Shop and be counted: Dubai sensor technology counts visitor numbers
Understanding retail footfall allows retailers to direct sales strategies and plan staffing. (File photo)
Next time you walk in a mall or retail outlet, be aware that you are being counted with advanced sensors. Your entry and exit would have just helped a mall operator to decide if a particular brand is to be continued or discontinued.
Dubai-based Savant Data Systems, or SDS, specialises in visitor counting technology and claims to command a 90 per cent market share. It says more and more retailers are adopting visitor counting technology.
"Malls are predominantly keen on leasing. Traffic counting solutions help to know customer footfall patterns, which entrances and areas are more populated in their mall, etc. This helps in leasing. Also, the solution helps them to address retailer complaints about the mall not drawing adequate traffic numbers. With the data accumulated, they can approach retailers and put forth the statistics of mall traffic growth over a period of time," said Vic Bageria, founder and CEO of SDS.
How the counting technology works
The visitor counting technology deploys sensors on the store ceiling and monitors customer movement in different departments. This technology increases the store's return on investments by seven to eight per cent.Vic Bageria, founder and CEO of Savant Data Systems, said: "Our statistics indicate that most shopping malls in Dubai have counting systems for shoppers. This percentage is, however, low in retail outlets and ranges between 15 to 20 per cent. This percentage is low compared to Europe and the US, where 80 per cent of stores have the technology in place."
"We have signed a project with an upcoming mall in Dubai Parks & Resorts and remain bullish about business from new properties and the opening of new stores in the region."
Today, the UAE has over 50 malls (additional 20 under construction to be delivered by 2018), making it the world's most visited shopping and lifestyle destination. Dubai welcomed more than 65 million visitors last year. Apart from these numbers, the UAE is home to over 210 nationalities. With the Expo 2020, these numbers are expected to double. All these will lead to more retailers adopting visitor counting technology to help them make the right business decisions.
"With the number of malls adding up and with an increase in visitor numbers, plus the local population, the need for any mall or retailers to implement technology becomes imperative. Retailers utilise our solution to look at their store conversions. They measure the footfall coming into the store and compare how many got converted to sales," said Bageria.
The solution also helps retailers understand their store's peak and off-peak hours, staff planning (plan staffing according to the traffic pattern to generate more sales) and measure marketing promotions. "We are now able to track how many people looked at the window display and entered the store [draw rate], which area of the store they spent most time in [heat map], how much time they spent in the store [occupancy], how long they queued to pay - all this information gives store visibility in real time," said Bageria.
SDS claims 60 per cent of its business comes from retailers. The company has an active presence in Saudi Arabia.
Currently, an SDS team of specialists is deployed in Venice for a heritage building. The company has also signed a mall project in Cambodia which will open by March end. With both these projects, SDS' footprint extends to 39 countries.
"The company plans to focus on boosting its RoI. We have recorded 25 per cent annual growth in 2015 and may touch 40 per cent in 2016," concluded Bageria.
By Sandhya D'Mello
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