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Santa Rosa Ski and Sports Uses Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Tags to Track Customer Traffic

The company is one of thousands of small to midsize specialty retailers employing the Swarm Portal solution to measure the quantity of customer visits, and pair that information with sales data to analyze shopper behavior.
By Claire Swedberg

Santa Rosa Ski and Sports, located in Santa Rosa, Calif., began using the Swarm technology as a Wi-Fi solution about six months ago, but now has begun testing the BLE version, says Noah Lowry, the store's co-owner. Lowry and his partners purchased the business nearly two years ago, he adds, and have focused on streamlining processes, and on taking advantage of technology resources available for small businesses.

"As a ma-and-pa business, it's important to be able to focus on data that matters," Lowry explains. By knowing the day and time that each person enters and leaves his store, and the sales corresponding with that traffic, he can better strategize not only the use of his sales force, but also the placement of his merchandise. Santa Rosa Ski and Sports opted to install the BLE Portal at the doorway in such a manner that the system could detect the number of people entering the store. At the same time that the company installed the BLE Portal in May, it also deployed the earlier Wi-Fi version, facing onto the sidewalk, in order to track the number of pedestrians who walked past but did not enter. By collecting data about two types of traffic, the system could help the ski shop better identify the percentage of traffic entering the store, as well as when this takes place. In that way, Lowry says, "the software can track the number of walk-bys and the number of actual shoppers."

Swarm's Ryan Denehy
The traffic data is sent to the Portal cloud-based server, which the retailer can access at any time to determine not only how many people were in the store at a specific time, but also the history of that traffic over the course of days and weeks. In addition, the system pulls data from the POS software on the store's server, and then provides analytics based on the quantity of shoppers, as well as the percentage of those individuals' visits that led to a sale. "This gives us a more magnified look at what we're doing," Lowry states.

Because the two Portal devices have not been in place very long, Lowry says he is still evaluating the technology's benefits. "We're starting to see value," he reports, based on the data that the company has amassed to date, illustrating when the heaviest traffic enters the store, for example. Lowry says the firm intends to explore the feasibility of utilizing the technology to reach out to shoppers as well.

In the future, Swarm intends to release a version of the Portal tag that acts as a Bluetooth beacon by transmitting a unique ID number that can be captured by a shopper's mobile phone (assuming an app has been downloaded to enable this transaction). This allows the phone, in turn, to transmit its location data to the appropriate server, based on a particular beacon's ID, in order to receive coupons, product information or other relevant data.

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