An In-Depth Guide to Foot Traffic Data in 2022

At a Glance: This guide will provide definitions and concepts crucial to understanding foot traffic data, as well as actionable insights and data samples that can be leveraged and interpreted. By the end of this article, you should be well on your way to understanding the value of location data, everyday use cases, and next steps.

What is foot traffic data?

Foot traffic refers to the presence and movement of individuals at a location. Higher foot traffic indicates that customers are frequently visiting a location, such as a store, and that sales will usually increase as a result.

Foot traffic data refers to data provided by anonymous mobile devices (or other IoT technology) that shows the number of people in a particular region at specific times of the day is called foot traffic data, also known as footfall data. This data and its sources can be broken down into two categories, macro level, and micro level foot traffic data.

Macro level foot traffic data refers to data sourced by GPS via mobile devices within a specified area. This is considered the most accurate and dependable method of foot traffic data collection. The most common source of macro level foot traffic data is apps that share aggregated location data.

Micro level foot traffic data refers to data sourced within a single brick and mortar location. Common sources of micro level foot traffic data are:

  • Wifi
  • Bluetooth
  • Sensors, like in-store retail counters

Again, this data is most reliable when acquired in real-time at the macro level.

What are some common applications of foot traffic data?

foot traffic

Data on foot traffic is commonly used to plan marketing campaigns, inform investment decisions, and perform in-depth competitor analysis. By exposing the volume and length of visits, this data can inform better decision making for businesses and help them determine whether sales conversion rates are in line with expectations. It assists in maximizing resources within each shop, hiring staff and scheduling, planning supply, and placing physical products or advertisements.

Foot traffic data is used by a variety of businesses to enable foot traffic analytics, helping them understand their customers and prospective customers.

In retail and financial services, for instance, you could utilize foot traffic data to enhance other forms of customer data, like revenue, work and home data, and demographic data. Real estate, healthcare, insurance, and logistics are other industries that can benefit from foot traffic analysis. 

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Foot traffic data methodology

Unacast collects aggregated GPS data from smartphones and apps with users' opt-in authorization. To provide precise location intelligence, the data is analyzed and contextualized. This information can be used for various purposes, including advertising, audience segmentation, competitive landscaping, urban planning, demand forecasting, site selection, and a gaining general understanding of people-based movement analytics, including migration patterns and shifts in region-based demographics.

Unacast uses a three-step methodology to gather, extrapolate, and correct foot traffic. 

1. Gathering the data

We use GPS location data because it is the most reliable. It works by sending signals, or “pings,” from a mobile device to a constellation of satellites. GPS uses triangulation to determine where on the planet your device is, and describes that position using latitude and longitude. Each ping from a device also has a timestamp. Unacast gathers aggregated GPS data from more than 130 million smartphones and mobile apps, with opt-in consent from users. Unacast focuses on sourcing data from only the most transparent and high quality suppliers, with a commitment to user privacy and compliance.

2. Contextualizing the data

Through our algorithms, raw pings are clustered into events that indicate activity, such as dwelling at a location, or traveling to retail venues. An array of latitudes and longitudes are of no use; that ́s why Unacast's data engine translates the raw data feed into something understandable by adding context. We also assign events to census block group (CBG). While this is not the finest-grain map out there, we want to make sure that private information, such as people’s homes, are obfuscated and not discernible to an address. We can add CBGs together to measure neighborhoods, cities, counties, states, and even the entire country. We extrapolate the data to represent the population in question, both U.S. and in 80+ countries.

3. Creating curated datasets

It's important to have the data answer the specific questions your team is looking for. You might want to know how many visitors went to a competitor's location, and for how long. Or you might want to see the home and work areas of your visitors. Perhaps you want to know where else your customers visit, in addition to your locations. Or you might want to know if your target customers are moving to or from a specific neighborhood or city. Our datasets for Foot Traffic, Trade Areas, Cross Visitation, and Migration Patterns can help you with these questions and more.

Want an in-depth look at foot traffic data points? Explore the Unacast Data Dictionary.

Algorithm and accuracy

Foot traffic data is compared to "ground truth," which is an accurate measurement of visitor traffic frequency. Ground truth is not an estimate. Unacast foot traffic data has shown to have a .93 correlation with ground truth.

Unacast algorithms can accurately depict what is happening on the ground rather than inferring what could be happening. While an individual store or location could give a partial view of store traffic using sensors or WiFi networks, Unacast data collected from mobile devices provides the necessary accuracy to validate your analysis.  

You can read about how Unacast guarantees data accuracy here. 

Foot traffic data use cases

There are many use cases for foot traffic, from obvious to more subtle and interesting.

Competitive Intelligence

Foot traffic can be used to benchmark your business against your competitors’ performance. You can see how you stack up against other brands’ visitation trends across locations, allowing you to measure your market share and regional dominance. You can also better understand in which locations your competitors are most active, which can inform your next location, product offerings, or partnerships. Also important is the ability to uncover the profiles and patterns of your competitors’ customers, which Unacast allows you to do with foot traffic trends and aggregated demographics.

