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Harley-Davidson Rides a Big Problem with a Red Hot People Counting Solution

Posted by Richard Strange on Nov 18, 2008 5:07:00 PM

The iconic Harley-Davidson Motor Company is the only major US based motorcycle manufacturer that produces heavyweight motorcycles that offers a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories, apparel, and general merchandise. By taking the love of “Hogs” to the open road, Harley-Davidson has transformed itself into a lifestyle brand of loyal consumers reporting a net income of $933.8 million on sales of $6,143 million in 2007. Each of its more than 1,500 worldwide networks of dealerships is individually owned and operated under the support of the parent company of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

Harley-Davidson and its extensive network of dealerships rely on people counting technology as a business tool to measure customer footfall and monitor key business metrics to establish the overall health of sales and performance. For example, the
output from people counting is used to calculate conversion rates on number of buyers, seasonal traffic patterns, impact of events, differences between regions and dealer groups, in order to better understand how the dealership network is performing and how best to support them to positively impact sales.

The Challenge
Harley-Davidson contacted expert people counting system and solution provider Traf-Sys and Irisys, the makers of the thermal imaging cameras and technology. The dealers being independently owned presented challenges. This was largely due to the fact that dealership retail outlet specs, i.e. size of the building and required
configurations varied greatly, which resulted in each dealership deployment requiring a custom installation.

To complicate matters, dealerships used separate computer networks which made sharing and collecting data complicated and difficult to analyze. In addition to this data conundrum, it was difficult for Harley-Davidson to get a real-time view of overall dealership network performance.

The Method
Harley-Davidson realized it was difficult to make accurate decisions, therefore it required an alternative solution that would have the capabilities to provide a more accurate big picture view of how its dealership network was really performing. After an extensive evaluation process, Harley-Davidson chose the Traf-Sys-Irisys technology partnership.

As a partnership, Traf-Sys provided its years of expertise in people counting installation and leading Traf-Sys Reporting System, VisiCount™, while Irisys’ market leading thermal image people counting cameras were chosen as a more accurate solution to detect the heat and infrared radiation emitted by shoppers in-store. The units contain imaging optics, sensors, signal processing and interfacing electronics all within a discreet and compact molded housing.

When the installation was complete self-check system diagnostics were carried out to make certain everything was in working order. The information gathered by the Irisys thermal imaging cameras is then fed into the Traf-Sys’ wireless equipment—the combination of the two makes installation possible in any kind of facility. Traf-Sys then assesses the dealership parameters to place a data controller in the dealer facility and the information from their network is received over the Internet to the Traf-Sys encrypted site in real-time in aid of decision making and trend monitoring. At the conclusion of the installation, customer traffic is watched carefully by human eyes and compared to how and what the system is counting for accuracy to ensure an accurate picture of customer footfall.

The Benefits
Harley-Davidson is now able to employ people counting technology in most of its major dealerships, and this is due to the Traf-Sys and Irisys offering being highly customizable, but more importantly accurate. With the analysis received from Traf-Sys and Irisys people counting dealership outputs, Harley-Davidson is able to make much more informed decisions based on real-time data. Individual dealerships can implement better staff management by
better understanding customer traffic patterns, event attendance and seasonal impact and correlating that with staffing levels to ensure the best overall customer service possible. Management can place high performing staff members on the floor during times of heavy customer traffic while scheduling trainees during low traffic times.

Individual dealers are also learning and tracking conversion rates from in-store events to see if they produced additional sales. In addition to this, Harley-Davidson can better access the top performers and their best practices, so that they can share this information with other dealers to help improve the performance of the overall dealership network.

In addition to better understanding the overall performance of its business, Harley-Davidson is also able to avert privacy issues. Due to the Irisys thermal imaging technology, the Irisys cameras only detects body heat therefore shoppers have no sensation of having their lives intruded upon by “Big Brother.” Irisys cameras simply sense body heat or more specifically the changes in a background that occur or how the body heat is different from the background – keeping shoppers’ identities protected.

The Future
As Harley-Davidson expands into the future, Traf-Sys and Irisys are there to install a people counting system to fit the individual needs of each of its dealerships. A new array of data will be analyzed—the daily weather against customer traffic, a given
manager on the floor against traffic, etc.—if Harley-Davidson can imagine it, the data can be created and analyzed. Harley-Davidson will always ask itself what it needs to do to reduce its costs and
enhance its revenue, make things more efficient, streamline and make them more scalable. People counting technology is an extension of this kind of thinking and part of its solution.

Conclusion
The partnership between Harley-Davidson, Traf-Sys and Irisys has been hugely successful. Harley-Davidson has pioneered a system that makes people counting easier, more adaptable and accurate than ever before. The data received from the dealerships is allowing Harley-Davidson to make critical business decisions that
solidify the bottom line while keep its loyal consumers returning time and time again.

Topics: People Counting, Harley-Davidson

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