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Smart Options for the Retail Environment

Benchmark considers a number of products and systems which will be of interest to those looking to implement smart solutions in the retail sector. These smart options can add value and deliver business benefits for companies operating in both the SME retail space and the shopping centre sector.


DESIGNING SMART SOLUTIONS FOR THE RETAIL SECTOR


A.I. Tech: AI-Retail

AI-Retail is a video analytic solution developed by A.I. Tech for the delivery of business intelligence, which allows retailers to improve sales and marketing performance, enhancing the customer experience and providing accurate reports and statistics that enable a detailed analysis of business conditions to be implemented.

The system makes use of standard digital video cameras and advanced video analytic algorithms. The combination enables the retailer to easily access statistical data related to the flow and behaviour of customers in the retail space, and can often be used in conjunction with legacy security investments. As such, it adds value and increases return on investment.

The solution can offer a definitive benefit for business intelligence and retail space optimisation, providing information about customers and their preferences, as well as assisting in the management of employee shifts and product placements. It can increase customer satisfaction, with efficient queue management, reducing wait times which can lead to abandonment.

AI-Retail is available as an edge-based application which is installed directly onto cameras (Axis Communications and Hanwha Techwin devices are supported), as a server-side program or as an embedded solution integrated in the AI-Appliance box.

AI-Retail incorporates six different modules. AI-People is linked to a virtual line detection algorithm. This plugin counts the number of persons crossing this line in a given direction.

AI-Crowd can be deployed in crowded areas where people stop or move slowly, determining queueing situations. AI-Crowd estimates the number of people inside one or more areas of interest, allowing evaluation of customer response to a display, as well as aiding queue management.

AI-Overcrowd detects overcrowding situations, raising an alarm when the number of people inside an area is too high. This can be used to enhance queue management.

AI-Heat classifies different areas in the store depending on the time spent in them by customers, distinguishing between the most visited areas (hot spots) and the less crowded ones (dead areas).

AI-Occupancy evaluates the occupancy percentage of one or more areas of interest. AI-Overoccupancy detects situations in which the occupancy percentage is higher or lower than a given threshold.

The last module is AI-Dash, the interactive dashboard which can be viewed via a web connection or by using a mobile app. AI-Dash allows access to all the statistical data and generates graphs and reports, without a direct connection to the central system.

Dahua: ITC304-PVRB4A

The ITC304-PVRB4A is an overhead camera which can be used for parking space status sensing in controlled vehicle-based applications. This makes it ideal for shopping centres were difficulty finding spaces can result is a lower level of customer satisfaction, often resulting in an unwillingness to return to a site.

The three megapixel device supports dual-streaming to ensure high quality still image output and video output. It features integral ANPR for vehicle detection and also incorporates an indicator light output with several colour choices, allowing empty bays to be quickly identified by users. For example, the light could be green to indicate available spaces, helping to locate parking without shoppers having to drive up and down lanes.

The camera makes use of a 1/3 inch CMOS sensor. The day/night device boasts an alarm output and three inputs, giving flexibility with regard to integration with other devices.

When the unit detects that a space is available, it can be configured to illuminate. This helps users to locate parking spaces, thus enhancing the overall visitor experience to a site while also reducing stress.

Gorilla Technology: Smart Retail

Gorilla Smart Retail is a comprehensive, real-time, portable analytical tool for single or multiple stores. Designed for use by operational managers and retail marketeers, the software incorporates camera and IoT analytical data to deliver operational overviews of customer traffic, shopper revenue and conversion rates.

Smart Retail delivers actionable insights, enabling better advertising strategies, staff management and business outcomes.

The analytics tools deliver visual overviews of people counts including gender and age data. When combined with POS data, conversion rates and shopper preferences can be used to refine product-based promotional strategies.

Historical analytics can be compared based on time frames to improve shop layouts and marketing. Reports can be used to help plan for peaks and troughs in customer activity, thus aiding HR teams.

The package also provides management of smart signage based on defined activities.

Optex: ViiK Traffic Sensors

OPTEX offers its ViiK vehicle sensor range which includes two models: a vehicle sensor and a vehicle counting sensor. The latter is ideal for cap park applications such as shopping centres, where barriers need to be closed to areas of full occupancy, and accurate signage information is required to direct shoppers to areas with spaces.

The ViiK vehicle sensor series comprises the OVS-01GT vehicle sensor which has been designed for gate or barrier activation, offering a simple-to-install alternative to ground loops, and the OVS-01CC which is a moving vehicle counter. Both sensors in the ViiK range are based upon Frequency-Modulated-Continuous-Wave (FMCW) technology.

FMCW is a short-range measuring radar technology that is able to measure distance. The combination of distance and speed measurement can result in higher levels of accuracy in challenging conditions. The ViiK range is not reliant on the delivery of specific light levels or even of consistent illumination in the detection zone.

The ViiK range introduces a cost-effective option for smart vehicle control, as no groundworks are required. The devices also allow legacy barrier systems to be expanded or upgraded, providing value-added car park automation options for shopping centres and retail parks.

Benefits include revenue-generation via advanced parking management, site traffic management, logistics enhancement, etc.. The ViiK devices allow implementation of smart parking management systems with minimal disruption, significantly reducing turnaround times on installations.

intuVision: VA Retail

VA Retail offers a range of measurements for in-store use to deliver valuable metrics. The software can monitor queues, delivering notifications when thresholds are exceeded and providing data for report analysis. Heatmaps of traffic flow patterns can be used to enhance site management and merchandising, and advanced search filters make assessments of events a simpler task.

