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Setting a Store Capacity Limit: How to Get Started

April 11, 2020

During the Coronavirus pandemic, many retailers are encouraged or mandated by state government officials to set store capacity limits to enforce social-distancing safety protocols. Even into the future as the economy recovers, many public-serving businesses will be faced with the same restrictions. Store capacity limit is a new problem for grocery stores to solve. At SenSource, we’re highly experienced in people counting applications and hope to help businesses navigate and solve their current situation.

Historically, grocery stores rely on point of sale, POS, data to measure key performance indicators such as busiest shopping times, average basket size, and average service time. Our people counting solutions weren’t needed in a traditional sense, because the conversion rate of a grocer is close to 100% as it’s a destination store. Apparel retailers, on the other hand, require foot traffic data to tell how many people entered their store but never made a purchase and tie that conversion metric with POS data for a complete view of store performance. A subset of tech-savvy grocery stores relies on our people counting technology to measure queue lengths at checkout and rate of people entering the store for efficient staffing levels and to deploy associates to checkout. But for the masses, setting a store capacity limit is a new key metric to track.

1) Setting a Store Capacity Limit

Regulations are changing daily, but at this time most government officials are leaving it up to businesses to set their own store capacity limit. Some are following rules based off people per square footage, others are using a percent of their fire code occupant load. And others use their best judgement to set a store capacity limit, because who knows a store’s limitations and staff safety standards better than the owners and executives?  Regardless of the approach, officials are requiring that a limit be decided upon and executed.

2) Preparing Your Store

Various technologies are available to tally customers and track store capacity limits. In this article, we’ll focus on a digitally-based manual method, such as our SAFESPACE handheld occupancy monitoring system. You can use multiple entrances for customers to enter and exit your store, however, you’ll want to dedicate a separate door for employees. As employees enter and exit for shifts, cart retrieval, grocery pick-up and delivery, it’s best to keep those tracks out of your real-time occupancy status. If your capacity limit includes both employees and customers, you can either track their coming and going or manually adjust the employee count at the start of each shift.

You’ll also want to dedicate smart devices for door attendants to track customers, such as a smart phone or tablet. SAFESPACE is simply accessed with a secure URL and login. Small family-owned stores may want to use an attendant’s personal device; however, we recommend a dedicated device for reliability.

3) Assigning Responsibilities

One of the best features of SAFESPACE is its ease of use. There’s no hardware to install or network configurations, so IT personnel isn’t needed to get started. You’ll simply need to decide who has administrator access to the account to view all activity and reports; who has limited admin access to view a filtered-level of account activity; and attendants who only have access to count customers at their assigned location.       

4) Getting Started with Measuring Store Capacity Limit

Unlike many other tally counting solutions, SAFESPACE includes a full set of reporting tools. First, your company account is created and admin users are assigned. Next, admins invite additional users with varying roles and most importantly, set their store capacity limit across the account or for each location. Then attendants log into SAFESPACE on a smart device and use the up and down arrows to start counting customers. Finally, admins can view occupancy status at each location, view historical data and report on capacity compliance.

We all hope our country is on the other side of this pandemic sooner rather than later, but unfortunately there is no way of knowing exactly when that will be. For that reason, our solution is set as a monthly subscription. Should you be interested in a long-term solution that frees up resources, we suggest learning more about our automated occupancy monitoring solution.