In today's digital age, data has become a valuable asset for businesses looking to optimize their operations and enhance customer experiences. For retailers, footfall data is a crucial component in understanding customer behavior and improving the effectiveness of their physical stores. Footfall data provides retailers with valuable insights into staff performance, marketing efficacy, and other metrics that can inform decisions on everything from training programs to staff rotas. However, despite the potential benefits of footfall data, many retailers are still struggling to fully leverage its power. In this article, we will explore the main challenges holding back retailers from effectively using footfall data and discuss strategies to overcome these obstacles.
Accuracy of Data
One of the main challenges that retailers face in leveraging footfall data is the issue of accuracy, which can be can be caused by a number of factors. Often we find clients are using solutions with less accurate crossing detection methods, such as beam counters for in-store footfall or wifi-based solutions for passing traffic.
Although typically inexpensive, beam counters, as you might imagine, detect only when the beam is broken. This fails when multiple people enter the store in a group or when someone lingers around the beam crossing it multiple times. In the case of wifi-based solutions, these count based on the number of people within a range with wifi enabled on their device. The problem here is that people may carry no devices, multiple devices and there is no guarantee that if they are carrying a device, that wifi will be enabled. All of this lowers the overall accuracy of this detection method.
It's for these reasons that we find AI camera-based solutions for both in-store footfall and passing traffic to be the most accurate and reliable. Looking for the top-down shape of heads and shoulders for in-store footfall, and for the movement of walking legs for passing traffic, group counting becomes no issue, and lingerers are able to be discarded, which leads to a high level of accuracy. For example, our solution guarantees a minimum of 95% accuracy and often pushes significantly higher, which we believe helps our clients trust and, thus, fully leverage the data.
That being said, not all camera-based solutions are created equal and we've also found issues with this style of solution. For example, issues with lighting can create inaccuracies causing the sensors to under or overcount. Additionally, heavy foot traffic or congestion at the entrance or exit points can cause sensors to misinterpret movements and result in inaccurate data. In our experience, the best solution to these issues is to provide a system with a cutting-edge, robust crossing detection algorithm on hardware that is suitable for the location's lighting and finally, to thoroughly audit the system after installation.
Another challenge that retailers face in leveraging footfall data is technical support with the systems. While people counters are a critical tool for collecting footfall data, retailers need robust technical support to ensure that their systems are functioning correctly and that they are getting accurate and actionable data. Too often we speak to retailers who have purchased or subscribed to a people count service but have been left out to dry, with technical issues unresolved, systems down for long periods of time, and little to no support available.
We've found that many retailers don't often have access to the necessary resources or expertise to maintain and troubleshoot their people-counting systems alone. This can be particularly challenging for smaller retailers who may not have in-house IT staff or the budget to pay additional support fees. This is critical as, without proper technical support, retailers may not be able to identify and resolve issues with their people counting systems, leading to inaccurate data and missed opportunities for optimization.
This is why we recommend working with a partner with high levels of customer satisfaction, that includes support as standard, and that audits each system after installation. We've found that by following these rules we're able to reduce the number of problems that occur, and when things do go wrong we're able to put things back on course as quickly as possible.
Understanding & Action
Retailers also need proper training on how to use footfall data to inform their business decisions. Many retailers may not be aware of the full range of insights that can be derived from footfall data, or may not have the expertise to analyze and interpret the data effectively. Without this knowledge, retailers may miss out on opportunities to improve their operations and enhance customer experiences. However, while footfall data can provide retailers with valuable insights into customer behavior and store performance, it can also be overwhelming and difficult to interpret.
One common issue with footfall data is that it may be presented in a raw format, without any context or actionable insights. Retailers may receive a large volume of data without any guidance on what it means or how it can be used to improve their operations. This can be particularly challenging for retailers who may not have the necessary data analytics expertise to effectively analyze and interpret the data.
Moreover, the sheer amount of data collected by people counting systems can also be a problem for retailers. Without proper data management and analysis tools, retailers may struggle to extract meaningful insights from the data and make informed business decisions.
To address these challenges, retailers can work with vendors who provide training as well as data analytics tools and services to help them analyze and interpret their footfall data. These tools can provide retailers with easy-to-use dashboards and reports that present the data in a clear and actionable format. Additionally, retailers can prioritize collecting and analyzing specific types of footfall data that are most relevant to their business goals.
At HoxtonAi we make sure to understand exactly what our clients are looking to achieve, set out a plan, and provide both a dedicated Account Manager as well as round-the-clock technical support to ensure they feel supported throughout their journey. We also provide a clear and concise dashboard and weekly reports of all the metrics that are important to you presented in an easily digestible format, empowering our clients to fully leverage the data, without being a data scientist.
In conclusion, leveraging the power of footfall data can be a game-changer for retailers looking to optimize their operations and enhance the customer experience. However, retailers must be aware of the challenges they may face when working with people counting systems and analyzing footfall data. These challenges include problems with the accuracy of people counters, technical support and training, and not receiving easily actionable data. By working with a vendor who specializes in people counting technology, invests in training their clients, and provides data analytics tools, retailers can overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of their footfall data. In this data-driven age, retailers who are able to leverage footfall data effectively will be better positioned to make informed business decisions, improve the customer experience, and drive revenue growth.