Advances in footfall technology mean that retailers now have the ability to exclude employees from their store footfall data. A move that will prove crucial to tracking more accurate patterns in shopper behavior, as Peter Luff from Ipsos Retail Performance explains below.
As well as keeping a tally on entry and exit points, footfall counting systems provide retailers and venue operators with a comprehensive system that monitors customers as they move, generates heat maps, and calculates dwell times around a physical environment.
Until now, footfall counting technology has been able to provide data on the number of customers entering and leaving a building, but hasn’t been able to differentiate between a shopper and a member of staff coming and going throughout the day. For retailers who accommodate a shift pattern for employees, or have greeters stationed at entrances and exits, this can throw up inaccuracies in the data which impacts its reliability to the operator.
This challenge inspired the latest innovation from our technology developers at Ipsos Retail Performance. We’ve recently added staff exclusion technology to our counting systems, setting the ‘gold standard’ for data accuracy by determining between shoppers and staff through the use of wearable tags or lanyards. The tags use Bluetooth to transmit data to the store-wide footfall tracking sensors, which incorporate multiple technologies, including stereo vision cameras and sensors, or the lanyards which are reflective and detected by Time of Flight cameras both counting staff and providing the ability to exclude any staff movements from the overall data.
Exclusion of staff in footfall counting is particularly crucial when analysing shopper journeys in luxury retail. Examples of such environments include jewellers, designer fashion stores and luxury car showrooms. Typically, these retail environments have a higher staff-to-customer ratio crossing the counting thresholds compared to a typical high street shop, so the ability to exclude staff movements in the footfall analysis is of much greater significance. Having the ability to focus in on how customers move through these environments can lead to significantly cleaner conversion rate KPI to then focus on improving.
For the store team the technology enables staff members to gain further confidence in the numbers provided. This allows greater focus for the team on the value which can be derived from the data rather than spending cycles on challenging data credibility.
The data collated by the system provides a variety of insight to store managers and head office teams. Through a closer understanding of heat map and dwell time data, store managers and head offices can focus on implementing targeted layout changes and visual merchandising installations that grab the attention of the shopper. As organisations strive to bring their online and offline presence closer together, using enhanced footfall data enables a closer analysis of shopper behaviors in-store versus online. It is allowing managers to adopt a similar test and learn approach to their physical environments, as they do with their online stores.
Through this deeper understanding of how shoppers move through stores and how staff engage in the store, retailers can implement changes in how they sell to customers at a more granular level. Systems can be configured to help retailers understand how individual display units are performing, informing decisions on where to move better performing product lines, and drawing shoppers deeper into their stores.
This advance in footfall technology is the first of its kind and is expected to shape the future of footfall counting for retailers across the board with Ipsos already leading with some of the first implementations across the globe. From those selling big-ticket items that consumers are likely to spend longer browsing, through to convenience stores where shoppers are more likely to ‘nip in’ for one specific item.
There is a multitude of ways that a retailer can track the customer activity of their store, but with this new technology, tracking footfall will be much more straightforward and more importantly, more accurate. As this technology improves, retailers have the opportunity to make their environments even more customer-centric.