All posts by Retail Sensing

Retail Sensing manufacture the Video Turnstile people counting, vehicle sensing and smart city equipment. Our systems not only measure footfall and traffic, but monitor queues, display occupancy, track shoppers around stores, show heat maps of most visited areas, record passenger numbers, count pedestrians and provide retail intelligence and key performance indicators.

Cracking the case of the missing grocery sales – changing a weakness into a strength

One of a chain of supermarkets looked to be under-performing. The point-of-sale (POS) figures showed that people using this supermarket bought less items than shoppers elsewhere. Why was this? And what could be done to bring the store in-line with the others?

The Investigation – Data Collection

To find out what was going on the store chain directors installed a Smart Retail Sensing System and started amassing retail intelligence.

They knew the store was busy – the POS system told them how many shoppers there were. But they needed more than just people counts. The Retail Sensing system told them, amongst other things, the Average Shopping Time for both the entire store and different departments. It also showed where queues were forming and for how long, plus the path people took through the store.

The Analysis

When Retail Sensing analysed the data the “problem” was clear: the supermarket butcher was fantastic.

People were going straight to the fresh meat counter. As the butcher was so good they were prepared to queue for his advice and attention, spending an average of 10 minutes doing so.

The queuing didn’t stop there. Customers also waited ten minutes at the checkout. The average shopping time for the whole store was around 30 minutes which meant that customers gave the same time to buying fresh meat as they did to all their other shopping combined.

When compared with other stores in the goup this showed in the basket makeup. The average meat share at this supermarket was 18%, in other stores it was just 12%. If the store could get the ratio to a similar level, without sacrificing meat sales, profits would rise.

The Solution: Acting on the Data

How to do this? On the advice of the Smart Retail Sensing consultants they experimented with two complimentary measures. Firstly the store set up a ticket-based system for the meat counter. As soon as people entered the store, signs invited them to take a numbered ticket to see the butcher. When their number was called the butcher was ready for them. This meant that they could do other shopping whilst waiting for their turn.

The second change was in the layout of the shop. Moving different departments – fruit and vegetables, dairy, cleaning products and so on – so customers had to walk down these aisles to make their way to the butcher. Different arrangements were tried on different weeks and data analysis revealed the optimum layout for increased sales.

The Result

Changing the path people took through the store and reducing their queuing time is resulting in many more items being bought on each visit. The people still come in to buy their meat, but now also have time to buy their other groceries as well.

The key to solving the case of the missing grocery sales was monitoring the queuing times, the shopping path, how long people spent in key areas and, above all, the Average Shopping Time.

Can we Help?

If you would like to know more about this story, or learn if the Smart Retail Sensing Service can help your business, call Ran on +44(0)161 394 0827.

Reseller in Hong Kong for Smart City Systems Sought

We are currently inviting technology companies in Hong Kong to investigate becoming our sole resellers in the area.

To find out more call David Collins on +44 (0)161 839 6437, email or fill in the form below.

Briefly, our systems:

  • Count people, providing both real-time and historical data for big data analytics with accurate footfall figures by location and time.
  • Count bicycles to helps monitor and support their use.
  • Count vehicles to identify and reduce traffic congestion.
  • Count passengers on buses, trains, trams etc. They let city managers know the numbers of people arriving by public transport at various points in the city, by time of day.
  • Identify and reduce traffic congestion
  • Quantify the use of footpaths and cycle ways
  • Let retail units discover vital analytics like sales conversion rate, average queuing time, average shopping time, most popular area of store and footfall past the store
  • Assess the impact of development initiatives and use the data to inform future decisions

About Retail Sensing and the IoT Smart City Sensors

CCTV camera built into IoT smart city system for counting pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles.

Retail Sensing are a UK-based technology manufacturing company. Our head office is in Manchester.

Our Smart City devices use our own video analytics algorithm to detect pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles. They include data logging hardware and Internet-of-Things connectivity.

The ISO9001 quality approved system is implemented around the city and sends real time data to “Brokers”. The brokers process the data and make it available to all end users.

The Smart Counters are attached to lampposts around the city. They can also be used inside public buildings and shopping centres

We’re currently involved in smart city projects around the world, either directly or with our resellers.

Find out more about becoming a Reseller

To find out more about becoming a reseller of our smart city systems, call David Collins on +44 (0)161 839 6437, email or fill in the form below.

Counting mobile library users in the Arctic Circle

In the far north of Finland, within the Arctic Circle, travels the mobile library of the Inari region. This library bus brings books and magazines to the small villages of the largest municipality in the country.

The library wanted to record how many people got on and off the bus at each stop. To achieve this accurately and cost-effectively they partnered with Retail Sensing.

Children on the mobile library bus
Children on the mobile library bus

The bus runs Monday to Friday, following a different route each day. In the middle of the bus is one door which the library patrons use to board and alight. Technicians installed a CCTV camera above the door and connected it to one of our people loggers. Our software analyses the images from the camera, detecting whenever a person enters or exits. The logger saves the counts of people using the library at each village – recording the time, date, number of library visitors and location.

The data collected is providing a measure of the library’s value – proving that the library bus is well-used and worthwhile.

Read more about automated passenger counting or contact Retail Sensing for more information on counting in a mobile library bus.

