Despite the resurgence of e-commerce, the vast majority of retail sales are still made in shops. As evidence, in 2020, US consumers spent a whopping $4.184 trillion in brick-and-mortar retail, compared to $709.78 billion spent on e-commerce. That means that a lot of people still go into physical shops to make purchases.
Understanding the real data behind these footprints is key to improving customer service and, therefore, your business.
How do you do it? By collecting data and conducting a footfall analysis.
Below is all the information on people-counting software you need to grow your business.
What Is Footfall in Retail?
As time goes on and technology evolves, running a shop or shopping mall is going far beyond manning checkout counters and directing customers. To increase your sales and, ultimately, your profits, you need a way to measure and analyze the traffic in your stores. That’s where footfall technology comes in.
Footfall, also known as People Counting, Shopper Counting or traffic, is defined as the number of people, or traffic, entering a shop. Far from being a simple measurement, footfall is an essential indicator of a company’s marketing success in attracting customers to shops.
At its most basic level, traffic analysis means counting the people who visit your shop. In the past, all you had to do was place an employee at the entrance with a customer counter, a handheld clicker that they used to track the number of visitors to the shop.
Newer systems use thermal imaging, video cameras, facial profiling, and infrared beams to help you better understand how people move through your shops. Using hourly analysis, you can capture potential customers’ flow and identify customer buying behavior and trends.
Understanding footfall works to your advantage because you can calculate other key metrics such as average transaction value and conversion rates which will help you determine demand and staffing levels.
What Are the Types of Footfall Counting Devices?
Manually counting visitors to your shop is a totally impossible task, unless your shop is small. Moreover, if your goal is to use data to improve your service, you will need to do more than just count people.
In particular, you will need to take the following into account:
- Amount of people who pass by without entering
- Number of people entering your shop
- Number of unique or repeat visitors
- Frequency of repeat visits
- Bounce rate
- Average time visitors spend in your shop
This kind of data can only be measured with good footfall software. Below, you will find the different types of footfall counters. Note that your choice of software to use should depend on your shop’s size, the number and size of entrances, windows and shop layout.
- Infrared counters: These are infrared cameras emitting a beam through an entrance point. Each time the beam is interrupted, it records a count. These systems include an algorithm to determine whether the cause of the beam break is a real shopper and to rule out other possibilities, such as a child running back and forth.
- Thermal cameras: These devices work by monitoring a temperature difference. They capture a customer’s body heat and compare it to the ambient temperature in your shop. They provide accurate data that allows you to count both individuals and groups of shoppers.
- Stereo camera surveillance: With these devices, you have access to accurate data. These cameras can overcome some of the problems of previous-generation technologies, such as multi-zone capabilities, shadow counting and high traffic counts.
- Face profiling: If you just want to stick to micro-analysis, face detection software can provide some of the most accurate analysis and buyer information. The latest generation of these face cameras can count visitors to your store and determine other parameters such as gender and age.
- Wi-Fi analysis: Unlike cameras, Wi-Fi does not count visitors to your shop. However, it can provide an in-depth analysis of each visitor’s behavior. This technology works with the smartphones your visitors use. You can also record the number of people who pass in front of your shop without entering, as well as your bounce rate. Besides, the system makes the difference between your employees and visitors, giving you access to accurate data.
Why Do You Need Footfall Software in Your Retail Store?
Now that you have an idea of the types of footfall software, here is an overview of what they can do for your business:
Optimize and improve staff deployment
People-counting technology helps you better understand in-store traffic. Based on the footfall software’s data, you can better allocate staff in your shops and improve the customer experience. Also, you improve employee engagement as your team feels useful and part of the growth strategy you’re implementing. To this end, you can also rely on leading RFID companies to provide you with the latest asset tracking software. These will enable you to be organized and responsive to customer demand.
Limit occupancy or reinforce social distancing
With capacity constraints at shop level due to the pandemic, you need people-counting technology now more than ever. It will allow you to know in real-time how many people are occupying the space in your shops at any given time, and you will be able to plan accordingly.
Maximize your in-store marketing
By providing you with data such as customer frequency and customer loyalty, people-counting software allows you to quantify and measure your marketing strategies. This information can help answer questions that can be used to tailor future marketing campaigns. Do marketing budgets need to be adjusted? Are your marketing campaigns reaching the real target audience? Are these buyers showing up?
Analyze customer behavior
People counting systems also help you stand out from the crowd in this very competitive market. Through behavioral analysis, you can determine how much time customers spend in each shop, what opportunities they may have missed due to waiting times or queues, or what walking routes they take through the shop. Understanding customer behavior can also help with product placement, staffing, marketing and sales conversion, to name a few.
The Value of People-Counting in Retail
The combination of RFID trackers and customer tracking technology will allow you to benefit from a wealth of data and information about each of your shops. Asset tracking software is your only source of truth, and the ability to collect vital details on shop footfall gives you a real return on your investment, which will help you:
- Create even more relevant and robust reports
- Identify the most popular locations to facilitate future shop expansion
- Find out where and when to strengthen your marketing efforts
Do you know other benefits of footfall software? Feel free to let us know in the comments section.
Vic Bageria is the Founder and CEO of Sávant Data System LLC, a retail solutions and services provider focused on empowering businesses with progressive technology solutions such as People Counting and In-Store Analytics to improve operational efficiency and profitability (such as provided by Xpandretail powered by Savant). Vic is an award-winning entrepreneur and visionary, with experience in building recurring revenue technology businesses, who has mastered the intersection of technology, consumer marketing, customer behavior and instore insights.