The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the retail sector, an industry already fraught with significant challenges. With consumers taking precautionary measures like social distancing, many retailers are seeing traditional shopping and spending habits waning.
And while the crisis hasn’t fully abated, retailers can quickly adapt to the new normal by investing in the right technology.
As retailers reopen their doors to the public, businesses must further prioritize analytics and other essential retail metrics to counteract decreased consumer spending.
Understanding the importance of retail analytics
Being able to leverage data-driven insights effectively is key to improving the in-store retail experience. At a time when consumer spending is down, and shopping habits continue to shift digitally, retail analytics represents an opportunity to optimize and improve in-store operations.
By gaining data-driven insight into customer journeys and buying preferences, retailers can develop an omni-channel shopping experience that complements in-store visits with online engagement.
This reduces friction in the customer journey, allowing for an uninterrupted customer experience.
In today’s socially distanced world, consumers act cautiously. Consumers expect retailers to enforce policies that reduce exposure to others. This is where footfall data plays a role.
What is footfall data?
Footfall analytics enable retailers to measure and monitor consumer movement. Using software and tools like an infrared beam or laser sensors and shape recognition technology, retailers can track the foot traffic within their retail store and develop insights into customer habits and other important consumer information.
By using footfall analytics, retailers are able to safeguard customers and staff alike while maintaining lockdown and government restrictions. The effective use of such technology means consumers can shop with confidence, and retailers can remain compliant with current regulations or policies.
Why count foot traffic?
Knowing how many customers visit your store provides critical insights into business performance. By quantifying customer numbers, retailers can better understand:
- Staffing patterns
- Effectiveness of marketing initiatives
- Impact of targeted ad campaigns on foot traffic
- Correlation between foot traffic and conversion rates
- Store development assessment
- Maximizing product launches
Benefits of using footfall counters
Footfall counting technology also offers retailers advantages beyond ensuring pandemic precautions are maintained. Below is a list of five benefits that come with the deployment of footfall analytics.
1. Optimize staff labor
Workforce management is an essential task for any retailer. Being able to properly deploy a team of part-time, full-time, and contractual workers can ensure a positive and profitable outcome, despite harsh trading conditions.
Footfall analytics uses a range of performance metrics, such as sales productivity and traffic hotspots, that can aid in workforce allocation. By tapping into real-time data, employers can position team members at critical junctions to improve the quality of the in-store experience and increase productivity.
Data gathered from footfall counting technology can also be used to predict traffic and seasonal spikes or dips. Retailers can then tailor staff numbers to optimum levels according to the expected data, improving sales and profitability.
2. Minimize inventory loss with asset tracking
Footfall counting systems can also be integrated with asset tracking solutions to generate location data for high-value assets like electronics and jewelry. Using location-aware features, retailers can calculate real-time locations of high values devices within a defined venue, minimizing inventory and asset loss.
By bringing real-time location context to assets, retail management can make informed decisions to ensure digital-savvy consumers experience the same level of convenience and service in-store as they would online.
Technology, such as asset tracking systems can help retailers maintain well-stocked stores through re-stocking alerts. Retailers can also use analytics to analyze dwell zones to improve in-store navigation.
Through analytical solutions, retailers can deliver a seamless online-and-offline experience, empowering consumers to shop how they want.
3. Gain a better understanding of consumer preferences
With footfall analytics, retailers are able to determine recurring traffic patterns. Overlaying year-on-year traffic patterns will give retailers insight into the most popular areas of the retail space.
This enables retailers to optimize store layout and product placement based on predicted traffic.
Aligning in-store analytics with e-commerce data gives retailers access to graphical data surrounding marketing effectiveness and consumer preferences. When retailers run a new marketing campaign, management can make better decisions on inventory set-up, creating a more unified retail experience.
4. Develop better insights into conversion ratio
Analyzing in-store traffic flow gives retailers better insights into conversion rates, a critical indicator of store performance. Footfall analytics is able to differentiate between different traffic sources from employee traffic to group buying units.
By quantifying actual traffic data, retailers can identify authentic selling opportunities, which can boost sales productivity. A more in-depth insight into retail performance allows management to make instant operational changes to display layouts, staff levels, and inventory, encouraging increased conversion rates.
Retailers that use data analytics to better retail performance typically experience an 8 percent profit increase. Retailers who become data-driven through footfall analytics can obtain insight into the correct data, creating a competitive advantage over competitors.
5. Track real-time occupancy status
Even before the pandemic happened, counting occupancy was a necessary precaution to ensure compliance with government occupancy regulations. Also, as COVID-19 passes and social distancing guidelines are relaxed, the pandemic has fundamentally changed how consumers shop.
As store capacity limits will continue to be a challenge for retailers, being able to tally customers through footfall technology ensures stores avoid becoming overpopulated. Customers are able to safely practice social distancing mandates, giving everyone peace of mind.
This tool also benefits employers when it comes to employee scheduling. Knowing when the peak shopping hours are allows retailers to refine employee scheduling. Determining the best schedule for employees results in higher staff productivity while reducing costs.
As retailers struggle to manage this “new normal,” many face the reality of scaled back operations. Such challenges require retailers to prioritize agility to remain competitive and improve profitability.
The use of mechanisms like footfall analytics creates a new opportunity for retailers to act with purpose.
Access to such relevant business intelligence helps management make informed strategic decisions regarding employee productivity, health and safety guidelines, and operational efficiency.
Beyond tracking key metrics, footfall counting technology allows retailers to demonstrate a genuine commitment to their consumers and community wellbeing.
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.