2021 is finally upon us, although it looks quite different from what we may have predicted a few years back. The calamities of 2020 have accelerated the shift of many businesses to the digital realm in 2021, and the ways that people shop have changed dramatically. Although brick and mortar stores continue to prevail, operating procedures have transformed significantly to meet social distancing requirements and limited occupancy regulations.
For many people, an in-store and face-to-face shopping experience is preferable to the often confusing, uncertain, and impersonal online transactions that are dominating the digital economy today. It means that there will always be a demand for brick and mortar stores, and advancements in occupancy counting technology and retail analytics in 2021 are driving efficiency and customer experience like never before.
This article will explore why real-time occupancy counting matters in 2021 and how it’s helping retail stores and commercial enterprises remain competitive while providing a safe and pleasurable shopping experience for their in-store customers.
The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on retail stores
Many countries worldwide have implemented strict guidelines for retailers and in-person service providers to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. With little signs of the pandemic slowing down or disappearing any time soon, we are all adapting to the “new normal” by maintaining social distance, wearing masks in public spaces, and not gathering in crowded indoor areas. Retail stores and shopping malls should be particularly mindful of these regulations in order to protect staff and customers, and in some cases, they are required to do so by law.
Measures you can take to implement COVID-19 restrictions in retail stores
One of the most critical measures any store can take in 2021 is to effectively manage occupancy levels so that customers and staff have the space to maintain an appropriate social distance and prevent overcrowding and the prolific spread of the virus.
Thanks to people counting devices, stores can track, with up to 98% accuracy, how many people are in the building in real-time. Customers are detected and counted as they enter and leave the store for staff to have real-time occupancy data available.
Staff will also receive alerts when maximum capacity is met, allowing them to manage the entry of new customers if the store is too full and allocate staff where necessary to speed up checkout processes and manage queue length or hold-ups.
Benefits of occupancy management in retail stores
Monitoring the number of customers in the store at any given time to ensure social distancing protocols are met is not the only benefit you can get by installing people counters sensors. Combining them with a full retail analytics solution like Vemcount enables business owners to enhance their customer service levels, improve operational processes and allocation of resources.
Enhancing the customer experience in 2021 is particularly important for brick and mortar stores as the rise of digital retail stores continues to soar. By focusing on personalization, effective communication, and streamlining the customer journey through your store, with the help of occupancy counting and retail analytics, you are set to retain your foot traffic, boost your sales, and even save money while doing it.
Here are the top 5 benefits of live occupancy counters in 2021:
1️⃣ Compliance with COVID-19 regulations
As mentioned, the most significant benefit of real-time occupancy management during the COVID-19 pandemic is that it helps you comply with government regulations about limiting store occupancy to a certain number of customers at a time. While it is possible to use floor markers and signs to manage social distancing during quieter periods, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the occupancy limit and social distancing regulations during busy periods. A real-time occupancy counter makes it easy to manage occupation limits and stay in compliance with new regulations.
2️⃣ Enhance the customer experience
Real-time alerts from occupancy counters enable staff to attend to issues immediately and prevent them from happening again, whether it's a queue that is too long, an area of the store that is too crowded, or a customer that is leaving the store because of long wait times. It might mean tweaking the layout of your store, allocating extra staff during peak hours, or providing clear communication to customers about procedures in place and possible wait times to ease the burden as much as possible. The more information you have about customer behavior, the better equipped you are to create positive customer journeys.
3️⃣ Optimize staff scheduling and resource allocation
During these unprecedented times, accurately predicting demand can be tricky. With the predictive analytics capabilities of occupancy counters, you can gain insight into when your store is busiest, down to the hour of the day and up to the month of the year, to schedule employees more efficiently and better allocate resources to meet demands where appropriate and necessary. It will help you maximize the productivity of your staff and ensure that resources are not wasted.
4️⃣ Boost sales conversions
By linking up your occupancy counter with your POS system, you can get an accurate calculation of your sales conversion ratio. With this information, you have insight into the efficacy of particular marketing campaigns that lead to more sales conversions and then replicate them to boost sales.
5️⃣ Minimize expenses
With access to real-time and historical data, business owners can get a holistic view of when their business is most profitable and when it might be unnecessary to be open at all. This might lead to opening the store later or remaining open later to meet the demand better and save on energy and staff expenses.
In conclusion, an integrated occupancy management solution is a must-have for retail stores in 2021 if they want to remain competitive and keep their staff and customers safe.
If you want to find out more about Vemcount occupancy management and retail analytics, get in touch with us here to discuss your needs.