Footfall and What it Means for Your Business

Customers 15 minute read 5th October 2020

We can say “Business is good” when an establishment is always busy. “Busy” in this sense means there’s a steady flow of customers day in and day out, or there’s considerable/heavy footfall. Footfall is just one way of measuring the success of a business, and it has to be analyzed alongside other metrics. Here’s everything you need to know about footfall and why it matters in retail and hospitality.

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What is footfall?

In business, footfall is defined as the number of people entering an establishment at any given time. Also referred to as foot traffic, it can be measured per hour, day, week, or month. Footfall is one of the key performance indicators (KPI) used by businesses that heavily rely on customer visits to drive business — businesses such as retail and hospitality.

What footfall means for your business: What can you learn from it?

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Counting the number of people in your area at any given time, as well as the number of people that go in and out of your establishment can be useful in a number of ways:

  • Identify a good business location You can anticipate how busy an area is likely to be if you’re considering starting a business there.
  • Anticipate seasonal demand You can predict future demand based on seasonal changes in footfall.
  • As a key performance indicator You can gain a better understanding of what drives in store sales or bookings; evaluate the effectiveness of your promotional strategies, online reputation management, and loyalty program; and identify your best and worst selling hours/days. The popularity/unpopularity of your establishment may also be indicative of its aesthetic appeal and accessibility. Additionally, you can analyze your performance against that of your competitors based on foot traffic.
  • Help improve visitor experience How can you increase footfall? How can you better manage heavy foot traffic? Are there other ways that you can improve customer satisfaction to boost your reputation?
  • Gain valuable customer insights What do they like to do when they visit? Are there areas most customers prefer over others? How long do they stay? What times of the day and days of the week is footfall heaviest and lightest? The data can be used to appropriately match marketing campaigns with the varying footfall patterns.
  • Evaluate current occupancy Do you need to make more space for customers? Do you need to change your interior layout?
  • Optimize daily operations Do you need more or fewer staff during certain hours/days? Do you need to re-evaluate your hours of operation? Foot traffic will help you match your staffing pattern to demand more effectively.

Understanding your footfall and what it means is such an important task. It helps you identify how many opportunities you have to increase sales at any time of the day, and by comparing footfall to your revenue, you’ll quickly discover where and when you’re missing out.

Calculating footfall

Calculating footfall does not involve the manual counting of people — at least, not anymore. The process can now be automated and, therefore, far more accurate. Whatever system you use, the most relevant footfall metrics you need to focus on are as follows:

  • Number of people who enter your premises
  • Repeat vs unique visitors
  • Frequency of repeat visitors
  • Number of people who pass by without entering
  • Average time spent in store per person
  • Percentage of visitors who leave your store within five minutes (similar to a website bounce rate)

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For both retail and hospitality, the aforementioned elements are key to analyzing your footfall data. These data will help you determine your sales conversion rate, average shopping times, and average queueing times; identify hotspots or popular areas in your establishment, as well as dead zones; and compare footfall and conversion rates throughout the day, daily, weekly, and monthly, as well as at different properties.

To collect accurate footfall data, you’ll need to invest in some technology. Thankfully, there are devices and platforms entering the market constantly, and they’re relatively affordable thanks to the commoditization of sensor technology.

Here are the most common footfall measurement systems.

Infrared cameras

These cameras emit an invisible infrared beam across the entrance to your establishment. Footfall is counted every time a customer crosses the beam. Today’s infrared systems are intelligent enough to guess whether a count is genuine or is the result of some other disruption.

Thermal scanners

Thermal technology is generally more accurate than infrared in collecting footfall data. It monitors and records the body heat of customers who are present within the premises. A thermal scanner can detect individual body heat whether it’s coming from a single customer or a group of visitors.

WiFi analytics

If you’re offering free WiFi using a WiFi system that includes marketing tools, you should have access to analytics that visualize your traffic and provide key insights into your busiest and least busy days. Calculating footfall via your guest WiFi might not be as accurate as per-person counting; your WiFi system may best be used as a complement to a dedicated footfall measurement system. The WiFi marketing tools at your disposal can provide another level of insight that you can use to analyze your footfall data.

