The nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity ReStore serves as a donation center that takes in used furniture, appliances, home accessories and building materials and then sells them at a fraction of the retail price, donating all the proceeds to local Habitat for Humanity organizations. The retailer wanted to know exactly how effective its locations were in attracting customer traffic.
In 2015, the company installed a beta version of the Dor traffic sensor and analytics platform in two stores before rolling the platform out to the rest of its 850 locations over the next year. The platform uses proprietary thermal sensing technology combined with machine learning algorithms to provide insights about customer foot traffic. The data gave the retailer insights into which stores needed to expand their hours and how to maximize the efficiency of volunteer staff.
Typically, Habitat for Humanity Restore is a Tuesday-thru-Saturday retailer, but the company realized through the data provided by the Dor solution that some stores needed to be open seven days a week. The team also discovered that stores saw the most traffic around lunch hours, with the peak occurring between 2 and 3 pm on most days. This enabled the retailer to shift volunteer schedules in the morning and afternoon, so that shift changes would occur right before store traffic really picked up.
“We definitely liked seeing those trends because we were reliant on word-of-mouth before then, and now we’re positive about when the most customers are coming in,” Bravo said. “Now we let our volunteer team know and make sure we get more people prepared for those times.”
Bravo noted that the sensors helped the team justify expanding store hours, which immediately led to revenue increases without draining the team’s resources.
“The two beta stores weren’t in high traffic locations where there was high visibility, so we wanted to see if those high visibility areas were to our benefit,” Bravo said. “Our team was interested in finding out if people would come in if the stores were in better locations, and discovering the marketing techniques that would work best.”
With the solution, the Habitat for Humanity team can get a better idea of where to expand with potential new locations. Bravo indicated that while the ideal location of many home furnishing product stores would be in a large warehouse with sufficient parking area space for donation drop-offs, Habitat for Humanity Restore would get more consistent foot traffic in a shopping center containing a number of other businesses to support the brand.
The ReStore team places the Dor sensors on the main entrance door and side rollup doors in bigger stores, and just above the main entrance in smaller stores.
“It was pretty obvious to put the sensors on the main doors, but then we realized we had to factor that we would be taking furniture in and out of the doors sometimes,” Bravo said. “We had to make sure the sensor was in a spot where it wouldn’t get knocked off. As Dor developed its product, it got more durable in the year that we were beta testing, and we haven’t had any issues since we’ve had the final product in their stores.”