Video Surveillance & Physical Security Industry Viewpoints
July 6th, 2023
Author: Lizzi Goldmeier

6 Ways Retail Stores Can Streamline Operations with Video Analytics

Driving Change with the Power of Data

Whether selling electronics, apparel, or groceries, all retail stores and shopping centers can gain a competitive advantage by having better security and operational practices. To achieve these goals, they must be able to respond quickly to developing, in-store situations, investigate incidents, and plan strategically for the future based on quantitative trend data. In the past, store managers and security teams had to rely on anecdotal information, human observation, and sales records to gauge effectiveness. But now, stores can leverage the power of video analytics to gather long-term, comprehensive business intelligence about activity and traffic to streamline operations in their stores.

Building on What You Have

Most retail stores already have video surveillance (CCTV) cameras for property monitoring and post-event investigation. To complement existing camera networks, video analytics systems harness the valuable data that is recorded by those video cameras. Powered by Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence technologies, video analytics processes video to identify and classify objects in the video footage (people, vehicles, and other items), indexes the objects to enable quick and easy video search, and quantifies the resulting data for actionable information analysis. Because video analytics software can aggregate video data over time, it has the unique ability to provide business intelligence that helps operations and security staff understand trends, make decisions, and develop strategies and contingency plans. Let’s look at the 6 ways retail stores can leverage video analytics to increase operational efficiency:

1. Maximize store layout and product placement
Store managers need more insight into customer behavior and how shoppers are navigating the store floor. Uncovering which store layouts are optimal for pedestrian traffic flow and which product promotions or displays are most popular can empower retailers to arrange stores based on consumer behavior and sales objectives. Furthermore, since data points can be tracked over time, video analytics can drive cross departmental value by empowering security staff to see patterns in traffic flows or obstructions, and managers can identify which ads or promotions are driving the best, in-store foot traffic. For example, clothing and apparel store managers can use video analytics to map customer paths, object interaction and dwell time at different displays, and count how many shoppers visit a product display to make informed merchandising decisions.

2. Reduce crowding hotspots
Crowds – especially long queues – are detrimental to the customer experience and can sometimes compromise safety. Operations and security managers need to be aware of when, where, and how often crowds and queues form, so they can make intelligent staffing decisions. Furthermore, by tracking hotspots and traffic peaks, stores can develop real-time crowding contingency plans. Video analytics systems can first be configured to trigger alerts based on proximity and people counting filters. When pre-defined count and proximity thresholds are crossed, operators can be notified that an unsafe number of people is occupying a certain area. Finally, operators can respond in real-time to investigate the quantity and density of the crowd formation and take the necessary steps to remedy the situation based on the established contingency plan.

3. Manage building occupancy
Video analytics functionalities can be also by applied to manage building occupancy. Video analytics-driven reports can be generated to review occupancy trends, real time alerts can be triggered to control people count in stores, and occupancy counter tools can help retailers report – in real-time and in aggregate – store occupancy trends.

Occupancy statistics can also be used to optimally schedule cleaning based on facility usage. For large retail businesses, outlets, or shopping centers with hundreds, if not, thousands of visitors each day, maintenance and cleaning are critical functions. While maintenance workers traditionally follow a metered cleaning schedule, video analytics can generate and analyze traffic data over time. This visibility into usage trends provides more accurate data for developing usage-based maintenance schedules. Video analytics also empowers managers to respond to real-time maintenance needs by configuring people-counting alerts to understand when a pre-defined threshold for people entering a restroom has been surpassed. Upon receiving an alert, maintenance staff can be deployed to clean the high-trafficked area.

4. Uncover customer demographic trends
Video content analysis also enables retail users to gather information about customer demographics, such as gender or whether visitors are children or adults. Merchandising, marketing, and advertising teams can use this data to ensure that their store offers items of interest for each demographic; to understand which demographics aren’t being engaged; and develop strategies to improve engagement with those audiences.

5. Accelerate investigations
Video analytics is a cost-effective way to leverage investments in video surveillance networks, because – in addition to driving positive customer experiences – it can be leveraged to improve security and prevent inventory loss. Video analysis empowers operators to review video footage across multiple cameras in a matter of minutes to investigate loss and crime in stores. Operators can search by filters to show people or objects that fit a certain description, allowing them to extract crucial details, gather evidence, and accelerate investigations.

6. Empower real-time security response
While post event investigation is critical for retailers, video analytics can also enable managers and security staff to respond to events as they unfold. By configuring real-time alerts that trigger when pre-defined behaviors are detected, appropriate staff or operators can determine if response or intervention is necessary after evaluating the alert. For example, if a crowd or long queue is forming or if an unidentified individual is detected entering the inventory area, security staff can be notified to assess the situation and respond as needed.

Operations and Beyond

The ability to access actionable and quantifiable intelligence from video surveillance assets helps retailers ensure a safe and comfortable experience that fosters customer loyalty and retention. Modern retailers are staying agile by leveraging intelligent technology, like video analytics, for smarter, more efficient operations. But the power of video analytics for retail doesn’t stop there. Using video analytics technology drives business intelligence, operational efficiency, and increased productivity for every department in a retail organization.

Learn more about the data driven mall and how video analytics is driving intelligent retail here.

This post was originally published in August 2020, and has been refreshed and updated for accuracy.