Retailers around the globe are cautiously reopening their doors after facing perhaps the most challenging times in decades, while in some areas of the world the toughest times may still lie ahead.
The short-term disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is clear, but its impact on the future of retail operations is yet to be seen. This uncertainty is creating unseen challenges for retailers, who are looking to make smart investments in technology that will not become obsolete once health and safety guidelines and restrictions lift.
Many retailers have concentrated on implementing technologies primarily to mitigate risk from the ongoing pandemic. However, investing in a new breed of smart surveillance cameras today enables retailers to design a sustainable system with robust application offerings for multiple types of scenarios, both during the pandemic and as operations begin to normalise. These cameras can be equipped and re-equipped flexibly with various video analytics applications and be repurposed at any time to fit the most pressing needs of a business. Many retail stores have found themselves in uncharted territory over the past few months and would have welcomed if there had been a way for their security cameras to help address these new challenges. The key is to invest into new technology today to have the flexibility when it’s needed the next time.
With this in mind, Security & Safety Things (S&ST) outlines a few ways in which smart surveillance technology can support both short-term reopening measures and provide additional long-term benefits to retailers such as:
- Optimise inventory in stores and warehouses
- Increase sales conversions
- Enhance customer experience
- Streamline workflows
Video analytic applications can optimise operations by analyzing customer behaviour and providing actionable insights to retail management. By assessing the amount of time customers spend in a store, managers can better plan for high traffic periods – increasing the number of staffed individuals or high-demand inventory items. If a store features a coffee shop, retailers are able to gauge the additional amount of time customers might linger in a shop, allowing them to plan for busy periods or potential bottlenecks. This also enables retailers to deploy other measures to optimise the shopping experience for customers.
Smart cameras can also assess highly trafficked zones, allowing managers to take advantage of upselling opportunities. Zone counter applications can be used for analysing interactions with a particular shelf or area of a store. This enables managers to better manage on-hand inventory to meet customer demand. Smart cameras can also be connected to point of sale systems and, by combining video data with cashier data, enable retailers to analyze the correlation between store and even department occupancy and sales made – offering opportunities to optimize conversion rates.
Where additional safety and security measures are required, smart cameras with intelligent analytics can assist in notifying proper personnel about spills in aisles and other potential safety hazards, as well as immediately notify staff if a customer has fallen. Additionally, when equipped with object detection, the cameras can identify damaged goods in retail warehouses and manage inventory to prevent theft.
A security camera, which was previously only able to provide video data, can now also enable retailers to better understand their customers shopping habits and optimise business operations – offering far more than just a security or health safety tool. These cameras effectively become IoT sensors that can today be used for COVID-19 related topics and tomorrow be refitted to further improve building safety and visitor experience.