Maximizing Profit with People Counting and Visitor Analytics in Duty-Free Stores

April 12, 2023

It’s more important than ever for duty-free stores to understand and optimize the customer experience, especially to compete with online stores and their advantages. People counting and visitor analytics for the real world are standout ways to succeed in this retail space. The power of traffic data allows duty-free retailers to gain valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and trends. 

Duty-free shop managers can use the information they gain through visitor analytics to make data-driven decisions and improve store layout, product placement, staffing levels, and launch more effective marketing strategies. In this article, we’ll dig deep and explain how traffic counters and visitor analytics can help duty-free shop managers stay ahead of the game. We will also share a success story with one of our long-standing partners, ATU Duty-Free.

Understanding Customer Behavior

Duty-free store decision-makers can use people counting technologies and online visitor analytics tools to understand customer behavior and analyze key metrics. You can accurately measure your store’s traffic even if the store has an open layout with no doors and even if your traffic is extremely high during peak hours. 

A modern and reliable people counting sensor with zone analytics —bundled with a cutting-edge online visitor analytics platform— can show you which products or services your visitors interact with most. Modern zone analytics systems use a grid plan that allows you to pinpoint which products are attracting more interest and which zones are more attractive to your customers. You can use your duty-free store’s people counting data to understand your customers’ needs and wants and optimize your shop to suit your visitors’ demands.

While understanding customer behavior is critical for any type of business, considering building a loyal customer base is significantly harder since visitor circulation is incredibly high, it can be especially useful for a duty-free shop. Besides frequent flyers, you’ll rarely have returning customers; even then, they’ll make a minor part of your customer base. People counting can help you understand customer trends with factual data, and you can find out what works and what does not, despite the high shopper circulation. 

Needless to say, when you can pinpoint who your customers are via an accurate demographic analysis solution, you can easily and swiftly determine what your customers want and which products your customers are most interested in purchasing. You can then turn this information into more sales and maximize your revenue.

In addition to everything listed above, you can differentiate your store experience and gain an advantage over other duty-free shops by understanding customer behavior better than your competition via accurate people counting data. 

Improving Customer Experience

A thorough understanding of your customers’ needs and wants will lead to a greatly improved shopping experience. A duty-free shop that collects visitor data and also leverages real-time people counting can tailor its services and products to create a more personalized shopping adventure. Improved customer experience will boost satisfaction and will improve your chances of being recommended to other potential shoppers.

People counting data can also help duty-free shop owners understand how customers move around the store and allow you to optimize the store layout with factual visitor data. As the decision-maker, you can use this data to manage the potential customer flow, even if your duty-free shop is rather small, and increase the chance of a sale. Optimizing your shop’s layout with precise traffic data can also aid you in encouraging customers to visit more areas of the store and boost the number of impulse purchases. 

Optimizing Staffing and Inventory

How much workforce you may need at any given time depends on several factors. People counting data —provided it’s accurate and timely— can help you truly understand when are your peak hours and allow you to plan accordingly. This information can be crucial as it can both boost your sales and get ahead of potential lost sales by ensuring you always have the right number of employees to meet the customer demand. 

An optimized workforce means your customers will leave your duty-free store more satisfied and will likely recommend your shop to their friends and family. You will also have a happier team, as when staffing levels are optimized properly, you can greatly improve productivity while having your team work less. If your team members aren’t overworked or understaffed and know in advance when they’ll be needed most, they’ll be more satisfied with their job, have a higher chance of creating work-life balance, and decreased burnout.

Maximizing your team’s productivity will also help you cut unnecessary costs and energy bills. Many employers and team leaders are either unaware or do not realize that having just one extra person covering a shift when they’re not needed can be incredibly costly. Their salary alone could cost you, sure, but there are also many hidden costs of having a person show up for a shift when they are not truly needed. That one worker can drastically increase your monthly bills, and the number could become even more difficult to manage annually.

Optimizing your inventory through factual visitor data will benefit you in several ways as well. First, you can reduce your duty-free shop’s storage costs by making informed decisions about which products to stock and how much inventory to hold.

Through visitor analytics, people counting technology can help you accurately identify which products are more frequently purchased and when; you can use this information to stock popular products and items in greater numbers and ensure your store has them available for shoppers. 

Alternatively, you can use your shop’s visitor data to discover when slower periods during the day, week, or month happen. Knowing customer traffic patterns will let you adjust your inventory levels accordingly and reduce your inventory costs and other related costs. 

