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Manchester chooses Retail Sensing to help deliver its Smart City Vision

Retail Sensing is one of three businesses chosen to run projects which will shape Manchester’s infrastructure and environment. The company was selected for the CityVerve project which aims to develop pioneering technologies for Manchester in the UK.

Richard Elliott, head of policy, partnerships and research at Manchester City Council said:

“I’d like to congratulate the three successful firms who have been chosen…This is a fantastic platform for them to showcase their business, contribute to the wider CityVerve project and demonstrate how digital innovation can work for Manchester.”

Retail Sensing is deploying people and traffic-counting sensors along Manchester’s busy Oxford Road Corridor – one of the most important areas of economic growth in Manchester today – to capture data on density and directional flow of traffic and footfall. The data collected will help inform future infrastructure plans and city centre management.

City Verve - Smart City Project

Asad Syed, MD for Retail Sensing, commented:

“I am delighted we have been selected to implement our IoT smart city technologies within the UK’s leading smart city demonstrator CityVerve. Manchester’s CityVerve is a pioneering blueprint for smart cities worldwide and the use of our smart technologies will make a positive difference to the citizens and businesses across the city of Manchester. We are hugely excited to be part of this innovative and outstanding world changing smart city project.”

The CityVerve project brings together the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technologies deployed at city scale to deliver transformative benefits: new businesses and jobs; better healthcare, transport and environment; and more engaged and empowered citizens.

Retail Sensing was chosen after taking part in a market consultation exercise which took place in late 2017. The consultation provided an opportunity for us to address current challenges within the city using digital solutions. We submitted an application outlining the potential of our technology through demonstration pilots, which address a number of areas that Manchester City Council want to improve for citizens, businesses and visitors.

Retail Sensing (together with our sister company Urban Sensing) is an IoT solutions manufacturer providing critical elements required for a complete smart city solution. IoT data is delivered through our UK-manufactured products which can be integerated into various data analytical smart city platforms. We are deploying traffic-counting sensors to capture data on density and directional flow of traffic and footfall. The data collected will help inform future infrastructure plans and city centre management.

Based in Manchester, CityVerve is a consortium of 21 organisations including Manchester City Council, Manchester Science Partnerships, the University of Manchester, Cisco, BT and other tech players. It is funded by Innovate UK and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It aims to provide a step change in how cities use the internet of things to deliver smarter services and create a blueprint for smart cities worldwide.

Find out more about our smart city solutions. Contact sales@retailsensing.com

Automated Passenger Counting Market to Grow by 18% a Year

According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the automated passenger counting (APC) market will grow by over 18% per year.

Driving the growth is the increasing demand for real-time transit information, APC’s ability to reduce costs, government regulations requiring data on a regular basis, increasing adoption of APC in developing countries and the easy integration of APC with other technologies

“Stereoscopic vision technology expected to witness the highest growth for the automated passenger counting system market during the forecast period.”

A video passenger counting system is over 98% accurate. It can count passengers getting on and off separately while differentiating between adults, children and luggage. It can also count several passengers boarding at the same time. Accuracy is unaffected by tough environmental conditions such as varying lighting and temperature conditions.

Bus transit operators are interested in determining the passenger travelling pattern – such as when and how often the passenger travels – to schedule the bus time and route.
Passenger counting in Singapore
The Asia-Pacific region, which comprises highly populated and rapidly developing countries such as China and India, is expected to dominate the automated passenger counting system market between 2017 and 2022. These countries are investing huge amounts of money for developing the transportation sector.

“The major players in the automated passenger counting and information system market include…Retail Sensing Ltd. (U.K.).”

MarketsandMarkets provides quantified B2B research on 30,000 high growth niche opportunities.

Further Reading

Automatically Counting Passengers, Retail Sensing

Automated Passenger Counting and Information System Market: APC by Technology (Infrared, Stereoscopic Vision, Time-of-Flight), Application (Buses, Trains, Ferryboats), PIS by Systems, Application, and Geography – Global Forecast to 2022. By: marketsandmarkets.com

70 Percent of Retailers Plan to Invest in the Internet-of-Things

  • 70% of Retailers plan to invest in IoT by 2021
  • 71% intend to install sensors to track customers’ footpaths
  • 75% want real-time alerts in order to deploy employees to locations in the store to assist shoppers
  • 79% will be using cameras and video analytics for operational purposes.

This is according to a report by ZIH Corp – Zebra 2017 Retail Vision Study.

Retailers are turning to IoT technologies to gain business insights, reduce operating costs, increase revenue and keep pace with the competition.

Nearly 70% of retail decision makers are ready to make changes required to adopt IoT, like installing a Retail Sensing analytics system.

The goal is to generate concrete, actionable insights on customer shopping habits and buying patterns by tracking customers’ movements throughout a store, and noting where people tend to linger. Retailers can leverage this behaviour data to make more-informed merchandising and marketing decisions, like measuring the effectiveness of displays.