Stereo depth imaging

Regarded as one of the most accurate methods for calculating footfall, stereo camera setups can cope with high volumes of traffic, multiple zones, and even shadow counting.

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How to increase footfall in your restaurant or retail establishment

With a better understanding of how calculating footfall and analyzing footfall data are used in business analytics, you should also have a better appreciation of the importance of increasing footfall in your establishment.

How to increase footfall in a restaurant

  • Point the way boldly and clearly. How obvious is it that you exist? Make sure your restaurant is visible with outdoor seating, bold branding, signs, and floor graphics to increase footfall.
  • Be proactive. Invite customers the old fashioned way — by asking them to come in.
  • Stage events. Have you ever held a local networking event at your restaurant? If not, you could be missing out on an opportunity to increase footfall exponentially. This is also an ideal solution if you’re looking to target a new demographic.
  • Create a loyalty program. Customers appreciate being appreciated. This will not only boost repeat visits, but also deliver new customers.
  • Focus on driving numbers at peak times. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner — these are obviously your key times of the day for bookings; but are you shouting loudly enough about what you have to offer? Introduce special menus, vegan options, and free coffee refills for breakfast — anything to turn a few more heads and drive more traffic in your direction.
  • Learn from your analytics. Look at the times you’re not busy but when the footfall in your area is high. Why aren’t people entering? If your footfall bounce rate is high, put your customer hat on and walk in yourself. What is putting people off?

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How to increase footfall in a retail establishment

  • Make your shop front stand out. This is especially important if competition for attention and customers is high in your area. Depending on your target customers, make your shop front as attractive and attention-grabbing as possible.
  • Team up with other businesses in the area. If you’re selling souvenirs, for example, you can ask local lodging establishments if they’d be willing to display your leaflets and offer to do the same for them.
  • Get your products out there — literally. Offer samples or hand out flyers to passersby outside your store and in nearby streets. Get creative with an A-board or with pavement graphics to promote special offers.
  • Focus on building customer loyalty. Offer discounts or other incentives to returning customers. Give loyal customers the VIP treatment they deserve.
  • Check out the competition. This is especially important if your competition has a higher footfall than you do. Find out what they’re doing right and find a way to match it while staying authentic to your brand.
  • Boost your reputation. Leverage social media to promote your brand; encourage customers to post reviews online and to tag your business whenever possible. Strengthen your online community.

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Using guest WiFi to boost footfall

When used alongside other key metrics, footfall data are a good indicator of whether a business is growing, declining, or at a standstill. Your establishment’s foot traffic will also tell you how well your business is performing in terms of converting visitors into sales. In order to get the opportunity for conversion, you must first encourage people to come in. Offering not only free WiFi but an enhanced guest WiFi experience can help you do just that.

With the right WiFi system, you can have a WiFi marketing platform that you can customize to meet your visitors’ connectivity needs, as well as your business needs. A fully customizable WiFi system, like Beambox, is a sophisticated WiFi marketing platform that enhances the guest WiFi experience and gives you access to a variety of tools to help you boost business, build customer loyalty, and gain insights into your various customer segments.

You can have end-to-end control of the guest WiFi experience to make it work to your advantage. Build your restaurant email list or SMS subscriber list via a customized captive portal. You can also limit WiFi access, offer discounts, automatically prompt guests to leave an online review, or drive them to your social media pages.

Beambox is an all-in-one WiFi solution that accomplishes all of the above and more. We have an existing client base of over 3,000 venues, and our customizable WiFi marketing solutions have been used in impressive and rewarding ways. You can drive sales with time-sensitive deals and promos for your restaurant, boost social engagement through Instagram or Facebook contests, and climb up on online ranking platforms through real-time customer reviews. Accelerate your business growth — start your Beambox free trial today!


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