Investing in technology is expensive and time consuming. You don’t want to take the risk of making the wrong decision and wasting a lot of time and money… not to mention your reputation. Traffic counting in retail stores has been around for as long as retailing itself. There have been a lot of technology changes over the years. It can be very confusing as every traffic counting manufacturer has their own claims.
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The idea of scheduling staff to traffic is an old idea, but it’s an important one. It also just makes sense. You want to have your store labor applied to when shoppers are actually visiting the store. So why are so many retailers not doing this properly?
The pressure to drive sales is on. But you’ll never get there if you can’t lose the blind spots that keep you from key operational insights that can help you make better decisions and deliver better results.
Labor is one of the biggest expenses, and given the labor shortages that so many retailers are experiencing, it’s vital to make sure you’re scheduling your labor as efficiently as possible. But it’s not just about how much labor you have. It’s also about what the labor is focused on.
You’re frustrated that the millions you’re spending on marketing aren’t translating into the sales you expected. But the problem is your store teams don’t have what they need to make that happen. The good news is…you can easily give it to them.
We often hear from store managers that they are frustrated because head office is telling them to sell more – often setting stretch goals – but nobody is actually helping them figure out how to get there. The good news is: giving your store teams the tools they need to succeed is a lot easier than you might think.
It is surprising how many retailers actually use transaction counts as a proxy (approximation) for traffic. Or they use transactions counts as a proxy in some cases like in workforce management systems or goal setting. But this is a really bad idea.
One question we get asked a lot is how many stores should have traffic counters so that traffic insights can be extrapolated to all stores in the chain.
We totally get it. Budgets are tight. Anything you can do to reduce cost is worth exploring, especially if you operate a large chain, So...do you really need to track traffic in all your stores or can you just simply install traffic counters in a sample of stores and then extrapolate the results?
In-store customer experience has never been more important — you wish you could monitor it every hour of every day, but that just isn't affordable or practical. Sales results aren't a reliable proxy because they are often overly influenced by store traffic. So how then can you understand your CX in any meaningful way?
You already have the best proxy for customer experience for every one of your stores and each hour they are open — and you may not even know it.
While the benefits of conducting Mystery Shops and measuring customer satisfaction are well understood by retailers, the strong connection between traffic, conversion and customer experience are not. Without traffic and conversion data, you will draw the wrong conclusions about your research and waste money on Mystery Shop visits that are not well targeted.
Have you ever listened to quarterly earnings with retailers and heard them explain sales slumps by a fall in foot traffic? The problem is...some of those retailers don't even track traffic and are using transactions as a proxy. So their answer translates to: "Sales are down because sales are down".
So...how about you?
How would you describe a sales slump? Would you refer to traffic or the store 'busy-ness'. Do you track traffic in all your stores?
The value of transaction data that comes from your point-of-sale (POS) system is undeniable — it helps you understand sales results, manage inventory, optimize distribution, and even deploy staff.
So what then is the glaring flaw?
If you are primarily relying on your sales data to fuel your business intelligence systems and team discussions, you have absolutely no perspective on the sales you lost.
There seems to be a tremendous amount of confusion between retail Shoppers or Customers...or, stated differently Traffic versus Transactions. Not understanding the simple concept of 'traffic' cripples your ability to drive retail sales or even understand them.
Most retailers already have powerful data to help understand and improve customer experience (CX) — but they forget to use it. Don't waste money on random Mystery Shop and CSATs until you know precisely when and where to targeted your customer research.
Why do so many retailers still use sales to assess store performance? When all you have is transaction data with out traffic, you are going to suffer a 'transaction misdirection'.
Sales transactions are outcomes. A sale is what happens if you successfully convert a shopper into a buyer. While traffic and transactions are obviously related, relying on transaction counts as a proxy for store traffic is a big mistake.
"What will traffic and conversion data tell me I don’t already know?"
That's a question our team at HeadCount has been hearing for 20 years. Surprisingly, some retailers often don’t believe that counting traffic and measuring customer conversion will tell them anything they don’t already know.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Without traffic and conversion data, you don't even have the basics to run your stores.
No single metric defines the retail category as much as same-store sales do. Retailers live and die by this one simple measure. But, evaluating same-store sales in the context of retail shoppers (people who actually enter your store) and retail conversion (people who actually buy) will dramatically alter how your interpret your results.