The retailers involved were quick to applaud the effort. Stephen Quinn, senior vice president of marketing of Wal-Mart, issued a statement saying the effort was a good first step. "This study has tremendous importance for retailers," Quinn said. "Informed by the sophisticated data that this new metric will provide, retailers, for the very first time, now can consider new store layouts and product adjacencies to create an in-store experience that is more relevant and thus even more satisfying."Hoyt said the number and position of the infrared sensors can help isolate particular segments or brands. "You have to frame an area," he said. "A sensor at one end of the aisle would be able to track the traffic for that entire aisle," but additional sensors could track just, for example, Band-Aids. The ability for this group to be able to announce so many major players is crucial as this effort will ultimately have little value if its not widelyor even universallyaccepted. "Our objective is to deliver a metric that will become an industry standard," Hoyt said. "For retailers, the big Aha has everything to do with finally being able to understand where [consumers] go and how they move throughout the stores. This will help us determine better adjacencies." As is to be expected when a group consists of so many internal-politics-driven companies, the language associated with various players was carefully chosen in a statement from the group, which is calling itself the In-Store Metrics Consortium and declares its goal as delivering "a common language to determine consumer reach in-store." Procter & Gamble is identified as the studys presenting sponsor. 3M, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Kelloggs and Miller Brewing are listed as co-sponsors, while "supporting retailers" are Albertsons, Kroger, Walgreens and Wal-Mart. One key marketing point of the group is that "this metric can forecast traffic and unduplicated impressions with a very high degree of accuracy" and that "accurate chainwide projections are possible by using this metric and data from a limited samples of stores." The groups analytical package is called PRISM, standing for "Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric." I guess Pioneering beat out Pretty and Powerful, not to mention Pristine and Perfect. Im sure one late-night discussion suggested Pretentious, but that would have been far too much of a gift. Evan Schuman is retail editor for Ziff Davis Internets Enterprise Edit group. He has tracked high-tech issues since 1987, has been opinionated long before that and doesnt plan to stop anytime soon. He can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.
A big part of the number-crunching for this trial involves matching the data collected in the aisles with POS checkout figures. Although Hoyt didnt get into the details of how the POS data is integrated with the aisle-counter data, it will deliver a ratio of "the number of eyeballs that went by a particular promotion" versus "the number of purchases of products from that aisle." As promotions are added, removed and changed, retailers and manufacturers would theoretically be able to see how those ratios change.