Guest Column | September 30, 2013

Ways Your Retail Clients Can Use IP Video — Beyond Security

By Jackie Andersen, Axis Communications

Retail prides itself on extending the life of assets, but as retailers upgrade to IP video and layer in video content analytics, the cross functionality and benefits added cannot be dismissed.

The most mature analytics currently in use include:

  • People Counting: While it may seem simple, the information retailers can glean from people counting — such as conversion rates — is extremely valuable. Managers can quantifiably measure people-in vs. sales-out. For a large chain, that means the ability to spot trends and pinpoint underperforming stores.
  • POS Exception Reporting: Video surveillance integration with POS systems gives retailers more oversight of sales transactions, aiding loss prevention efforts. Comprehensive view and search functions help loss prevention professionals sort POS transactions that are supported with contextual video integration.
  • Heat Mapping: Multi-colored overlays provide retailers with the ability to identify hot and cold zones visually. These data points tell stores where their customers are going and what areas of the store are getting the most traffic and engagement, This, in turn, can be used to prove ROI for vendors. Additionally, a “cold” zone could indicate an area where traffic is so light that it would be a prime place for someone to go to conceal an item, providing a loss prevention application as well.

Retailers increasingly use IP video for:

  • Merchandising: Video can be used to measure promotional and store merchandising programs. Analytics can help retailers optimize fixtures, displays, store layouts, and promotions. Retailers can even be alerted to merchandising levels and know when items are out of stock.
  • Staffing Optimization: Store managers can scrutinize their staffing decisions and optimize them for maximum sales and cost efficiency. Video can be used to monitor customer engagement and employee compliance. Awareness of a lingering customer unsure about an item can be the difference between a sale and someone who leaves frustrated and empty-handed.
  • Queue Optimization: Imagine knowing you need to open an additional register in five minutes. Retailers can monitor shopping queues and employee schedules to minimize wait times and adjust staffing hours.
  • Consumer Studies: How do shoppers behave on the path to purchase? Are they stopping in front of the promotional end-cap before checking out? Video can help “track” customers throughout the store, and the retailer gains insight into the traffic patterns of its customers.

And then there are the uses that are outside the box:

  • Live streaming of promotional in-store events to garner attention and drive sales.
  • Loyalty integration that sends directed marketing messages for individual shoppers.
  • Customers can virtually “try-on” items — and see how that pair of sunglasses looks. Shoppers can even leverage social media and take a poll before they buy.
  • And more… After all, we don’t know what we haven’t thought of yet. By using the interoperable components that IP video affords, retailers are almost in a position of “If you can think of it, you can do it!”

While video has been used in retail for years for security, more and more retailers are realizing that it can be used for more throughout their stores. Leveraging the valuable video and data that’s already being recorded can help optimize the store layout, deliver increased loss prevention oversight, and fine-tune staffing to deliver an improved in-store shopping experience comparable to an online shopping visit.