Shopping centre

Source: Unsplash

Landlord software business MRI has acquired footfall data firm Springboard in a deal that could enable visitor numbers to be used in determining retail rent prices.

UK-based Springboard provides footfall counting and artificial intelligence-powered analytics using existing camera networks at retail destinations. The system continuously measures visitor activity, while capturing anonymised demographic information and identifying behaviour patterns such as dwell time.

The acquisition will be used to expand MRI’s software suite, which currently serves more than 500 retailers and landlords globally, according to the company.

Property experts predicted in 2020 that footfall data, as well as retailer turnover, would be more likely to inform rent prices after the pandemic. Property consultancy Colliers said at the time that landlords needed better footfall data to enable the shift.

Colliers also held talks with landlords over using footfall data to help them get a share of the online boom. The lease model would see the data used as a metric informing rent on the basis a store visit could lead to an online sale later. However, the model struggled to gain traction in the pandemic and had yet to be implemented by February this year, with retailers said to be reluctant to recognise such a link.

Springboard was founded in 2002 and is said to hold the industry’s largest and most comprehensive data on footfall.

“Understanding the success of retail stores and destinations in terms of the number of customers they attract, and how customers utilise the space, is critical for the optimisation of operations,” said Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle.

“For example, planning staffing in relation to customer numbers enables sales conversion to be maximised. This insight can then be carried forward into forecasting sales and determining rental affordability for both occupiers and landlords.”

MRI CEO Patrick Ghilani said: “Springboard is an exciting addition to the MRI family that will bolster our retail and smart data offerings and provide clients with deeper insights to guide their business decisions.

“In light of post-pandemic shifts in the retail landscape, the adoption of in-store technology has become increasingly critical, and physical locations are playing a more prominent role in a redefined shopper and guest experience.”