If your provider offers a storefront analytics solution, you can also discover if your store can potentially draw in more customers or if a deal can be promoted to increase sales. 

Measuring Marketing Effectiveness

If you are running a duty-free shop, you know all too well that you’re competing with several other stores offering similar product lines within the same airport. The competition is fierce, and you need effective marketing strategies to get ahead of other shops. Without reliable and precise visitor traffic information, the best you can do is trust your intuition and guess what will work. However, people counting and visitor analytics can provide you with all the necessary information to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, digital signage promotions, and other efforts. 

As a decision-maker, you can use the power of accurate people counting and understand what strategies work and why they work. Guessing can be a dangerous game, and while it may work here and there, you won’t even know for sure why your strategy worked. Meanwhile, basing your marketing and promotional efforts on real-time or collected over-time visitor data can help you improve ROI and boost your other key metrics.

At its core, people counting technology can help you determine the number of potential shoppers coming and leaving your store and also give you insights into how long they stay and what zones they spend the most time at. Measuring the footfall traffic during and post-campaign and comparing data can reveal your strategy’s effectiveness. 

Integrating your visitor analytics solution with your POS system and other solutions can also help you accurately track engagement and conversion rates. If you’re promoting a specific product or an item, you can place them at a specific zone at your store and see how much interaction they get, thanks to zone analytics and heatmaps. As for conversion rates, you can simply combine and compare data from your traffic counter and sales solutions and get a clear performance reading of your duty-free shop.

Identifying Areas for Improvement

In order to accomplish everything we listed above, you need to use a modern and reliable people counting service provider that utilizes cutting-edge zone analytics and heat mapping technology. If you bundle zone and customer flow data with age and gender information, you’ll have all the data you need to make better-informed decisions. 

Your initial goal is to identify which areas are underperforming and use the power of data to understand why they’re not doing as well as you think they should. Using zone analytics and heat mapping will precisely show which items and zones attract more customers and cause interaction. For instance, you can have complimentary products close to one another to improve sales or move them further apart but make them visible to each other to increase footfall traffic to ensure your customers see what more you have in stock. Alternatively, you can launch a loss leader strategy and sell your hottest products at a loss, but place related items all around it and along the way and burn through your inventory.

You can also directly survey your customers to betters grapes what they want to see improved, be they checkout lines, prices, the store layout, or others. You can gather this feedback on your online visitor analytics solution, see if the feedback matches the visitor data, and make changes if necessary.

Success Story: ATU Duty-Free

ATU Duty Free is one of V-Count’s longest-standing customers. The duty-free retailer was founded as a joint venture between TAV Airports and UNIFREE Duty Free/Gebr. Heinemann back in 1999, and the company has seen substantial success since then. It now operates in 128 shops across 21 airports in eight countries.

The Challenge: The company’s Ataturk International Airport store was one of the leading branches (this airport no longer allows commercial flights). 

This branch had no doors in order to have a modern design; instead, it had three major entrance points While this was convenient for customers, it complicated the people counting and visitor analytics process. 

ATU is an innovative company; hence they want to be better informed about its customers and hold a high level of customer service while improving operations. This led to the following challenge:  either build doors and change a critical part of the customer experience or develop a modern approach and count visitors with V-Count’s sensors without any trade-off.

The Solution: V-Count was mindful of the fact that ATU Duty Free stores wanted to maintain their visual identity for consistent customer experience across all establishments. We did our homework, did thorough research, and after meticulous calculations, we installed 27 sensors in total to cover all entry points. 

“We have been using V-Count at our duty-free based in Istanbul departures for five years now. We are accurately measuring the number of people visiting our open-layout stores that have no doors, even at the busiest hours. V-Count reports make our analysis process easier. The V-Count team is also very successful at conducting technical issues.”

ATU’s Business and Solution Development Director Muhammed Özhan

ATU Duty Free project proved fruitful for both companies; the duty-free giant started making decisions based on factual visitor traffic data and saw a significant increase in several key metrics. The company saw an increase of 18.2% in the first year alone after they started using our sensors and online solutions. Gaining valuable and actionable insights into the operations also increased the average basket size. 


If you want to stay ahead of the competition and maximize profits in your duty-free store, implementing a people counting and visitor analytics solution can give you valuable insights into customer behavior and help you make data-driven decisions. With accurate data on foot traffic, you can optimize staffing levels, identify areas for improvement, and increase overall efficiency. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to take your duty-free store to the next level. Book a meeting with us today to learn more about how people counting, and visitor analytics can help your business succeed!