Q&A: How motion sensing tech improves retail sales Special

Posted Apr 7, 2019 by Tim Sandle
San Francisco based Motionloft has strategically placed sensors allows organizations and cities to take precise measurements of people and vehicle traffic counts, path tracking, and dwell times.
File photo: Customers at the J.C. Penney store in Westminster  Colorado
File photo: Customers at the J.C. Penney store in Westminster, Colorado
With permission by Reuters / Rick Wilking
Motionloft’s ViMo sensor is equally accurate indoors and outdoors and it operates in real-time at the edge. ViMo can analyze traffic counts to reduce city congestion. There are many applications of this technology. For example, cities and urban planners can learn from vehicle/pedestrian data to improve traffic flow; plus retailers are using path tracking to determine the impact of marketing campaigns.
To learn more, Digital Journal spoke with Motionloft CEO Joyce Reitman about the benefits of anonymous motion sensing data.
Digital Journal: How important is digital transformation for businesses?
Joyce Reitman: Digital technologies are revolutionizing the way business is conducted in our world today. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide spending on digital transformation (DX) will be nearly $2 trillion in 2022. This speaks to the speed and momentum in which digital technologies are changing the business landscape, and how much companies are relying on DX for business growth. At Motionloft, we provide insights on pedestrian and vehicle traffic data in real-time, and have witnessed the positive impact our data has had in helping clients make confident decisions and revealing new opportunities that only data can surface.
DJ: With big data specifically, how valuable is this?
Reitman: Data is an asset and big data can be thought of as lakes of data that can be used in advanced learning to give the user an edge in how they use their data. Businesses want to know everything they can about their customers, and the deeper they understand their customers, the more successful they will be in influencing behavior to benefit the business and customer experience. Data can be used in business modeling of all kinds, including speed of service, financial modeling and strategic programs in marketing. Big data can improve operational efficiencies such as staffing, logistics and planning physical spaces for optimum utilization. Using big data supports predictive decision making and brings the level of analysis more quickly to a better, more informed decision.
DJ: What can retail companies gain from location technology?
Reitman: It’s difficult for retailers to enhance the customer experience and grow store revenue if they can’t see and understand specific patterns around customer movement and engagement. How do they move throughout the store? Where do they stop? How long do they stay? How many converted? Motionloft helps retailers make informed data-driven decisions. Customer shopping habits can be uncovered and decisions can be made to positively impact site selection, marketing efforts and increase revenue.
DJ: What is the idea behind the Motionloft technology?
Reitman: Motionloft takes the physical movement of people and vehicles and turns it into digitized data. This data can then be inserted into a customer's business information system or used on it's own through the Motionloft analytics platform that is provided on one touch reports available through Motionloft. We ultimately help businesses understand their potential by providing them with highly accurate behavioral data with advanced classifiers in real-time to add an entirely new level of insight into the consumer experience.
DJ: What can retailers do with the data specifically?
Reitman: I’ll give you an example. When the NYU bookstore came to us they were gathering data using hand counts. These outdated results were infrequent, not allowing NYU to analyze the data, let alone make decisions on staffing, inventory and sales effectiveness. We quickly installed our ViMo sensors and the bookstore was soon able to collect detailed information about the traffic trends (indoor and outdoor), the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and whether check-out lanes are appropriately staffed. As a result, the bookstore now has an accurate barometer for the managers in each department to monitor their sales. The conclusions drawn from the Motionloft traffic data are also being used to determine optimal opening hours and the impact of sales associate training to overall cash register transactions.
DJ: How about real estate, how can the technology aid this sector?
Reitman: Motionloft brings clarity to commercial real estate transactions. As I mentioned previously, we deliver reliable indoor and outdoor solutions that arm real estate investors/owners, developers and managers with data around foot and vehicle traffic counts, dwell times, peak times and path tracking. The data, as with retail, informs decisions around site selection and helps owners and developers attract quality tenants. We take the guesswork out of making these important decisions.
When customer Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts needed to attract a top-tier retailer tenant to fill leasing spaces at their Sheraton Waikiki hotel, they deployed Motionloft sensors along Kalakaua Avenue, the main retail strip. By measuring the volume of pedestrian foot traffic with our sensors, Kyo-ya was able to gather valuable data for the marketing and leasing of available retail spaces, thus attracting the best suited tenants possible.
DJ: How was the technology developed?
Reitman: Motionloft technology was developed using computer vision software and a camera based sensor. This is a software and hardware solution that is end to end, with the reports and analytics delivered on a dashboard or through an API. The ViMo sensor is "edge" computing, which means only metadata is transferred, ensuring no personal identifiable information is stored or transmitted. The sensor works indoors and outdoors and is weatherized. The machine learning software uses a proprietary classifier library developed from what the sensor sees. Ongoing development is refining and adding features with the AI software, delivered through the Motionloft solution.
DJ: Are there any security concerns?
Reitman: As privacy becomes an increasing concern for citizens in the digital age, Motionloft designed its sensors and core technology with security in mind. Our ViMo sensors do not capture or generate personally identifiable information. The data is processed on the device itself (the edge), meaning no video is stored or transmitted, only metadata (X's and O"s) are delivered to the customer. Additionally, we follow the ISO’s official guidelines around data privacy standards.