Loss prevention ROI: How RC Willey improves interdepartmental cooperation
With 13 stores and three distribution centers in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and California, RC Willey is a major name in home furnishings on the west coast selling furniture, appliances, electronics, flooring and mattresses. Founded in 1932 by Rufus Call Willey, a door-to-door salesman selling Hotpoint Brand appliances out of a pickup truck, the company has grown substantially from its modest beginnings. This success is driven in part by a thorough understanding of their customers from a variety of tools that gather and analyze data to help better serve their customers’ needs.
Measuring foot traffic in RC Willey locations is one such data metric, but there were challenges with traditional counting tools. That’s when Rod Mosher, director of loss prevention for RC Willey, took the opportunity to propose people counting video analytics. And it worked!
The technology has surprisingly wide applications, allowing RC Willey to gauge the effectiveness of different promotions, measure trends over time, and even create heat maps of different areas of the store. But how did a video surveillance system transform from a loss prevention tool to a business optimization asset for IT, marketing, communications and other areas of the business?
I sat down with Rod for a webinar presentation to answer that very question. It’s amazing how the addition of integrated surveillance technologies has improved interdepartmental cooperation within the organization.
A Q&A with RC Willey
HEDGIE: Rod, thank you for joining me. You’ve mentioned to me that integrating AXIS People Counter and AXIS Store Reporter with your existing POS system helped RC Willey improve its ability to accurately measure foot traffic in its stores. According to your team, being able to track the effectiveness of different promotions in different markets made a big difference—to the tune of a 30 percent increase in foot traffic and a 10 percent increase in sales for your first new promotion alone, if memory serves.
One thing I wanted to talk a little more about was how having access to this data has helped with interoperability on the RC Willey team. I would imagine that this data makes a significant difference to the marketing team, for example.
ROD: Absolutely. But it wasn’t always easy. In fact, when I first approached our marketing people, they were pretty skeptical about gathering data from video surveillance. It really took me saying listen, this is something that I think can have value. It required a pretty significant investment of my reputation initially to say that it was worth the effort.
In the past year, though, the marketing folks have become my best friends. They are so thrilled with the results and the information that they’re able to gain from this system. They feel like it’s been imperative. It’s really created an environment where they are now coming to me and saying, “Hey, what else can you do? What other data is available? What other things can we do that would enhance this process?” At this point we’re looking at other possibilities.
HEDGIE: Has there been investment from the IT team, as well?
ROD: Yes. We’ve always had an excellent relationship with our IT folks, and they’ve always been very supportive. We really are an in-house provider to ourselves. And we found that as we picked up the people counting ball and ran with it, our knowledge base improved. We understand our system—how it works and what it can do for us. And that relationship with my IT folks has been really beneficial.
HEDGIE: When you first started pitching the idea to these other teams, how did you go about it?
ROD: It’s all in the presentation. Like I said, I had to put my reputation on the line and say, “Hey, I think this is something that can be beneficial.” It was scary, and it was challenging, but I’m so grateful that we did that. The marketing folks have become some of my tightest allies and my greatest resources, and we have a tremendous working relationship because of the success of this project.
HEDGIE: What has the return on investment looked like? Has it been helpful to have clear ROI numbers to point to when gathering buy-in from other departments?
ROD: I was really shocked at how affordable this process was. This is one of the least expensive processes that we’ve deployed, and I think our ROI was rapid—our marketing team would tell you that it was almost immediate. In fact, we were paying more for the beam sensors we previously used for people counting than we did to implement the system that we now have.
HEDGIE: You mentioned earlier that you’re currently looking at other ways to leverage this technology. Can you talk about some of those and how enthusiasm from other departments has helped?
ROD: We’re looking at a process now to segment areas inside our stores and track how many people walk into these different areas to really see what happens with the traffic flow. We’re also looking at queuing, and dwell, and heat mapping, and all these other analytics that can be enabled on IP surveillance cameras. It’s been fun for me, because I’m no longer driving the ship. It’s a lot of different departments coming to me and saying, “What else can you do for me?” That’s been the fun part.
While every organization is different, I hope our discussion provides some insights on how loss prevention can gain a seat at the table with intelligent solutions to support the business. To help improve your cross-collaboration efforts and generate internal buy-in for modern surveillance solutions, download our e-book, 8 Ways to Connect with the retail C-Suite.