By Andy Ireland

OK why would you want a People Counter at the front of your store?

Without knowing how many people enter your store the data you have from that point on is flawed.

When you say you had a good day you are really guessing, when you say you had a bad day you are once again guessing. All you can base your reference point to is how many dollars are in the till. But that is only a very small piece of the retail puzzle.


Let’s explore the information you can glean with a people/traffic counter and why that information is important.


The busy periods during the day and week

If you have hard data on the busy periods through each day and week you can forecast hiring needs and staffing budget more accurately. You could easily be over employing without this data or worse, under employing and missing valuable sales opportunities.


 Your store conversion rate

There are many factors which influence how much money goes in the till and the measure of all of these is your “conversion rate”. Out of every 100 walk-ins how many become a customer? This will be one of the most important metrics in your business, just ask any retailer who uses and understands the power of this formula. With the annual SBIA benchmark survey this is one of the questions allowing you to benchmark your store against the industry average.


Effectiveness of in-store promotions

Once you know your conversion rate over time you can judge whether a promotion worked or not by comparing your conversion rate to the promotion period against a no promotion period or the same promotion last year. This allows you to fine tune promos and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.


How effective are your staff?

So sales are down today? Go check the conversion rate and then look at who is rostered on. Is it a foot traffic issue or a staff performance issue? Vice versa if sales are up, does a staff member or team need some congratulations? It’s important knowing what your team do with each walk-in opportunity.


Roster effectiveness

If conversions are up or down, check who is rostered on together, is there a pattern?
You can scrub the excuse of “it was really quiet” forever!


Measure advertising effectiveness

So you’re spending money on advertising. How is it working for you? Your people counter will tell you if it brought any extra traffic. Spend more on what works and less on what doesn’t.


Business Trends

Over the years you will see traffic trends with events, seasons and promotions, all of which help make more informed business decisions.


Create staff accountability

Once staff know about conversion rates and that this is one of the ways their performance is measured, then they can influence it. What you can’t measure, you can’t manage! This is an awesome training tool and gives great ppportunities for easy performance improvement.


Improve leasing opportunities

So you want to argue the value of your lease with your landlord? One of the biggest determinations of rent value is location and traffic potential. If you can negotiate with traffic reality and hard data, you are in a much stronger position.
These are brief explanations about the value of a people counter and you can go so far as to get a counter fully integrated with your POS. Alternatively it can be a cheap battery operated from which you collect the data each day and do a simple maths calculation:

  • What were my sales for the day, divided by the number of people who walked in.
  • How you get the data is not important, the fact that you do is! Google people or traffic
    counters and start hunting. This could be the most profitable search your ever do.


* Andy Ireland is owner of Saltbush Surf in South Oz and president of the Independent Surf Retail Association.