Visitor Counting Systems Overview

    In modern retail, a conversion indicator is used to motivate sellers. How many of the people who came have managed to turn into buyers. How many people made a purchase is not difficult to calculate. But how many people came into the store? Below is a general overview of existing solutions for counting customers with my thoughts on the pros and cons of a particular system.



    Systems on the market can be divided according to the principle of operation:
    • Systems operating on an infrared ray;
    • Systems operating on thermal sensors;
    • Systems with video sensors.

    Infrared systems.
    The system consists of an IR transmitter and an IR receiver. An infrared ray goes between them. As soon as a person crosses it, the sensor is triggered.




    Horizontal systems are divided into unidirectional and bidirectional. Unidirectional - there is only one beam, when it crosses, the counter is triggered. Bidirectional - there are two beams, depending on the order of their intersection, it counts at the entrance and at the exit.

    According to the type of power supply, infrared sensors are divided into autonomous and non-autonomous. Autonomous are powered by batteries, not autonomous - from the mains.

    By the type of connection, they can be divided into those connected to a computer and not connected to a computer.

    By type of installation - horizontal, vertical. Vertical - installation height not more than 3 m. Horizontal - passage width not more than 5 m. (In fact no more than 2 m).

    Pluses - low cost (the cost of the kit is from 3500-10000r depending on the configuration), ease of installation and configuration. When connected to a computer, it is possible to build analytical reports, up to direct data transfer to the office over the network. It is possible to integrate this type of systems into the theft gate.

    Minuses- high error, without connecting to a computer it is possible to view reports only by day, and not by hour, and the store manager does it. Easily deceived by sellers (beam overlap). With autonomous power, frequent battery replacement is required (on average once every three months). There is a possibility of using non-standard batteries in the sensor, whose cost is much higher and more difficult to find. (although in appearance it seems like the same AA batteries). The software often crashes, self-reinstalling software without calling the vendor is often problematic. Without a constant fee, the technical support of the software is rather weak.

    General impression- It’s very inaccurate and in conjunction with a computer is a very moody system that is easy enough to fool. But inexpensive. Suitable if you need approximate data with a not very intense flow of customers.

    If the salary of sellers depends on conversion, then I do not recommend using a system of this type.

    Systems operating on thermal sensors

    A person is visible as a heat spot. At the same time, double counting of visitors is excluded, as in the case of a beam intersection. It is possible to connect directly to a local network with data transfer to the office bypassing the computer. It is possible to connect to a computer.
    Installation height from 3 to 11 m.
    Pros - higher accuracy, independence from lighting, it is difficult to fool such a system.
    Cons - it is impossible to use near thermal curtains. They give a big error if the entrance to the store is near the entrance to the street.

    In my opinion, the solution is not universal, it has a number of installation restrictions. The average price of an order sensor is several tens of thousands of rubles.

    The general impression is that in large retail chains, where store configurations can vary greatly, I would not use them. But to equip a large shopping center, where it is clearly pre-registered in the architectural design is quite acceptable.

    Systems operating on video sensors.
    These systems are based on sensors with video cameras (one camera in 2D and two in 3D sensor).



    pros- high accuracy of counting, the ability to transfer data directly to the office through the network, bypassing the computer. Ability to build reports in a slice up to 5 minutes. In the case of 3D sensors, you can approximately estimate the growth of customers and remove children from traffic. It is almost impossible to deceive such a system. The accuracy of the calculation is 95-97%.

    Cons - Sensors are dependent on lighting. In poor lighting conditions, accuracy decreases, 2D sensors may mistakenly cast shadows as people, 3D sensors may consider reflections as people.
    However, in 3D sensors this is compensated by a flexible system of settings.
    It is possible to set up a “buffer zone”; a person walking around the trading floor will not be counted twice if he walks near the entrance. Those. a man came in, stood in the buffer zone and left. In this case, it will not be counted (in the picture below it is outlined in yellow).
    The average cost of a 3D sensor is 70,000- 90,000 p.


    General impression - In my opinion, 3D sensors are the most universal and accurate solution, which is actively implemented in many retail chains. Given the high accuracy of the calculation (95-97%), the data from these sensors can be used in calculating the bonus part of the salary of sellers.

    Conclusion .
    The system of counting visitors should be selected based on the tasks.
    It should be remembered - after installation, the system must be maintained, and this is also an expense. Sometimes it’s better to put the system more expensive, but in the long run, maintenance will be much cheaper.
    And if tasks change, then a system change may be needed. Therefore, it is better to think about the future in advance.

    If you are faced with the task of approximately estimating the flow of buyers, without using data to calculate sellers bonuses, then I would recommend installing an inexpensive system of horizontal counting by IR beam without connecting to a PC, without autonomous power. In this option, there will be data with a high error, but at a minimum cost. When a failure occurs, the sensors are easy to replace, they are not tied to computer equipment. The system consists of one node - the sensor itself. However, the number of visitors for the whole day will be known, without a breakdown by the hour, and the manager may forget to send them or drive in the wrong number.

    If you are faced with the task of estimating the number of visitors with a minimum error and using this data to calculate bonuses to sellers, then it is better to install 2D / 3D sensors. You will get high accuracy, sellers will not be able to influence the data in any way, the data goes directly to the office, has much less installation restrictions (you can equip all stores with almost no such individual features as thermal curtains, ceiling height, entrance group width, remoteness from going outside).
    The system consists of two nodes - a sensor and a power supply. In the absence of communication with the office, the sensor can work autonomously for up to 10 days, storing data on the internal memory.
    However, at the same time in the office you will have to install a server that will receive and process this data. Or order a data processing service from a third-party organization.

    I would not recommend using intermediate solutions. By intermediate solutions, I mean IR sensors connected to a computer via a radio channel.
    You will need to call third-party specialists and give them access to a PC, install additional software, and train staff to use it.
    Also, such a system has more nodes that may fail (the sensors themselves, the base-receiver of data from the sensors, computer, software on the computer). In this case, data is transmitted from the sensor to the base over the air, which reduces the reliability of the system.
    If you have 1-2 stores, then this solution is still acceptable. For a large network, it is not suitable.

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