We can take the time to address the proverbial elephant in the room: the pandemic has sizably upended the world as we know it. For retailers, this fact remains true. But as we visualize on the horizon the slow crawl back to some normalcy, it’s time for retailers to acknowledge the need for something else on top of a loss prevention strategy—intelligence.
There is a myriad of options for retailers when it comes to loss prevention, including RFID tags, access control, sensor technology and, of course, video surveillance. But there are a number of ways that software tools can be layered on top of these existing tools in an effort to drive more optimization of retail settings, increase sales, and provide retailers with a better picture of how their store merchandising is performing. Retail-centric technology that takes incoming data from video and analyzes it to provide more intelligence is making its way to the market quickly now that there’s a need for brick-and-mortar stores to maximize in-person shopping experiences and convert visits to sales.
So, what can video analytics help with? Here are six options.
Customer Service. Optimizing customer service using intelligence derived from video data is key, and the demand for this technology is growing exponentially. In particular, retailers are motivated by the ability to use video analytics in order to make sure the customer gets served in an appropriate amount of time. To go even further, stores are now beginning to tailor video solutions by implementing the application of alerting tools using metadata from the camera stream. Managers can use these tools to improve customer service speed and response, resolve time management issues, and make better use of staff.
Staffing Levels and Occupancy Numbers. One of the best ways in which video and intelligence are coming together to help brick-and-mortar stores is by bringing together the daunting task of measuring occupancy, especially in today’s reduced capacity and socially-distanced world. However, the use of occupancy goes beyond keeping people out of the store; it does wonders for helping retailers determine appropriate levels of staffing numbers and coverage based on how many people are in the store. For example, intelligence derived from a specific area of a store, like the front end, that says there is a threshold of people that has been reached can send an alert to management to send another cashier or customer service representative to help with the influx. This can help ensure customers aren’t waiting in long lines and will leave the store after having a positive experience.
POS Integration. Video and POS integration is a hot topic for loss prevention managers as they look at various types of transactions and align certain behaviors — even identifying repeat offenders. The centralized management and execution of this search for specific transactions and the corresponding video is helping loss prevention managers — even from an entire chain of stores in a single location — learn more about potential insider threats or customer service blunders.
Product Journey. Forward-thinking retailers are beginning to look for ways to embrace inventory management using RFID tags and linking them to video. What this can show a store is the product journey. Much like a customer’s data trail during online shopping can reveal specific styles and interests to e-commerce retailers, this in-store look for signals that stock is moving around a store can also provide insights into customer behavior. For example, if someone takes a specific item to the fitting room and then doesn’t purchase it — and this happens over and over again with the same item — it’s a strong signal that perhaps the item has a defect, or its sales appeal should be re-evaluated. There’s a ton of potential for being able to look closely at the buyer’s journey with products in a brick-and-mortar store.
Click-and-Collect Operations. While not on the retail floor, what happens in the back-of-house areas can have a significant impact on a retail location’s overall processes and on its bottom line. Some retailers are leveraging intelligent technology to provide more oversight and operational feedback from the moment that stock comes into the store through a loading dock. There are a lot of potential ways for processes to be improved while stock is being delivered and prepared to go out on the retail floor, especially when stores are leveraging click-and-collect service and require a significant amount of coordination and oversight for these areas. Video is now being used to streamline processes and pinpoint ways to cut down on the amount of time needed for certain tasks, which highlights to store owners and decision-makers the kind of technology that can be used to make a difference in a store’s bottom line.
Dual-purpose Stores. A trend seen across retailers is collaborative efforts from multiple brands. Think about having a Sephora inside of JCPenney or an Amazon collection/drop-off inside of Next. While it’s convenient to have two brands that can work well together, the ultimate goal of each is to drive business toward the other. The trend around this phenomenon may continue as brick-and-mortar stores look to maximize in-person experiences for their customers.
Optimizing Operations by Adopting New Solutions
Taking retail intelligence further using emerging technology is one way to push retail forward toward the next iteration of brick-and-mortar locales. Finding ways to leverage existing video data and surveillance with software that helps drive more optimization will become essential as we look toward a post-COVID world.
About the Author
Nigel Ashman is president for ONVU Retail and has executive responsibility for the strategy and delivery of cutting-edge technology solutions to the global retail sector. He has over 30 years’ experience in retail having worked as a senior buyer for Next Plc, and then as a retail sourcing agent for a range of retailers including Boden, Boots, and Jigsaw. Ashman currently works with global retail brands to grow their business by using IP video technologies and implementing bespoke loss prevention solutions. His overarching mission as head of ONVU Retail is to partner with retailers to utilize innovative technology to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behavior within stores.