people’s moves on a software platform that builds metric patterns.
  • Wi-Fi trackers follow cell and smartphone signals to recognize individuals and know if they’ve seen them before.
  • Seat sensors detect human presence at work stations, on transportation systems and even in movie theaters.
  • Ultrasonic sensors use sound waves that bounce off people as they pass, and then use the information to supply movement metrics.

Investing in people counting systems is a must for progressive facility managers who want to make the most of their space utilization. There is a wide range of components used for counting people, and they vary in sophistication. These are the common components found in most people counter systems:

  • Overhead beam counters detect movement from above.
  • Horizontal beam counters identify sideways motion.
  • Uni-directional counters follow one-way traffic.
  • Bi-directional counters track two-way motion.
  • Wired counters use hard-wired components.
  • Wireless counters rely on wi-fi or radio signal communication.

Integrated software is an important technological support to integrated people counting systems. Compatible software takes data sent from counting sensors and transmits it into meaningful metrics. Information generated in software reports lets a management team clearly view what human activity takes place inside their premises. From this valuable content, managers make serious decisions about utilizing space.

Traf-Sys People Counting Systems Help Utilize Space

Traf-Sys provided top technological solutions where facilities want to maximize their use of space. Traf-Sys people counting systems provide component and software support for traffic monitoring challenges that mine raw data and turn it into meaningful metrics. From this information, business owners and operators have an excellent base on which to plan their optimal space use.

Over 17,000 locations depend on Traf-Sys people counters to inform them of patterns that affect business decisions and bottom lines. These include facilities like universities, retail stores, shopping malls, casinos, libraries and museums. Each one has benefitted by profiling their human movements, and they’ve made better use of their space from it as well as improving their bottom line.

Learn more about how people counter systems can improve your space utilization by contacting Traf-Sys today. Call us at 1-888-815-6568 or contact us online.