How do stores track the numbers of people that pass by in a given day in order to determine where they should set up shop and what hours they should be open? This was the question that led Motionloft founder and CEO Jon Mills to develop a “real world analytics company” that does “what Google Analytics does, but for the offline world.”
The most commonly used method of tracking people traffic can be inefficient and often inaccurate.
“Right now, they send someone out to count by hand, three or four hours of real data about people moving around, but that doesn’t show the whole picture. They could be missing a spike in the morning or afternoon.” Mills remarked. The largest obstacle to building a better method of collecting this data was, of course, the technology.
“Collecting sensor analytics that compare data with other locations is very difficult. It’s the kind of problem that most people don’t want to tackle in hardware.” Mills explained. But like any good entrepreneur Mills didn’t see a problem: he saw a business.
After pitching his idea to an investor he knew, Mills was able to secure funding quickly and begin developing a sensor technology that would replace hand counting. The first generation of the sensor, released a year and a half ago, sits inside a store window and continuously analyzes video of the street to gather analytics and relay it to a database in real-time. And it is able to tell the difference between a pedestrian and a vehicle.
This information is incredibly valuable to retailers for determining where to locate, what the best hours are for their businesses, and what hours they need to staff up and down to keep up with spikes in people traffic. It’s also very valuable to property owners who are trying to decide what to charge for their location as they can compare their people traffic with other locations.
The Motionloft service is subscription based, with packages starting at $279 a month. A typical package includes a server that gives you the analytics on your block, which you can view via a dashboard. Mills mentioned that they also do a tailored service. “It depends on locations you have, what kind of data you’d like.” Sometimes people are interested in gathering data on the second floors of their buildings.
The dashboard was also a challenge to develop, as it required taking a lot of pieces of data and creating a bigger picture. Motionloft developed a “Business Hours” tool that lets customers input their retail hours to see if there are any large spikes in people traffic occurring outside of them. They also give customers access to a spreadsheet with all of the analytics, for those who enjoy being more intimate with the numbers. And there’s the “Marketing Report” that gives individuals hunting for new locations the ability to compare several at a time.
The 2nd generation sensor will be launching next month and has been developed to stand up to the elements so that it can be placed outside to gather even more accurate data.
We’re looking forward to hearing about the strange patterns this is likely to reveal in New York late night shopping habits.