Beyond Loss Prevention

Retailers are taking a new look at the role video surveillance can play in their day to day operations. From the beginning of the video surveillance embrace, the camera has been seen as nothing more than a theft prevention tool or to catch the occasional accident. However, thanks to such resources such as the National Retail Federation (NRF) the realization that most theft within the retail space was from its own sales professionals and associates. The cameras started to migrate not just to common areas but to cash registers, employee break areas, back rooms, and other areas not accessible by customers.

It’s no surprise that as the investment associated to loss prevention has gone up and retailers are being more vigilant in their surveillance, the need to extract more information from the technology is increasing. The shift to IP technology is opening new doors to retailers and businesses alike.

Welcome to the birth of analytics.

Camera technology is no longer used exclusively to calm that intrinsic fear of loss but we have moved into an age where the possibilities for gain is taking cameras into a new world of possibilities. This world of possibilities is approaching faster than anyone would have thought. From product placement, to strategizing promotions and sales, video analytics.

Matia Grossi, research manager for physical security group and author of the survey, notes “The majority of retailers, when asked about unmet needs, points out that customized services, innovative technology and the integration of old and new security systems are all value-added services that retailers are starting to expect from their system integrators. More than 70 percent of those we interviewed declared an awareness of the utility of video surveillance for applications beyond pure security, such as customer counting and demographic and queue monitoring, with varying percentages for each application. Roughly 80 percent of those aware of this possibility suggested they are also looking actively into the potential deployment of video analytics,”

Features being used for the growth of business include tracking traffic patterns, crowd counting, facial recognition, or POS integration. Imagine walking into a store and your sales associate knows you by name, how you like your coffee, and which products are your favorite indulgence. The intrusion of privacy or the customized experience can be saved for a later debate. In the meantime, the quality and quantity of information gathered by the new systems is staggering and is making business not only safer but also more profitable.

Smarter cameras on the edge of the network can identify objects left behind (for security) or help track customer traffic patterns, crowd counting, etc., for non-security applications. Face recognition can certainly serve a security function, but it could also be used to identify a retail store’s best customers, for example, to alert employees to provide VIP treatment.

Such new-age tools go beyond security to help retailers understand shopper behaviors and trends by providing insight into in-store promotions and advertising campaigns, identifying traffic flow patterns and measuring dwell-time, and helping to ensure proper product placement on shelves and aisles. By using a video analytics tool, retailers can extract and search customer behaviors through stored video. In addition, the analysis can be used along with point-of-purchase (POS) data to further understand buying patterns.

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