What are the numbers and the impact?
We’ve all had that moment; Get out the door, locked it and realise you forgot your bag, sunglasses or the shopping list. In a retail business environment, a similar scenario can be painted. There is a total number of assets. In this case shopping carts. Of those, so many are in use inside the store. And so many are outside in the parking lot or surrounding area. The challenge is keeping track. When should a staff member gather the shopping trollies? Where are the shopping trollies? How many trollies are missing? When do they go missing? And last but not least, what other data can we gather simultaneously?
Lets have a quick look at some numbers:
- 520,000 abandoned shopping trolleys returned to UK supermarkets in 2017 (1,400 per day).
- Industry estimates actual abandoned shopping trolley numbers closer to one million per year.
- Cost to British business is £35m per year (more than £95,000 every day).
- 40% of UK shoppers do not think there is a problem with trolley theft.
These are big numbers, and an area worth focusing on. These statistics can be a headache to local authorities. Wayward trollies present potential hazards, with negative environmental and social impact. But there is something retail stores can do to help mitigate the situation. And the bonus — there are benefits to the business as well with an Indoor Positioning System (IPS) solution. How can an IPS help reduce these numbers, and perhaps equally important, what can an IPS provide in form of data to benefit the business?
How can IPS help?
An IPS defines the boundaries of your retail store and track not only where the trollies are, but when a trolly leaves the defined area. Set up a dashboard, and you can monitor how many trollies are available at any given time. How many are in use inside the store, and how many have left the building. Set up some triggers and you have the beginnings of an automated tracking system.
That alone is a great tool to get control, but you can further increase the value of implementing an IPS. Now that the trollies have trackers fitted they also talk to each other. This provides proximity tracing. A great tool to have in these pandemic days. In addition to reporting positions, you can also track elapsed time at any given location. This gives you the data necessary to generate heat maps. Use this information to help uphold social distancing or identifying high risk areas.
Heat maps, what more can you use them for?
Heat maps can be used for more than monitoring social distancing. There are several benefits and applications of heat maps. Using heat maps, you can extrapolate several key data points to help manage your store.
- Which sections of the store are bottlenecks
- Optimize product placement based on customer location/time on target
- Use activity to gauge peak hours
- Automatically call for assistance to manage growing queues
And why stop at trollies when you can easily add trackers to shopping baskets as well. Weigh the needs for trollies versus baskets. Are trollies used more frequently during the morning, afternoon or evening compared to baskets. You can find out with the data you are gathering.
Not only are you reducing loss of assets by tracking the whereabouts of your trollies and baskets. The data gathered can improve the layout of your store with better product placement. Monitor peak times and evaluate work hours and staff requirements. Not to mention security of customers, which is potentially something that will be important for the foreseeable future. And lest we forget the potential value it adds to the community.