Supported rules include activity detection, capacity monitoring, camera tampering and quality loss, staff coverage, direction of flow, dwell time, enter/exit, region activity, intrusion, loitering, object removal, people counting, throughput and queue density.

Qognify: Cayuga BVI

Increasingly, business processes are tracked with data gathered from various sources. However, where sensors, logs or visual information does not exist, gaps in real-time data can lead to losses and reduced efficiencies in terms of resources.
Qognify’s Cayuga BVI (Business Video Intelligence) solutions can help to close these information gaps for retailers, delivering business efficiencies.

Cayuga BVI solutions use video image data enhanced by advanced video analytics. This information is then combined with process data from the business in question. By linking these two sources, which typically remain unconnected in many businesses, valuable new information is available, allowing a better quality of management to be implemented.

The shift to IP-based technology has facilitated the availability and the processing of video and business data, enabling new applications beyond the reduction of theft and fraud. BVI combines video and business data, thus providing a new level of information including the customised presentation and monitoring of KPIs via dashboards and reports.

For the retail sector, Qognify offers business solutions that can be customised. For other applications, bespoke modular solutions are created using the Multi Solution Platform.

VCA Technology: uCOUNTIT

VCA Technology’s uCOUNTIT is software offering retailers business intelligence solutions that assist in gaining a greater understanding of customer behaviour.

The company states that many similar solutions are too expensive to be deployed by the majority of retailers, and can be time consuming to set up. Additionally, the formats in which the analysed data is presented can be complicated.

uCOUNTIT is a cloud-based counting and tracking reporting solution. It features a stripped-down user interface, which VCA states was developed as a direct result of feedback from retail clients. The basic GUI presents the analysed metadata in the form of simple charts, heat maps and reports.

The data provides real-time information for each store, organised by hour or day of the week, presented in an understandable format. The software is designed to be used with minimal training by operations managers, as well as store and marketing personnel, to assist them with refining their tactics for increasing sales, maintaining customer satisfaction and identifying opportunities to introduce business efficiencies.

The software is accessed via a standard web browser. It does not require dedicated software and provides secure data transfer. Users can access the dashboard from any location on the network, allowing regional managers to monitor activity at individual stores and make comparisons with others while ton the move.

uCOUNTIT supports VCA’s range of video cameras with analytics technology.

Genetec Retail Sense

Genetec’s Retail Sense is an application that leverages existing security infrastructure to deliver insight into in-store customer behaviours and trends for retail marketing, operations and merchandising teams. By adding value to legacy surveillance systems, Retail Sense ensures that end user expectations are exceeded by leveraging captured video data for business and management tasks.

The continuing emergence of e-commerce trends, a requirement for higher consumer connectivity and increased customer expectations are changing retail dynamics and presenting new challenges for retail organisations.

Traditional high street retailers that are able to consistently deliver a superior customer experience are seeing an increase of footfall with higher in-store conversions. Gaining an intimate understanding of shoppers’ behaviours is an essential part of the retail evolution, and this can be achieved using surveillance technologies if systems are designed intelligently.

With Genetec Retail Sense, retailers can use existing infrastructure to transform the customer experience by maximising the time staff spend with shoppers. This reduces abandonment whilst also boosting display and promotion effectiveness to drive high levels of traffic at the point of sale. The results of the intelligence-gathering application can be used to tailor product placement and store layout decisions.

Through real-time insights, retailers can utilise the intelligence, allowing them to better understand consumers, make informed decisions and increase both consumer engagement and in-store profitability.

Genetec Retail Sense works with new or existing installations and is available on a subscription basis.

Hikvision: iDS-2CD6810F/C

The iDS-2CD6810F/C from Hikvision is a specialised people counting camera. The dual lens device is capable of supporting separate counting of people entering, exiting, and passing by a specified area of interest.

The camera combines various advanced technologies, including ‘binocular stereo vision’, three-dimensional people detection and tracking, and height filtering, to guarantee high levels of accuracy when counting.

The camera makes use of a 1/3 inch progressive scan CMOS chipset, and uses dual lenses and dual CPUs to support stereo views. Options include the fitment of 2mm, 2.8mm and 4mm lenses.

The camera uses H.264 compression and offers a maximum resolution of 960 x 640 pixels. Bit rate can be set from 32Kbps to 8Mbps. Video is captured at 25fps.

The camera makes use of flash memory to store the people counting data. It can either be powered via PoE or a standard low power 12V DC PSU can be used.

The camera requires overhead mounting. The 2.0mm lens model has a maximum mounting height of 4 metres. The 2.8mm lens model has a maximum mounting height of 4.7 metres and the 4.0mm lens model has a maximum mounting height of 6 metres. All three models have a coverage area of 5.2 metres.

Axis: AXIS Queue Monitor

AXIS Queue Monitor measures and analyses queues so retailers can better match store personnel with customer traffic, opening tills when required to decrease waiting times and improve customer satisfaction.

The software provides statistics about queue duration and queue fluctuations for a store over the course of the day. Statistics on average queue lengths can help determine staffing levels on certain days and at certain times, leading to more cost-effective human resource planning.

Queue thresholds can also be established in real-time, to prompt the opening of a new cash register when the number of people in a line-up exceeds the limit.

Queue Monitor allows the user to define areas of interest, such as at a hot spot, to collect data on the approximate number of people at the location at any given time. The information can be used to facilitate testing of promotions. The software makes it simple to measure campaigns and analyse traffic patterns over periods of time.

AXIS Queue Monitor runs as an embedded application on all Axis Communications cameras which offer support for the AXIS Camera Application Platform.

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