Retail has always been a game of numbers, with two critical elements at play: how many people walk through the door and how many proceed to make a purchase.
In-store traffic counting provides the basis of that formula, with experts noting if you don’t have that data, you’re literally “flying blind”. It tells you how many people enter a shop, the times that they do it, and combined with data from your point of sale, how many visits are converted into actual sales.
Here are five reasons every retailer should be counting traffic, and why it’s so simple to do the maths.
In his compelling argument that all stores should be counting traffic, industry veteran and retail trend analyst Mark Ryski notes retailers should be serious about measuring traffic in all their stores, particularly at a time when bricks and mortar is head to head with an online world.
“…the big “why” of traffic counting is that it enables retailers to understand the potential sales opportunity (traffic) and helps measure how well stores are doing at capturing the opportunity (conversion rate),” he says.
“Without knowing something about the sales opportunity, how can you fully understand how your chain is performing? I say you can’t.”
Ryski also argues further that while most stores settle for transaction data from the register, they’re making a big mistake.
“There is a profound difference between transaction counts and traffic counts,” he states. “Store traffic is a measure of all the people who visit the store, including buyers and non-buyers. Transactions only account for the number of buyers.
“Using transaction counts as a proxy for store traffic will lead to wrong conclusions; wrong conclusions lead to bad decisions; bad decisions lead to poor results. It’s wrong and reckless.”
So what “conclusions and decisions” can traffic counting assist with?
Knowing how many people walk through your doors is imperative to understanding how well your marketing works. With the capability to track entrances and exits, it lets you know when people choose to come in and provides an insight into why.
For example, if you’ve recently engaged in a social media marketing campaign and your foot traffic is up, something is working. If you’ve forked out for a TV ad campaign but there’s little difference in the numbers, something is not.
Meanwhile traffic counting can also reveal whether your all-important shop window is compelling people to stop and walk in.
The power hours
Perhaps most importantly, traffic counting reveals when you should be expecting sales. These power hours are the opportunity to staff well, service customers well and make the best sales.
Likelihood is every store in a chain will have slightly different power hours based on their location and the surrounding clientele. For some it will be the lunch period, for others just after school, or extended trading hours on a weeknight.
Regardless, these are the times most likely to yield profits. They’re an opportunity for your best customer service staff to get down to business and make sales.
Naturally this knowledge of when you are busiest allows you to roster accordingly to ensure customers are being adequately served. It may reveal that lunch breaks should be shifted or extra staff fostered on, or conversely that you can cut costs with fewer staff at certain times.
In a multi-store situation where you have sites at different locations, traffic counting will also reveal how productive each store is. This is valuable data for assessing the performance of each location and can even provide insight into the performance of staff.
If the foot traffic is similar but the sales are not, what’s being done differently in this location and is there the potential for better sales training?
In this digital age, traffic counting isn’t the only set of numbers for stores looking to hone their performance. When combined with transaction data from the register it provides a very real insight into your conversion rate and the performance of your staff, pricing and even store layout.
This data may reveal that you’re getting the people in but they’re not committing to buy. It may also reveal that some teams of staff are better at making sales than others. And then you can hone the training, management and customer relations aspects of your store.
Simple to implement
The truth is traffic counting is simple to implement, with options like the Crosspoint Stylus AM30 incorporating counting into a state-of-the-art security system. Not only is this compact, wall-mounted security detector easy to install, it boasts an integrated counting system with the capability to send results directly to the Cloud.