Sunday, April 06, 2008
From the article Footfall by Travis Kircher*
Don’t look now, but someone is watching you.
Maybe it’s the shabbily dressed drifter you ran into in home appliances as you shopped the local department store. Or, maybe it’s the dozen or so video cameras that are bolted to the wall at various points throughout the store.
Don’t be alarmed. The shabby guy isn’t there to take your wallet and the man behind the camera isn’t “Big Brother.” They only are observing your shopping behavior.
It’s all part of a move by some retailers to track customers as they move through their stores.
Georganne Bender is a retail consultant and co-founder of consulting firm Kizer and Bender. Bender, along with her business partner, Rich Kizer, frequently advises store owners on how to create a store layout that is easy to navigate. She says it’s a mistake for retailers simply to place products in their store in random order.
“Good retailers absolutely do not leave merchandising to chance,” she said. “It’s something that they’re thinking about and it’s something that evolves every day. And it’s not something that customers dictate to them. It’s vice versa.”
How can a store map its traffic patterns? Industry leaders say there are a variety of methods.
“The most efficient way is to put an observer in to note the patterns of people — the way that people enter the store and go through — on a sampling basis,” said Eugene Fram, a marketing professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Philip Saunders College of Business.
Some companies offer a more high-tech approach when it comes to mapping customer traffic patterns. David Smyth is vice president of sales and operations for Experian FootFall, a company that uses strategically placed video cameras to record customers’ actions, develop headcounts and map traffic routes accordingly.
“What you’re trying to do is look for hot and cold spots — areas of high density of traffic,” Smyth said.
Once the current traffic pattern has been identified, Smyth says retailers can try modifying the layout of their store to increase sales.
Warren Brown is director of marketing for IntelliVid Corp., another company that uses cameras and video intelligence software to gauge traffic patterns for retailers.
“What we find folks typically want to do with the video intelligence is use it to really diagnose why things are selling and why they are not selling,” Brown said. “How effective is a new display? We do that in a couple of ways. One is relating the traffic by that end cap to the overall store traffic.”
Brown explained that if 1,000 people came into a store on a given day, maybe 200 of them passed by that end cap. Brown’s software allows retailers to know how many people got close enough to the end cap to pick up a displayed item from that shelf. Further, the software lets retailers analyze how many of the 200 who passed that end cap stopped and lingered in front of it.
Consumers on foot, like drivers of motor vehicles, adhere to certain rules or patterns. It helps to identify these rules when designing a store.
Click the link below to read the rest of this article, plus more store layout tips from KIZER & BENDER:
* Travis Kircher is the editor of www.selfservice.org and www.digitalsignageassociation.org and a regular contributor to Retail Customer Experience magazine
** The diagram above shows customer movement around a store. The darkest shading (black) indicates the lowest traffic, reaching into the furthest corners of the store and crossing the aisles. The lightest shading shows the highest traffic — from yellow at the front door through red and lavender to the right of the door and down the main aisle to blue down the principal aisles among the shelves. Heat maps such as this are specialized and expensive and are used primarily for pilot stores or where stores are testing new ideas. Diagram Courtesy Experian Footfall