Guest Column | June 12, 2013

IP Video In Retail: ROI Via Enhanced Productivity & Stronger Data

By Patrick O’Leary, Verint

Retail is a dynamic market, constantly changing and evolving due to the economic climate, buyer behavior, and the rise and fall of criminal activity. It's also a challenging market, where thin profit margins make cost control not just a useful strategy but a daily and constant requirement of doing business.

Analog video has performed well in the retail environment for many years, foiling shoplifters, identifying employee theft and generally helping to minimize the otherwise disastrous effect of shrink on the bottom line. Cost concerns and a history of on-the-job success might lead some retailers to retain these tried-and-true analog systems and delay investing in new IP networked video systems. In this instance, hesitation is a huge missed opportunity.

For one thing, IP digital systems perform better than legacy analog systems — the devices can be programmed for optimal resolution to maximize quality alongside efficient bandwidth and storage utilization. This allows retailers to extract important details from captured video, including merchandise details, vehicles and even currency. The better the video evidence, the more likely a retailer is to close an investigation quickly and to prevail in court.

Better yet, IP video systems offer a breadth of new capabilities beyond traditional loss prevention functions. Intelligent solutions can also help retailers manage business more efficiently, increase customer satisfaction and embrace new ways to improve operations — and the bottom line. Here are some additional benefits offered by today’s IP video systems:

Real-time monitoring of video from any location

Retailers no longer have to sit at a desk to view real-time video of what's happening in the store. IP systems can stream video in real-time on a smart phone or tablet to managers or LP personnel anywhere in the store.

Remote monitoring from a single site

A manager can view multiple retail locations from a centralized location. In fact, video from any camera anywhere on the corporate IT network is as close as the nearest workstation (or handheld device). Therefore, operational cost savings are significant. For example, travel to and from stores in a specific region is reduced.

Access to business intelligence

Intelligent video systems can help analyze video data to provide a new range of metrics to guide business decisions. Systems can count traffic into and out of the store, analyze customer dwell times and determine the number of people in line at the checkout.

Analysis of marketing programs

What works and what doesn't? In the retail environment, the answer comes in terms of how the customer responds, which shows up clearly and undeniably in the high-resolution images of IP video systems. Analytics help track customer traffic patterns and provide data of high-traffic areas of the store to optimize marketing programs.

Increased productivity

The combination of intelligent video and workforce optimization presents new cost-saving possibilities related to staffing. Analyzing video using intelligent software guides staff scheduling by highlighting busy and slow times, and measuring customer wait times.

Increase customer service

By combining the power of analytics with video surveillance technology, retailers can gather, monitor and act on customer traffic and behavior patterns. Store managers can quickly search for pertinent data such as: when customers most frequent a store, how long they dwelled in specific areas and typical wait time in lines.

Business forecasting

Quantifiable information can help retailers project future business trends and ensure they are prepared. More data leads the way to a more profitable business.

Collaboration among multiple departments

Improvements in operations, marketing and merchandising as benefits of IP video encourage collaboration and cooperation among multiple departments for the overall good of the business.

Advancements in IP surveillance solutions allow retailers to leverage the network infrastructure to gather more security and business intelligence from their surveillance systems. At the same time, the ability to understand the retail market’s specific requirements allow integrators to specify solutions that address evolving challenges.

Overall, LP departments can expand their capabilities with the power of network solutions, which offer greater possibilities than traditional closed systems, while integrators can build long-term relationships by provisioning solutions that offer more options to integrate with other networked systems and functions. Beyond LP, when networked systems work in concert, they enhance situation awareness and provide retailers with a holistic view of their business.