The arrival of spring and warmer weather is helping to increase footfall in retail outlets. How do we know? Well retailers use all sorts of technologies to track visitor demographics, spatial and behavioural activities in their stores. The prevalence of security cameras is well known in the UK and as such it’s perhaps unsurprising that a quarter of all British shops and 59% of fashion retailers use facial recognition software to track visitors’ shopping habits. However, increasing customer aversion to in-store video surveillance and privacy concerns have led some technology firms to re-think their approach to measuring footfall and shopper demographics.
Hoxton Analytics offers a less invasive way of measuring footfall – by filming people’s shoes. Cameras are positioned low in a shop’s doorway to collect images of people’s footwear. The technology also offers retailers the ability to assess shopper demographics – age, gender and social class – based on these images. General rules are applied when assessing the images, for example shoes larger than a UK size 7 are likely to be worn by a male and smaller shoe sizes are likely to be worn by a woman. The technology is reported to be surprisingly accurate and identifies a customer’s gender with 75-80% accuracy and can count footfall with 95% accuracy.
Thermal imaging is another technology utilised by retailers to track visitors’ spatial and behavioural activity. Irisys offers retailers thermal-based technologies to monitor body heat density to track the number of visitors to a designated store. This information can be used to plan the store layout, advertising and merchandising more effectively. While thermal imaging may not provide demographic information (for example the technology won’t pick up non-heat sensitive objects such as a pram to indicate a family visit) it is a useful tool for stores with a high volume of traffic.
Thermal imaging and shoe tracking information can also be utilised by retailers to predict what shoppers may do in store – browse, try on or purchase – as well as to provide more relevant advertising based on demographics and previous shopping history.
As the warm weather is set to continue over the Easter weekend, UK high streets are expected to see an 8.8% rise in footfall. Warm weather therefore represents welcome news for shoppers and retailers alike!