AI AND VIDEO ANALYTICS BLOG
Video Surveillance & Physical Security Industry Viewpoints
May 1st, 2019
Author: Enav Perez

What’s in a Number: Why Retailers Should Be Integrating Count-Based Alerting into their In-Store Optimization Strategies

Situational awareness is critical for the in-store retailer. At every moment, the merchant needs to be fully attuned to the activity on the store floor, in order to best ensure a positive customer experience, efficient and engaged employees and optimal security coverage. Many merchants already use video surveillance for monitoring activity and reviewing incidents post event, but introducing video analysis capabilities offers retailers a new, deeper dimension of activity mapping and real-time response.

Whether reacting to an attempt to commit a crime, an emergency, growing crowds or snaking queues, time is of the essence: By configuring alerting logic to trigger notifications for predefined activities, retailers can protect their assets and optimize the shopper experience by identifying when and how they can better serve customers in real-time. This blog post will explain how retailers can leverage count-based alerts powered by video analysis and how this can affect their overall business performance.

Count-Based Alerts: what they are and how they work

Video analysis solutions empower users to set up alerting logic, so that they can be notified when specified behaviors are detected on camera. Count-based alerts enable retailers to define rules and trigger alerts for a predefined period of time when a specified number of objects or a concurrent number of objects are detected. Retailers can thereby instantly receive alert notifications in real-time, determine whether immediate response is required and react accordingly.

With face matching and detection capabilities, these alerts can be made even more specific: If a person of interest, or a face match for a watchlist entry, is detected within a space a certain number of times during a specified time frame, the operator can review the footage and confirm the identity of the monitored person and decide whether he or she needs to be confronted or apprehended. By the same token face recognition can be leveraged for loyalty programs and deepening engagement with VIP customers. The ability to recognize and alert staff to the arrival of a celebrity – or even a loyal customer – can help retailers deliver a personalized and interactive experience.

With comprehensive video analytic capabilities, the retailer can consistently review each day’s alert events, to better react to store activity in real time, understand trends over time and better plan for contingencies.

3 ways count-based alerts can be leveraged as retail business intelligence

1. Efficiently Monitor Employee Engagement

To retailers, customer engagement is of the utmost importance – ensuring a positive experience fosters loyalty, return visits to a store and conversions for the business. In large retail environments, store associates are critical to customer engagement and, by using video analytics to uncover trends and patterns throughout the shop, retailers can ensure that employees are distributed and interacting where they are needed most.

Video analysis and alerting can be used to help retailers track employee movements throughout the store, detecting employees based on their uniforms or face recognition, matching associates against the employee database. An alert can be triggered whenever employees are detected within a predefined proximity for a specified period. When alerts are triggered, an operator can assess and redirect employees so that they are stationed to maximize engagement with customers. This mechanism can also be used to direct associates to areas where visitors are congregating, to interact with visitors or respond to potential emergencies or threats.

2. Proactively Prevent Overcrowding

Crowding in certain areas of the store could be an indicator of an inefficiency, emergency or threat which requires immediate response. Growing numbers of people around checkout counters or dressing rooms could indicate lengthening queues. When a threshold number of people within the area of the dressing room or checkout is crossed, an alert can be triggered for an operator to assess the problem and mobilize store associates. Shoppers can be directed to other dressing rooms in large department stores, to prevent congestion in one dressing room area. Similarly, more checkout counters can be opened proactively, when crowds form around the cashier. This can prevent customers from becoming frustrated or abandoning purchases.

Alternatively, if the operator assesses and determines that the crowding alert is indicative of an emergency or security threat, responders can be immediately mobilized, and video footage can be rapidly reviewed post event to provide intelligence and understand what occurred in retrospect.

3. Optimize Operational Management

Count-based alerts can also help retailers manage some of the daily operations of a store, such as inventory oversight and facilities cleaning. For one, tracking crowding throughout a store can guide retailers’ restocking strategies. With video analytics-driven alerting, retailers can monitor activity near displays and leverage alerts to direct proactive stock checking. In this same way, count-based alerts can help direct store associates to high traffic areas of the store, to make sure that displays remain orderly. In a clothing store, for instance, clearance clothing racks or piles can quickly fall to disarray. By receiving alerts for people counts in specific areas, retailers can efficiently maintain popular displays, so the shopping experience remains pleasant.

Similarly, count-based alerts can be leveraged for restroom maintenance and cleaning. Instead of sending cleaning staff at predefined intervals, the store can use count-based alerts to dynamically identify high-traffic bathrooms and prioritize cleaning activities based on necessity in real-time rather than on the prescheduled routine.

By maximizing retail surveillance with video analysis software, retailers and other enterprises can drive security, efficiency and performance by extracting business intelligence from existing integrations. From count-based alerts and beyond to dynamic heatmapping and demographic segmentation, video analysis is a key tool that empowers retailers to harness the full value of their investments in video.

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