Customer counting

Did you know that when you walk in to many high street stores and shopping centres (malls) there is a good chance you are being anonymously counted?

I previously worked for one of the pioneers in footfall counting SPSL, now part of Ipsos.

Why count people?

There are a number of reasons for counting the number of people walking in and out of stores and believe it or not its nothing to do with snooping! By recording footfall throughout the day and tying it with other information it allows the stores to work out when they are busy and when they are most profitable, these don’t always coincide. By knowing this information it helps the stores to optimise their staff scheduling so that when they are busy they have the staff to cope. It is also possible to compare you store with your other stores in other areas of the country or compare your store with neighbouring stores of a similar type.

What did I do?

SPSL designed and made the majority of there own equipment, when they started there wasn’t much off the shelf kit available (as there is today) so the DIY choice was the only choice. When I joined the company it was time for a complete refresh of the kit, this include all the hardware and software.

New kit was designed, up to 32 doorways now, up from 2, up to a years data storage, up from 16 days. The door sensors remained the same but the data collection units they are now attached to are intelligent so can be a great deal more flexible. Indeed, the firmware for these units still gets a tweak or upgrade from time to time as new functionality is required.

Look down unit at Manchester City shop

Look-down system electronics

A complete in store kit

Some of the new third party counting units

ZigBee data link module

The data collection module

Is it a smoke alarm – no it’s a footfall counter!

The newer video based devices are more discrete.