Columnists

Squirrel Spotting: Not Head-Counting Is a Head Scratcher

ColumnistsJun 20, 2023

Squirrel Spotting: Not Head-Counting Is a Head Scratcher

Peter Smith can’t understand why retailers don’t want to know when people are coming into their store and if they are buying.

National Jeweler columnist and jewelry sales expert Peter Smith
Peter Smith is an industry consultant, speaker, sales trainer, and author. He can be reached via email at TheRetailSmiths@gmail.com.
One of the great advantages of not being young is I realize how little I know, and I’m all for it.

There’s rarely a day that passes when I don’t find myself contemplating the greatest wonders of the world, like retail.

I wonder about the practice of trying to be all things to all people, or about the ninth wonder of the world, otherwise known as hiring salespeople.

I wonder why any retailer on any planet, known or unknown, would ever not reorder their bestsellers. Yes, I mean the very products that bring us to our own little promised land of sales and profitability.

And since I first arrived in this complex and wonderous world many decades ago, I’ve wondered why any retailer, again on any planet, would not install visitor traffic counters in their stores. 

What could retailers not like about having the data on how many people visit their stores on a given day?

What’s not to love about knowing the time patterns of store traffic to better manage staff schedules and to hire appropriately? 

Or, are you still hiring everyone to work every hour you are open? Hmm … 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Where is the lack of appeal in knowing what your conversion rate is, meaning the number of sales you convert from your total visitors on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis?

Is there simply no value in knowing how your conversion rates compared to the same period the previous year?

Perhaps you’ve concluded that knowing such information is not relevant because your staff, the UPS driver, and the FedEx guy all use the front door and skew the visitor counts. Did they use a different door last year?

Perhaps it’s just prohibitively expensive, and having that crazy good information just isn’t worth the cost?

I called my friend, Mark Ryski, CEO of HeadCount, and you just might be surprised at how very affordable the camera and installation costs are.

And the monthly costs to operate thereafter? It wouldn’t keep you in Starbucks for two weeks.

In “Remarkable Retail,” Steven Dennis wrote, “Historically, many retailers have been intuition-rich and data-poor. Or even if a decent amount of data was compiled, it was hard to work with or was ignored. For the merchant princes, more times than not, their mantra was ‘In gut we trust.’” 

So, why is it that retailers aren’t rushing to install visitor traffic counters immediately? 

Dang if I know. I’m not young enough!

Happy retailing, and always great to hear from you at TheRetailSmiths@gmail.com.

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