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Retail Footfall Counters and People Counters

Competitive advantage is increasingly important in the high street because consumers are buying more on line. They are paying fewer visits to Bricks & Mortar Retailers. We know this because of tracking beacons, footfall counters and retail sales data.

Before the introduction of footfall counters and footfall cameras, retailers estimated footfall using a mixture of gut feel, information from their EPOS system and manually counting consumers.

Of these three, EPOS data is of greatest value to shop managers. It provides data on turnover, profit, number of paying customers, highest and lowest selling products. These are used to make informed decisions.

Footfall data adds value to EPOS data however the information is of limited use.

Footfall data in retail.

Data from Footfall counters includes how many people entered and left the store, when the store is busiest and whether promotions drive an increase in customers. But how accurate is it?

Last week whilst shopping I watched a footfall counter at work in a very well-known store. It was  recording incorrectly.  On the way into the store a family of four were counted as two people. When they left the store they were counted as three. This means their visit wasn’t registered and they were invisible shoppers!

Based on this and other observations, there is clearly a margin of error in the accuracy of Footfall counters. But even if accuracy can be improved the benefits are questionable as footfall data provides limited insight into consumer behaviour. Really what is needed is information that enables improvement in sales volume and value.

What we need is information that internet retailers take for granted, omni channel marketing being one example.

Online retailers know how long consumers spend in their store, the areas  visited, what was looked at and, critically, if and when they abandoned their ‘basket’. Figures show that abandoned basket rates can be as high as 70% on line.

On line, conversion rate is not only measured. Action is taken to convert people abandoning baskets into purchasers whilst still ‘in store’. In retail stores these tools are absent.

So footfall counters are a step in the right direction. But what is needed is a way to improve conversion rates. And it is needed soon: before it is too late, not just for the store but for the whole industry!

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