Overcoming Key Challenges
Intelligent video plays a key role in the retail market
- By Jennifer Hackenburg
- Jun 01, 2018
The retail industry has become increasingly competitive
as brick-and-mortar companies attempt to hold their
own against online retailers offering low prices and
free shipping. In this environment, retailers are seeking
every possible advantage they can get in order to
grow revenues while also addressing traditional security challenges
like inventory loss.
Theft of Inventory
Each year inventory loss, whether from shoplifting or employee theft,
costs U.S. retailers billions of dollars each year—to the tune of $48.9
billion in 2016, according to Money Magazine. As a result, retailers’
efforts to reduce loss, protect existing inventory and provide a safe environment
for customers and employees occupy significant resources.
But at the same time, they must also find the means to address the
vitally important—and extremely difficult—task of growing their
customer base and maintaining customer loyalty with an eye toward
growing their business.
Luckily, in addition to the more traditional security-focused roles
of safety and loss reduction, an intelligent video surveillance solution
can also improve customer satisfaction and optimize overall business
results, which combine to keep operating expenses low while increasing
efficiency and growing profits. Designing an effective retail video
system begins with identifying pain points and then building a solution
around those specific needs. This involves deploying the appropriate
technology to monitor five key areas: people counting, traffic
pattern analysis, customer satisfaction, reducing theft and monitoring
Unlike e-commerce companies, traditional retail establishments
struggle to determine exactly how many people come into and out
of their stores. The ability to accurately count the flow of visitors
allows a retailer to ensure their business operations are as efficient
as possible while also making it easier to calculate and make decisions
that could improve in-store conversion rates and per-customer
People counting analytics, which are a feature of advanced cameras,
provide the accurate information about foot traffic at store
entrances retailers need to improve efficiencies, staffing levels and
other factors directly related to customer service and satisfaction. By
exporting reports daily, weekly, monthly or as needed, retailers can
analyze traffic to greatly improve business efficiency.
To ensure the best results, cameras deployed at store entrances
should include wide dynamic range (WDR) to deliver crystal clear
images to monitor store entrances at all times, even in challenging
lighting conditions, including high-contrast or backlit scenes.
Analyzing Traffic Patterns
For the main area of a retail establishment, cameras with corridor
mode functionality can be used to monitor store aisles, minimizing
the need for multiple cameras to monitor a single area. This capability
also offers savings on bandwidth and storage needs because the
image can be flipped 90 degrees, which results in only capturing usable
data and eliminating the walls from images. Adding a fisheye
camera will provide full coverage of shelf areas. Further, advanced
heat mapping analytics can generate a visual demonstration of visitor
flow through certain areas of the store. Cameras with heat mapping
capability display hot and cold areas based on customer flow, which
enables advanced business analysis.
In addition to counting people who enter and exit the store, retailers
can also deploy regional people counting analytics to better understand
how customers move through the store. This insight gleaned
from monitoring traffic in particular regions is key for retailers to
optimize product placement and prolong a customer’s visit.
How people move around a retail establishment says a lot about a
store, particularly its layout. For example, knowing how displays are
performing is extremely helpful for retailers, and video allows managers
to monitor how a display changes traffic patterns and how much
attention shoppers give to a particular display. These patterns can
be analyzed by specific time of day, general time range, day of the
week and other parameters to provide valuable information that goes
much deeper than sales figures.
By analyzing and recognizing shoppers’ movements, retailers can
alter and improve a store’s layout to reduce crowding in a particular
area, and managers can also grow profits by placing high-value or
high-profit items in an area where there is more foot traffic to make
them more visible.
Improving Customer Satisfaction
If customers find themselves waiting in long lines at checkout counters,
there is an increased likelihood that they will abandon their purchases
and leave a store. Using the same heat mapping and people
counting analytics that provide insight into how many customers enter
a store and how they move through the sales floor, retailers can be
alerted to the need to open additional registers to reduce wait times,
thus ensuring customers are happy and will be more likely to complete
On a larger scale, these insights can be used to determine the appropriate
staffing levels for different hours of the day or days of the
week, which can often prove to be a challenging task for retail managers.
Video can alleviate this challenge by providing the data necessary
to know when more employees are needed in particular areas of
a store. The ability to make sure additional sales associates available
at busier locations and times of day is another strategy for retailers to
grow sales and increase the value of individual transactions.
Deploying dedicated cameras with high-resolution images at
checkout counters allows a business to capture images that can capture
transactions in great detail, which can resolve disputes or discrepancies.
These cameras can also aid in investigations, such as determining
who purchased an item listed on a receipt. Not only can retailers
eliminate the potential for fraud and theft, but it ensures that transactions
go smoothly, which directly impacts customer satisfaction.
While shoplifting certainly contributes to a retailer’s loss, internal theft
is another main factor to be considered. One aspect of reducing employee
theft is to monitor inventory levels, primarily in the store room.
Monitoring these particularly vulnerable areas requires a fixed camera
with ultra-low-light capabilities or a camera that includes infrared (IR)
illumination, which will provide detailed around-the-clock surveillance
in all lighting conditions. The addition of motion detection or
advanced technologies like tripwire or removed object analytics only
serve to enhance the effectiveness of these solutions in controlling inventory
and reducing the potential for both theft and burglary.
Monitoring the Exterior
Much of retailers’ customer satisfaction and retention efforts are focused
inside the store, and with good reason. After all, that’s where
the sales happen. However, maintaining a secure environment outside
the store is also vital to growing customer satisfaction. In these applications,
a 180-degree multi-sensor camera, either bullet or dome
style, is most effective.
Ideally, a camera should be mounted on a corner so a single camera
can be used to monitor multiple angles, reducing the number of
cameras and increasing the efficiency of security monitoring by allowing
the feed to be viewed on fewer streams. For large area monitoring,
PTZ cameras can be programmed to automatically track and
generate alerts for abnormal activity or behaviors immediately.
In the case of accidents or burglaries, high-definition video can
provide detailed evidence to confirm facts. The overall result is a
more streamlined video security system that creates a safe environment
both inside and outside of a retail establishment.
A retail-specific video management system brings together all of
these areas to provide data analysis to support operations and management
with an intuitive understanding of both current and historical
store status, as well as future trends. Real-time remote access capability
empowers retailers with up-to-the-minute information and
video, enabling fast decision-making and effective store management
from anywhere, at any time.
Intelligent video solutions offer retailers the ability to take advantage
of the technologies deployed to overcome ever-present and
all-important security concerns to address business challenges as
well. When the right intelligent solutions are properly deployed,
retailers gain valuable insight into the factors that will help them
increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, streamline operations,
lower operating expenses and more. All these factors combine to deliver
the insight necessary to seize the advantages they need to keep
pace with online retailers and grow their bottom
line in the highly competitive retail industry—
while also maintaining a safe environment and
controlling losses from both shoplifting and employee
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Security Today.