Interview • 09.05.2022

Planning staff and assortment optimally

Interview about technologies for measuring visitor flows and movement patterns

State-of-the-art technologies enable retailers to measure the behavior of visitors in their stores and plan accordingly in terms of both staff and product range.

XPOLI is a provider of such technologies, which use sensors to create and analyze privacy-compliant records of visitor flows. Thomas Pellkofer, CEO of XPOLI, told us how retailers can benefit from these technologies.

Thomas Pellkofer, CEO of XPOLI
Thomas Pellkofer, CEO of XPOLI
Source: XPOLI

Mr. Pellkofer, what interest should retailers have in analysing visitor flows and movement patterns?

Thomas Pellkofer: There are several reasons for this. One of them is the forecasting of checkout utilization. We can currently look up to eleven minutes into the future to better coordinate staff deployment at the checkout and minimize waiting times for customers. By analysing the behaviour of customers in individual departments and aisles, we can identify how well customers find items or are addressed by their placement.

Thanks to our system, it is possible for the first time to identify the frequency with which certain product ranges are frequented, i.e., how often customers visit a particular aisle during their shopping trip, and what the situation is like at comparable stores.

How does the technology work?

Thomas Pellkofer: At the core of the innovation lies the development of a fully privacy-compliant sensor. By not recording characteristics - such as gender, age, skin colour, etc. - it is ensured that the privacy and personal rights of all customers are always respected. 

In addition, we create a 3D scan of the store with the aim of obtaining a digital twin in combination with the movements of the clientele. In this process, all paths of the customers present in the market are identified. By aggregating and identifying specific groups, we can now generate evaluations for retailers.

These differ both in terms of content and time: 

  • Live evaluations (improve service, shopping experience)
  • Post-evaluations (uncovering anomalies - raising potentials)
  • Predictive evaluations (identifying trends, modelling)
  • Future analytics (data driven KPI, enabling informed decisions and ensuring their successes in a timely manner)

What are the spatial requirements for this?

Thomas Pellkofer: There are no special spatial requirements. From small stores to multi-story retail spaces, there are no real limits. At the moment, however, we are still focusing on indoor solutions.

What insights do the collected data provide?

Thomas Pellkofer: Our technology provides data on space allocation (with simple measures, retailers can significantly increase the "conversion rate"), on assortment diversity (by displaying a "turnover" for certain articles and brands, the development of a sustainable assortment is supported) as well as live and post evaluations. Using these evaluations, retailers can make sensible changes to the placement of products (e.g., baked goods in the vicinity of the corresponding ingredients).

What costs should retailers expect for the installation of such a system?

Thomas Pellkofer: Retailers must pay a floor space-based entry fee per square meter. This covers part of the installation and system costs. Since retailers achieve an ROI after just a few months, we see moderate monthly fees as a good way to cover all our costs over the term.

What are the challenges to be considered in the analysis in relation to the GDPR?

Thomas Pellkofer: Given that the entire technology is designed according to the principle of "Privacy by Design", that the data collected does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about any individual characteristics of customers, and that only the data aggregated by the AI is passed on to merchants, XPOLI always ensures compliance with the GDPR.

For which kind of companies is it worthwhile to measure visitor flows?

Thomas Pellkofer: Behaviour measurement is applicable to supermarkets, shopping malls, drugstores, convenience stores, museums and even healthcare facilities. This new trend-setting technology enables brick-and-mortar retailers, just like online retailers, to find out everything relevant about their customers and to use this information not only to secure future sales, but also for proactive growth.

How can retailers quantify the success of the measurements and the investments made?

Thomas Pellkofer: Retailers can recoup their investment after just a few months. The live forecasting feature for the checkout alone leads to fewer aborted purchases and to optimized scheduling for employees, so that breaks, for example, do not have to be interrupted.

Interview: Matthias Groß

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