Written by Tony Loxton
There are ghosts that haunt the aisles and stalk the shelves of your establishment.
Apologies to any Ghostbusters fans reading this, but we’re not talking about supernatural beings, but rather the undecided prospects that entered your store and left it empty handed. You’ve put the processes in place to measure transaction data and scheduled your roster accordingly, but at the end of the day you just aren’t seeing the revenue you’d like.
So what’s the deal (or lack thereof)?
The following passage from Mark Ryski’s Conversion — The Last Great Retail Metric sheds some light on the problem:
“Even with leading technology in place, many retailers are barely scratching the surface in leveraging the powerful data at their disposal. Relying on transaction data to schedule staff is a mistake. Most transaction data has been influenced by past circumstances: merchandising in-stock, promo pricing, staff availability, staff performance…it’s all factored into the historical transaction data – the good, bad and ugly.”
That passage brings us to the heart of the matter: if you’re relying on transaction data to populate your roster, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Why? Because transaction data takes into account numerous factors that are completely unrelated to the number of staff you have available at any particular time, while also not taking into account missed opportunities that occurred because your retail floor was understaffed or unprepared.
Thankfully, there is a more efficient way of managing your workforce to drive that holy grail of retail, conversion. It’s called foot traffic data.
Just as Mark Ryski highlighted the reasons why sales data is problematic when it comes to rostering, he neatly summarises why traffic data is useful in Conversion — The Last Great Retail Metric:
‘Traffic data, on the other hand, has not been influenced by these factors, and that’s why it gives you the best, most unbiased future forecast to base your staff scheduling on.” That’s what makes it especially useful as a leading indicator. Staffing to traffic causes you to think about the opportunity created by each customer walking in the door.’
It’s the who, the when, the why and the why not, all in one. Traffic data is unaffected by legacy issues and can accurately predict the numbers to expect on any given day, at any time. Essentially, without a foot-traffic forecast to inform your schedule, rostering is at best hit-or-miss.
So where to begin? Mr. Ryski recommends starting with an honest and thorough audit of your current service availability against the number of prospects entering your store, whether your workforce is under or overstaffed, and how many conversion opportunities are going to waste. Once clarified, you’ll have the foundation to implement a schedule that empowers staff to engage and convert prospects entering the store.
With this foundation in place, you’ll need to make sure you have the right foot traffic data, and this can only be achieved with the right foot traffic tools.
There are many different tools you can use to gather foot traffic data, but that doesn’t mean all of them offer the same quality of data.
Infrared beams will track the number of times people break the beam as they walk through, giving you a fairly accurate indicator of the number of people who walked in and out of your store. However, it won’t provide you with any information on how long they spent in your shop, or how many left your store within five minutes of entering.
Thermal and floor sensors will go a bit further, tracking how many people come and go, while also giving you an idea of where people spend the most time in your shop, but they won’t be able to tell you how long an individual spent in your store.
At this point you might be asking yourself, but why would I need more data than that? Any of these tools will let me know when I have the most amount of people in my shop and I can create my roster to handle these peak times. I don’t need to know more than that!
This approach to staff scheduling has the same problem as using sales data to create your roster. Your peak sales and peak number of customers are likely to occur at the same time, but you still don’t know when you missed the most opportunities. The only way you will know that is when you’re able to identify when individuals enter your store, are unable to get assistance, and leave shortly after.
There is only one foot traffic counter that provides you with this level of accuracy when it comes to foot traffic.
A Wi-Fi foot traffic counter provides the benefits of all other foot traffic counters, as well as some other advantages that are all useful in identifying missed opportunities. Wi-Fi foot traffic counters allow you to identify each unique smartphone that enters your store without the requirement for that smartphone to be connected to a Wi-Fi network. This unique identity allows you to track critical data, such as how quickly someone left after entering in your store.
In this case, while not every individual who entered your store and quickly left is a guaranteed lost sale, there is a significant chance that someone who needed help making a purchase was unable to get the help they needed, and left as a result. This is vitally important data when it comes to minimising the number of missed opportunities.
One such Wi-Fi traffic counter that provides the insights you need to decrease missed opportunities is Blix. Blix provides you with all the tools you need to gather the data on missed opportunities, as well as passing traffic metrics, customer dwell times, industry data, sales conversion tools, and staff performance metrics.
As a retailer, we hope you’ve gained a better understanding of why sales data, while undoubtedly an important metric, is a poor statistic to use when it comes to your staff roster. If you want to implement the most effective staff schedule to best serve the needs of your customers, you need to ensure you embrace this key point from Ryski:
“Traffic data helps you understand how you are capitalizing on the opportunity to bring closure to customers who are coming to your store – transactions don’t.”
Blix is here to help. Our intuitive, intelligent foot traffic and customer experience analytics system will harness your business data for increased sales conversions. Get in touch to start deploying your workforce for maximum, profitable effect.
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