Retail traffic counting may be more significant to your business than you might think. There was major remodel of a store I worked for and it affected sales for the business. The front of the store was being repainted which affected where customers could walk. Painter scaffolding was blocking portions of the entrances and we were forced to redirect traffic.  A large area of our parking lot was fenced off and storage trailers occupied the space impacting vehicle parking. Inside the doorway plastic sheeting was hung down and our customers had to walk through cut out doorways. Further inside the store full departments were combined with other departments and space between fixtures was restrictive to say the least (downright claustrophobic is more appropriate). Floor tile and carpet were pulled up in areas and made walking around a cement floor uncomfortable. We did not have a door counting sensor to take an actual headcount of how many shoppers were entering the store but the information could have been useful to the company before jumping into other remodeling projects.


     Retail traffic counting is exactly what it sounds like. It is the tracking of the number of people entering a store not just the tracking of daily sales data. The information obtained is important because it can aid store management in assessing the impact of events on the business. Sales data is useful for replenishment of products or comparisons of how many dollars are spent in one time frame versus another. Data can be driven down to the product level to see if a special sale item was successful or not. The downside to sales data alone is that it fails to provide the end user with the actual number of people who walked in and out of the store during the day. When people are factored in a business owner or manager can compare that figure to the total number of transactions and start to analyze if there were factors that may have contributed to missed sales opportunities. How difficult is it to obtain people counts? It is done with a door counting sensor that can be a stand-alone unit or better yet if a store has a Checkpoint System with electronic article surveillance (EAS) towers at the doors it can be connected to that system. The additional benefit is that EAS alarm activity and response can be tracked and evaluated.


          Consider the usefulness of tracking the headcounts for your store. Going back to my remodel situation, we saw changes in our sales as the construction process took place. But if we knew how many patrons we were down compared to the prior year we could then make suggestions in our final store recap about what we could have done better. Would better signage or directional signs aided the parking situation? Perhaps the look of the work around the store entrance scared some customers away and we could have suggested an alternate entryway for customers. Looking back on it I believe the use of a door counting sensor would have been beneficial to us and the company.


     Another useful application for retail traffic counting is that it can help measure the effectiveness of store advertising signage or new window displays to attract customers. If you have a baseline established for your patron counts and then do something creative with your signage and you can validate that the number of clients increased you can reasonably attribute the increase to the signage. If foot traffic goes up but sales data remains flat then you know you have another issue you need to evaluate and address. It may be your pricing strategy, your customer service level, too few cash registers open or something else. At least you can rule out that a lack of customers is your problem.


     With the appropriate application a retail traffic counting system can be a useful assessment tool for your store. Evaluate your business and how certain activities may be driving or impeding sales so you can more effectively strategize in the future. Try adding a door counting sensor and see how you may be able to open the door to increased sales.

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