Traffic Counts at PetSmart: Improving the Customer Experience by Syncing Traffic and Labor

by ShopperTrak Editors on 09-08-16

PetSmart, the more than 1,450-location specialty retailer dedicated to pets and pet parents, upholds its mission to help passionate associates bring pet parents closer to their pets so that they can live more fulfilled lives. Dustin Baldwin, PetSmart’s director of store operations, ensures associates have the tools necessary to execute that mission with every customer, which is why PetSmart embarked on the task of introducing traffic counting technology to store locations.

Scheduling According To Traffic
Traffic information allows retailers to effectively schedule store associate staff , drive conversion, drive performance, and ultimately provide a better customer experience. Without it, retailers are left guessing about everything from labor scheduling to merchandising. “We lacked visibility to understand the number of individuals coming in and out of PetSmart’s doors,” explains Baldwin. “We did not understand our customers’ shopping patterns, which affected labor scheduling. Our associates’ schedules weren’t in sync with traffic patterns, especially as those patterns change throughout the seasons. For example, we understand that we experience a morning rush on Black Friday when the doors open, but we also need to monitor secondary and tertiary increases in traffic throughout the day.”


The answer to PetSmart’s problem was an accurate people-counting solution. As such, key leaders from across the company collaborated and chose the ShopperTrak Perimeter Traffic Solution. As a result of the implementation, PetSmart now has insight into traffic pattern data and access to additional metrics, which help to reduce shopper abandonment and increase sales. Choosing the solution involved departments across the enterprise including store operations, IT, real estate, and customer experience/marketing because the traffic data is vital to every part of PetSmart’s business. For example, marketing relies on traffic data to help determine the success and effectiveness of a special promotional program, and the operations team uses the data to determine right-staffing at the store level. With about 80 new stores opening in 2016, the real estate team can leverage the traffic trends as a variable for the site selection for future stores.

We’re using dual-lens devices, which have been installed above customer-facing facade doorways and count traffic entering and exiting the building,” says Baldwin. “They are calibrated in such a way that enables them to count individuals above a certain height, and they are not affected by outside environmental factors. This gives us access to traffic information that, when combined with labor and POS/sales data, will allow us visibility for enhanced decision making to drive the business forward.”

“We now regularly monitor our customer-to-associate ratio to assess the availability of associate assistance for each and every customer.”Dustin Baldwin director of store operations, PetSmart

Traffic counters were installed in all stores. PetSmart is in the middle of its year-long incubation period with the new solution, which will serve as a baseline in order to deliver pure year-over-year data comparison.

“Traffic data allows us to see when customers are shopping our stores, and therefore, we can better staff our stores during peak periods to drive a better customer experience,” explains Baldwin. “We now regularly monitor our customer-to-associate ratio to assess the availability of associate assistance for each and every customer. Further, we’ve strengthened ownership of the store — individual store leaders have more tools at their disposal to lead their business and drive results.”

A version of this article originally appeared in Innovative Retail Technologies.

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