Learn more about Unacast's Competitive Intelligence solution.

Site Selection

Site selection is a critical business function for businesses with brick and mortar locations. How do you decide where to put your next store or location, and why? With Unacast foot traffic data, retailers and real estate investors can understand foot traffic to specific (customizable) areas, and see how those trends change over time. On top of understanding foot traffic in a specific neighborhood, area, or store, you can also see macro-level migration trends within neighborhoods, cities, and states to ensure your next investment is sound.

Learn more about Unacast's Site Selection solution.

Site Analysis

Once you have your next store or location, foot traffic is an important indicator for both success and opportunities for improvement. For instance, with foot traffic data you can understand the capture rate of your store and what percentage of visitors are actually converting into paying customers. You can test your store’s product placements, number of store employees, and marketing campaigns to see how these impact foot traffic trends and visitation length. You can learn what types of visitors come into your store, as well as their cross-shopping trends (i.e., where they went before or after your store). You can also learn where your visitors come from, their work or home locations, so you can understand your trade areas and opportunities for new locations. Finally, by identifying migration trends and foot traffic changes early on, you can predict future foot traffic and close specific locations as needed before any changes hit your bottom line.

Learn more about Unacast's Site Analysis solution.

Demand Forecasting & Supply Chain Management

Foot traffic data is an excellent demand forecasting tool. Foot traffic has a consistently high correlation with revenue, and when you understand these trends over time and catch any changes early, you’ll have a better understanding of expected business performance. You can use foot traffic and migration pattern data to predict revenue and demand at your specific locations, making it easier to optimize your supply chain and plan ahead. You can also use foot traffic to inform investment decisions like on-site logistics, new product offerings, and marketing campaigns.

Learn more about Unacast's Demand Forecasting solution.

How foot traffic is used across industries

There are use cases for foot traffic analysis across various sectors. 

Retail

Retail is hugely reliant on foot traffic to understand store capture rate, run location-based advertising campaigns, analyze foot traffic trends in their stores and those of their competitors, and inform investment decisions like site selection, supply chain, and staffing. Retailers around the world trust Unacast's foot traffic as a critical data set for optimizing performance.

Insurance

Insurance companies use foot traffic data combined with property data, areas of interest, and climatic data to strengthen their risk evaluations of residential and commercial buildings and businesses. Foot traffic data makes it easier to optimize insurance prices and the accompanying policies based on real-world data.

Finance

In addition to better serving retail finance with site selection, affluence statistics, and more, foot traffic data enables banks, hedge funds, lending services, and insurance companies to see patterns before they are reflected in quarterly profit reports. Financial services organizations also rely on foot traffic for future investment decisions.

Healthcare

Healthcare institutions  use foot traffic to better their operations. Businesses can pinpoint neglected regions, and see how healthcare providers are distributed around a city. This information is highly valuable to assign additional emergency services or plans for growth.

Marketing

Businesses may use foot traffic data to create cost-effective location-based marketing initiatives, raise brand awareness, promote deals and events, attract new clients, and boost foot traffic to physical stores. Leading businesses, ad agencies, and marketing teams use this data to assess ROI, develop lucrative growth strategies, and retain their best customers.

Transportation

The logistics and transportation sectors depend heavily on foot traffic statistics. Organizations may better plan and control how they use logistics services like transportation, fleet management, etc., by observing mobility trends. Foot traffic can inform investment decisions in new transportation needs for optimizing cities' travel behavior.

Government

Government agencies utilize foot traffic intelligence to improve their services and boost performance. Administrations use foot traffic data to enhance public transportation, manage traffic, and create more innovative urban systems.

Real Estate

Real estate firms improve their investment decisions by researching a particular area's mobility trends and patterns via foot traffic. Architects, urban planners, and real estate investors can benefit from foot traffic data to make decisions on residential, retail, commercial, and industrial developments.

Find out why best-in-class organizations in your industry work with Unacast. 

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Summary

Businesses across industries utilize foot traffic data to determine visitation trends, where visitors are coming from, and how they are interacting with the competition. When combined with demographic data, these aggregated statistics provide the forecasting tools that help your company make the right investment decisions.

Unacast develops customized consumer foot traffic tracking plans in collaboration with today's business leaders. Thanks to our data-driven human mobility insights, you can evaluate the foot traffic to your venues, trade regions, and competitors.

You'll be able to make intelligent site selection or deselection decisions by studying your target consumers' movement trends. Working with our data specialists will help you discover your company's next competitive edge.

Unacast's commitment to the highest quality human mobility insights will provide the complete story for your business, from your next ideal location to your current locations' capture rates, visitor lengths, and customer origins. You'll optimize your marketing and investment decisions and get a true understanding of how you stack up against other brands.

Book a meeting with Unacast to see how we deliver the industry's more trusted and innovative location data. Work with our team of data scientists to get the perfect view of data for your business. If you're ready to level up your data game, speak to Unacast today

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