As retailers adjust to a new normal amidst COVID-19, many are changing their business practices to abide by new and unprecedented restrictions on social gatherings. Some retail managers are watching establishments from afar, while others are shifting their focus to new health and safety procedures to keep employees and customers safe.
Now, more than ever, a video surveillance system with remote auditing capabilities can be of use. Not only can you check your video surveillance from home, your laptop, or mobile device, but you can actually drill down to investigate certain areas of your business.
Intelligent video systems—those that integrate analytics and point-of-sale (POS) transaction data—can go one step beyond a simple audit by uncovering a wealth of information about your business—information you can use to make informed decisions right now. Here are just five of the business problems retailers can solve with an intelligent video audit.
1. Improving health and safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19
One of the biggest changes retailers are facing from the virus is the introduction of new health and safety measures. Frequent sanitization of high-touch surfaces is mandatory. Wiping down POS stations and counter surfaces is a must. Remote video monitoring can allow you to check in on your employees to ensure compliance with these, as well as hand washing and other rules. You’ll also be able to monitor that sanitization is occurring with the right chemicals at the desired frequency, that your employees are wearing masks and having their temperatures checked before starting their shift, and that physical distancing is occurring.
2. Compliance to ensure maximum limits on shoppers are enforced
While each part of the world has different restrictions in place, almost all are practicing some type of physical distancing and retailers must adapt. Staying six feet apart from family and friends is hard enough, but it’s particularly challenging inside some retail stores with narrow aisles and other restricted spaces.
You’ve probably noticed stickers on the floor in some stores to indicate where you should stand at a checkout, and waiting in line to enter a grocery store or a large retailer is now commonplace. Businesses are being restricted to a limited number of customers at once, so an intelligent video surveillance system with integrated people counting technology allows retailers to remotely view that customer counts are being adhered to.
As COVID-19 measures slowly lift, some regulations might remain in place. For example, restaurants might only be allowed to have 10 people inside at a time. Being able to view the restaurant and people counting data remotely helps owners ensure they’re complying with state or local rules.
3. Inventory management to make sure in-demand items are available
Shopping has changed for consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infrequent shopping trips mean that stockpiling certain goods has become the new norm, often leaving shelves bare. With a video surveillance system with integrated POS transaction data, retailers are able to see which store promotions are working well and which products are selling more than others. Integrating other types of data with video can add even further context.
Dwell time analytics, for example, can measure how long a person stands in a particular spot, allowing retailers to see which parts of their store are busier than others and how this may impact inventory. A video system with radio-frequency identification (RFID) data integrated can also help tremendously. Any product tagged with an RFID tag can be captured on video and then later searched for by product type, Electronic Product Code or serial number. Retailers can match that data with corresponding video to see how the product entered or left the store.
4. Reducing shrink
Loss prevention practices will always be top of mind for retailers, perhaps even more so today given the financial pressures many are facing from closures or reduced offerings. A video system with remote auditing capabilities allows retailers to see video images from all of their retail locations at-a-glance, and zero in on any suspicious activity. For example, perhaps you have a camera watching a high-value display case. A video audit can quickly help you see when something changes in the field of view and an item has been removed.
Intelligent video can also help reduce shrink by alerting you to suspicious transactions. Systems can be configured to send out alerts if too many voids or discounts take place. Returns, too, could signal an issue especially as many retailers have stopped offering physical in-store returns or exchanges in order to reduce contact with employees and the amount of people coming inside the stores. If a return transaction occurs, an alert will trigger, details can be investigated instantly, and the corresponding video can be viewed.
5. Improving overall security procedures
The ability to perform a remote video audit is important to improve overall security procedures in a retail business. Employees are now learning and performing new business practices. They may be focused on sanitizing the store more frequently and with chemicals that require doors to be open to properly ventilate the premises. However, that doesn’t mean that traditional security measures can be forgotten.
While focusing on sanitizing the store and airing out the chemicals for safety, an employee may forget to close and lock the backdoor when they’re finished. With cameras that have artificial intelligence (AI) analytics, retailers can be alerted when a back door is left open or someone enters a specific area of the store. And with email-based alerts or rule-based alerts, retailers will be proactively notified without having to login to the system. The combination of video surveillance, transaction data, and analytics provides a 360-view into what’s happening in the store, and the ability to view it anywhere is an added bonus.
While COVID-19 has drastically changed the way retailers have to operate, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. The retail industry can use these new business practices as opportunities for growth. Curbside pick-up might be something that customers come to expect and embrace, and retailers who find the perfect curbside pick-up recipe could stand out from their competitors. Other retailers may need to limit the number of customers in their stores for the foreseeable future, and if they can continue to offer the best customer service in a well-maintained, sanitary store, it will go a long way. A remote video monitoring system can help retailers adjust and perfect these new business practices, and soon they might view them as welcome changes, instead of mandatory regulations.