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How can Artificial Intelligence (AI) help retailers comply with Covid-19 physical distancing limits?

Retail in Australia has been turned on its head in recent weeks with COVID-19 forcing businesses to rapidly adapt to the ever-increasing rule changes that are designed to protect our community. Sadly, so many venues have already been forced to close either due to the government's prohibition on social venues such as restaurants and pubs or for many retailers they have had to make the crushing decision to shut their stores due to the steep decline in sales in recent weeks.

Those retailers who are continuing to operate, keeping the supply of critical goods and services available for our community (a huge thank you!) are now having to navigate the new physical distancing limits of 1 person for every 4 squared metres in their stores while encouraging customers to keep 1.5metres away from each other. In recent days we have seen the respective state police enforcing these laws, which are a criminal offence and attract very heavy fines for both individuals and corporations who breach these laws. For example, in NSW the fines for any corporation breaching the rules is a maximum of $55,000 and a further $27,000 for each day the offence continues.

The overwhelming majority of retailers are trying to do the right thing, quickly adapting their operating procedures to comply with the physical distancing rules by putting tape on the floors to guide customers on where to stand or in the last few days many are making customers queue outside the front of the store with staff then manually counting the number of customers that are entering and exiting the store, once the retailer gets close to their venue limit they move to one customer in one customer out system.

Whilst these manual measures are commendable and quite frankly amazing that retailers have been able to respond so quickly, the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that these physical distancing measures will need to be in place for at least the next six months and once we are through to the other side of this challenging period (this too will pass) the restrictions are likely to be slowly eased off in the same way they were introduced, meaning retailers and physical venues will still need to be able to measure and manage customer limits for some time after the peak of the crisis.

One of the biggest operational challenges with implementing this type of manual people-counting procedures is that it falls to the very same frontline employees that are already under enormous pressure just to keep the shelves filled or who are dealing with frustrated and sometimes emotional customers (Toilet paper-gate!). Like any manual process, manual people counting is open to human error and mistakes, increasing the risk for the retailer, their employees and customers alike. And let's not forgot, with the size of fines associated with breaching the new rules, there is an additional financial and indeed reputational risk that retailers must now consider and proactively manage.

There is an alternative to relying on these error-prone manual processes, by using Artificial intelligence to analyses anonymous video footage from the existing CCTV (or a low-cost WebCam) retailers can automate the people counting in their stores. Wilson AI provides an Artificial Intelligence Audience Analytics solution that can automate this manual process of people counting, resulting in reduced labour costs involved in managing this critical but cumbersome process, enabling retailers to proactively manage customer visitation numbers, help evidence compliance with the new physical distancing rules to the authorities and most importantly protect your employees and customers.

The Wilson AI Audience Analytics solution uses the latest computer vision AI to analyse live video footage from each entrance of the store, this powerful solution provides retailers with a real-time, 100% anonymous and highly accurate foot traffic count including counting the net number of people entering and exiting a particular store entrance, zone or multiple entrances combined, pedestrian traffic direction measurement and time-based foot traffic density. In addition, you can measure and analyse customer demographic data including age range, gender and emotion enabling retailers to understand customer satisfaction in real-time. All of these insights can be provided in an easy to read dashboard with live alerts available for key metrics, warning you when customer numbers are reaching a preset limit.

If you would like to find out more about how Wilson AI Audience Analytics solution can help you comply with physical distancing rules and manage your customer experience please contact us to explore the solutions.

Please stay safe, physically distance and if you need any further information on COVID-19 please visit https://www.health.gov.au for all the latest news.


Are your customers happy?

Written by Scott Wilson Co-Founder & CEO September 2019

Who are my ideal customers? How do I get them to purchase my product or service? How do I know my customers are happy with my product or service? Irrespective of the business you are in, if you deal with customers at some point, you will have asked yourself these critical and sometimes challenging questions.

Businesses all over the world are being challenged every day trying to answer these questions, add in the threat of disruption from online competitors and things can start to look grim. 

Customers are increasingly seeking out brands that go beyond simply delivering a product, customers want to form a connection with brands that offer an experience or that align to their needs and wants, they are looking for brands that make them ‘feel’ good about themselves.

In the past, finding a competitor’s product required effort on behalf of the customer. Now customers are connected 24/7 with Siri or Google waiting for their command to find the best restaurant or retail store “near me”. Customers ultimately have the power to choose when and where they invest their limited time, money and most importantly their limited attention span.

In this connected, data-driven world, whether you are a retailer or restaurateur, businesses should be gathering and analysing the huge volumes of available customer data, such as sales transactional data, website data, customer reviews or store foot traffic. However, it would seem this is not a practice most businesses partake in.

Despite businesses having a treasure trove of data, to this day one of the most common question that remains unanswered for many businesses both big and small is “are my customers happy with the product or service that I am providing?” This question becomes even harder to answer when you have multiple locations and staff members potentially serving the customer to varying standards. 

Businesses often focus on the rational and logical things that they can easily analyse such as price or the product features, yet people are driven by their emotions, we buy based on how a product makes us feel, we don’t just buy things for their price, emotions drive action like nothing else on earth. Why does a consumer willingly purchase a luxury handbag for $2,500 yet they rationally know it only cost $50 to make? It’s all down to how those brands make us feel about ourselves.

Is it possible to know your customer's emotion in real-time? Today it is, with the help of Artificial Intelligence. Wilson A.I. is helping businesses to understand their customer's emotions using the latest Computer Vision Anonymous Audience Analytics AI, businesses can measure their customers emotions, foot traffic count, dwell times, age range and gender in real-time. This demographic data can then be joined with existing data sets such as Point of Sale or CRM data to understand critical metrics such as in-store sales conversion, product range optimisation, store hot spots, dead zones and ultimately who is buying your products and who is not…

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