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  • Clint Engel

Visilytics store traffic counter gets positive reviews

Parent iConnect Group looks to have system in 500 furniture stores by yearend

STERLING, Va. — San Diego-based Jerome's and a Texas Ashley HomeStore licensee are among the retailers giving a thumbs up to new store traffic counter system Visilytics following the initial rollout.

Visilytics video feedA high-resolution video camera at the entrance of Ashley HomeStore in Victoria, Texas, is part of the new Visilytics system that uses facial recognition technology and more to automatically track customers and their traffic patterns
The system from retail technology firm iConnect Group uses high-definition Internet Protocol cameras to give retailers detailed information on consumer and buying group headcounts and in-store activity, while automatically subtracting out non-customers, such as delivery and other regular service visitors and store salespeople.

“The accuracy is about as good as it gets,” said Scott Perry, senior vice president of digital and information technology at San Diego-based Jerome’s, an early adopter of the new system.

Jerome’s is transitioning to Visilytics from infrared beam system where “all kinds of crazy things happen,” Perry said. He remembers an incident at one of the retailer’s stores on a windy day, when a faux tree near the entrance kept breaking the beam, giving the store a false consumer count — in the thousands.

The new system, he said, has not only proven to be accurate, but also it’s provided the kind of data Perry said he craves. And it integrates into Jerome’s hourly sales reports, giving the retailer a better gauge of why one location’s business may be running up or down over the course of a day.

“We can also attach transactions into the reporting and get a conversion rate by store by hour, which is incredible information to have,” he said.

Sterling, Va.-based iConnect announced plans for the new system this past fall as a replacement for its earlier SIA system. SIA used strategically placed WiFi routers in the store to count and follow consumers via their smartphones, tracking their time spent in various areas of the store.

But mobile device manufacturers started creating roadblocks around MAC (media access control) addresses for devices, making it impossible for the tracking system to follow the history of the device in the store (such as whether or not the consumer was a repeat visitor, for instance).

visilytics chartShopper analytics data from Visilytics.
Visilystics, on the other hand, replaces the need to track phones with high resolution IP zoom cameras, while giving iConnect and its retailer customers more data to work with. The front door cameras take continuous video of everyone who walks into the store. IConnect then strips the video files of the images, runs them through facial recognition and other algorithms and delivers details on the subjects — including whether or not they are adults or children or part of a larger shopper group. The system also can determine whether or not the subject has previously walked through the door over the past 90 days.

IConnect Chief Information Officer Amitesh Sinha said Visilytics has been rolled out to about 30 stores locations, including 15 Ashley HomeStores.

“We have a very aggressive goal to be in about 500 stores by the end of the year,” he said.

For detailed in-store tracking and heat mapping, he estimated a showroom ranging from 30,000 to 35,000 square feet would need one additional interior camera.

Ben Streiff, president of Victoria, Texas-based HomeStore licensee BPEC Enterprises, said his company moved to Visilytics from iConnect’s earlier system at the headquarters store and will be adding cameras there and at its second store, shortly.

One of the greatest benefits, he said, has been an improved “capture rate” — aligning what salespeople are recording as opportunities on their manual up sheets with the accurate counts coming from Visilytics. It has improved salesperson accountability, the accuracy of close rates and helped the retailer “make sure opportunities aren’t being left on the table,” Streiff said.

Initially, Sinha estimated the cameras would cost about $100 each, and iConnect was planning to charge a subscription fee of $50 per camera for new customers. But the company needed to upgrade to a better quality camera that cost retailers about $300, and the subscription fee for new user clients is now $100 a month per camera, he said.

That’s still reasonable “for the data and analytics I’m going to be able to get,” Jerome’s Perry said, “especially a year from now, when I can look back at year-over-year accurate numbers.

“That’s gold for me.”

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today
cengel@furnituretoday.com

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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