Cameras positioned around store, linked to video analytics units, capture data – identifying which aisles and products customers prefer, and which areas of a store lead more often to a purchase.
Heat map in a children's clothing store
Heat map of where people linger in a children’s clothing store

So when sensors detect a poorly trafficked area in a store, for example, that real-time data insight alerts associates to merchandising missteps.

According to research by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, of MIT, companies that inject big data and analytics into their operations are 5% to 6% more profitable than competitors that don’t. So no wonder 70% are planning to do so.

For more information on using the Internet-of-Things in retail situations, – counting visitors, testing displays, tracking customers around a store, and so on – contact Retail Sensing.

Further Reading

Zebra 2017 Retail Vision Study.

Making Advanced Analytics Work for You, Harvard Business Review by Dominic Barton and David Court

Discover the Return-on-Investment Calculator for People-Counting System

You are thinking of installing a people-counting system, but how to work out when the expected benefits will justify the cost? To help you we have prepared a Return on Investment calculator complete with typical improvement figures. You just need to fill in your existing conversion rates, transaction values and store traffic and our spreadsheet will calculate in how many weeks a Retail Sensing footfall system will pay for itself.

Of course, it doesn’t happen without you making some changes. But the Retails Sensing five stages model provides a way for you to make continual improvement.

The 5 stages of

The 5 stages to achieve retail excellence

  1. Data Collection
  2. Analysis
  3. Planning retail adjustments – adjusting a customised tool box
  4. Implementation
  5. Back to Data Collection to monitor, measure and make more improvements to the key performance indicators

For example, you could take actions to improve the average shopping or dwell time. Measuring and improving average shopping time results in an increase in the number of people buying something, the number of items they buy and the amount of money that they spend. Alternatively you could concentrate on reducing queues or increasing conversion rate.

Read more about the five stages model and continuous improvement.

The calculation figures used in the RoI Calculator are an average of those we have a achieved with our retail clients. It is in the format of an Excel spreadsheet.

How to use technology to reduce queues and sell more ice cream

Queues are bad. Bad for customers: no-one wants to be waiting in line. Bad for businesses: less sales and less repeat custom. Reducing queues will obviously increase customer satisfaction, but are there other benefits?

An ice-cream retailer found that minimising queues meant not only happier customers but more of them. Not only that, but people were spending more in each visit to the shop. According to Ellen Rooney Martin writing for Tech Page One, “At Oberweis ice cream and dairy stores, the lines were becoming a problem. Then store executives analysed customer data and came up with a solution. The result: shorter lines, increased sales and more people eating ice cream.”

At the heart of the problem were the complex menu boards. By testing different menu boards at several stores and monitoring the results, the company shortened the queuing time and drove up ticket prices.

The first step for any company wanting similar success, is to monitor their queues. A Retail Sensing system accurately counts the number of people in a queue and logs the time people spend waiting. Employing this type of system means managers can test different strategies to reduce the queuing time. As the data can be combined with information from the POS system, it becomes easy to make improvements in the knowledge that they will work. Get happier customers, more of them, spending more.

To see if we can help your business reduce queues contact sales@retailsensing.com, telephone +44 (0)161 839 6437 or fill in our quote form.

How wide should a people-counting zone be?

When using video to count people, you position a cctv camera above the counting area or zone. The system detects and counts people as they cross through the zone. Typically a zone will cover a doorway but it might instead be across a corridor, outside a shop window, above a turnstile or over a store display unit. For extra-wide counting-zones you simply connect several cameras together.

The size that a counting zone under a camera can be depends on two things:

  • the focal length of the camera and
  • the distance that the camera is from the floor.

This table shows the maximum counting width in meters for differing focal lengths and heights of camera. As the distance of the camera from the floor generally can’t be changed, you should choose the focal length of the camera accordingly. Remember, these are maximum widths – you can change these by up to 25% using our people counting software.

Maximum width of the people counting zone for different heights of camera and lens focal length

Lens Focal Length 2.9 mm 3.6 mm 4.6 mm 6.0 mm 8.0 mm
Height of Camera above Floor Maximum Width of Counting Zone
2 m 1.66 m
2.5 m 2.07 m 1.67 m
3 m 2.48 m 2.00 m 1.57 m
3.5 m 2.90 m 2.33 m 1.83 m
4 m 2.67 m 2.09 m 1.60 m
4.5 m 3.00 m 2.35 m 1.80 m
5 m 2.61 m 2.00 m 1.50 m
5.5 m 2.20 m 1.65 m
6 m 2.40 m 1.80 m
6.5 m 2.60 m 1.95 m
7 m 2.10 m
7.5 m 2.25 m
8 m 2.40 m

The lens most often chosen has a 3.6 mm focal length. This is suitable when the distance between the floor and the camera is between 1.7 and 3 metres. As you can see from the above table though, by changing the focal length the camera can be as much as 8 m from the floor.

As the cameras only provide images, another component is required to analyse the images and allow people counting: the Video Turnstile units. The camera plugs into the VT unit which analyses the video and stores the people counts.