Google local search drives consumers to high street stores

Research from Google investigates the impact of internet searches on high street shopping. According to their report, the retail industry is undergoing a dramatic shift: footfall is down whilst online research is up. But search results are also a powerful way to drive consumers to stores.

Google local search drives high street footfall

Three out of four shoppers who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores. Shoppers are actually inspired to visit after successfully finding out information such as the in-store availability of an item, store location, hours and pricing at a nearby shop.

Local search drives footfall

The report says that digital is a powerful way to connect consumers with stores and increase footfall (or “in-store foot traffic” as they put it).

Another statistic unearthed by the researchers is that many consumers now spend more than 15 hours per week researching on their smartphones.

This change in consumer behavior is creating dramatic new realities in the world of local retail. It’s not only changing the mind-set of consumers as they walk into the store, but it’s also changing actual footfall patterns. Stores are seeing less visitors, but the people who enter are buying much more. Consumers visited less, but they were better informed about what they wanted when entering the store. Each trip was more purposeful and the stores’ sales conversions are increasing.


Sales conversion is simply the number of people who make a purchase divided by the number of people who enter the store. If 100 people visit a store, and 5 of them buy something, the conversion rate is 5%.

Obviously the first step in calculating sales conversion is to count how many people visit the store in a given time. Or, to put it another way, how many opportunities for a sale are there? Integrating people-counts with the point-of-sale (POS) system produces sales conversion figures in real-time.

Stores can further increase sales conversion rates by

  1. Using people count patterns to accurately schedule more staff at busy periods and generate more sales.
  2. Tracking the path consumers take through the store: if someone cannot find something they cannot buy it. Seeing where people go shows whether a store needs re-organising in order to increase conversion rate.
  3. Seeing the length of time people pause at displays and kiosks. If the display doesn’t catch their interest: change it.
  4. Monitoring queues: long waiting times discourage people from buying
  5. Finding how many people leave without buying anything and why: long queueing time, no staff available to convert the sale, poor store layout, etc.

A video people counting system gives high street retailers the tools to maximise profits.

Further Reading:
Video People Counting, Retail Sensing
The 3 New Realities of LOCAL RETAIL by Sameer Samat, October 2014
Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, Google

How important is footfall data?

Acting on footfall trends can maintain profitability even in harsh trading conditions. The key is to analyse the fine details rather than just looking at the big picture.

Zooming into various indicators lets retailers identify badly performing areas and act to improve matters. For example by:
– Comparing footfall and sales conversion at different hours of the day
– Comparing footfall and sales conversion at different properties
– Monitoring how many people pass by
– Mapping “hotspot” areas to discover which places are most popular and where the dead zones are.

When the live footfall numbers are integrated with current purchases at the till, the data becomes even more powerful. Sales conversion figures taken throughout the day and on different days of the week show the way to progress and increase profits.

Outdoor footfall counters provide more detail to assess and improve performance. Are you taking advantage of the busiest periods in your location, or is there potential for improvement? Understanding the pedestrian flow outside a property helps benchmark the performance of each shop, restaurant, cafe and bar.

Footfall data shows whether premises are under- or out-performing and measure the success of marketing initiatives, staffing levels and layouts.

Let the data drive decision making and see the rewards in the sales figures. For more on the technology needed, or for a roadmap of how to improve your sales figures, contact Retail Sensing.

Why do libraries need a people counting system? We share the reasons

More and more libraries are reaping rewards from visitor counters. They are using them to save money, improve services and, increasingly, to justify their existence. With a visitor counting system they can

  • Record visitor numbers per month, week, day, hour or even every five minutes
  • See which areas and floors of the library are most popular
  • Monitor and reduce queues
  • Find which days and times are the busiest
  • Know the current occupancy of the library
  • Track the paths people take through the library

The main reason libraries install people counters in the first place is to prove to funding agencies with user statistics. However, a video counting system soon proves itself cost-effective in many other ways.

Libraries use the data to improve the visitor experience by increasing staff at busy times and reorganising displays that aren’t working. They can also save money by reducing staff during quiet periods. The number of people visiting the library at different times and days is remarkably constant; recording people counts let libraries plan ahead and optimise staff levels and opening times.

Understanding usage patterns of the library, for example, let the Thomas Cooper Library of the University of South Carolina extend opening hours on its busiest days – Sunday to Thursday – but not on the quieter Friday and Saturday.

Library management: count people, reduce queues, allocate staff, track area popularity

The video visitor counters provide quantitative data showing how much and how often people use the library’s physical resources. This evidence provides support for the resources that are being used and enables the reduction of under-used features: saving money whilst giving people more of what they want.

Administrators and librarians use the statistics provided by the library counters to evaluate the ways in which the library supports their community.

Determining how much a libary’s facilities are being used by its patrons is an effort that every library should attempt.

Daniel S Dotson and Joshua B Garris writing in Library Philosophy and Practice

Video people counters use pictures from CCTV to identify and count visitors. Counts can be stored and displayed both locally and remotely, with data being sent over the internet to administration centres. Systems are over 98% accurate.

Further Reading:
Counting More than the Gate: Developing Building Use Statistics to Create Better Facilities for Today’s Academic Library Users,
Daniel S. Dotson, Joshua B. Garris. Library Philosophy and Practice

Contact us for more information.