ECR Retail Loss Group has created a report which calls for retailers to leverage more benefits from their video surveillance investment, The report, authored by professor emeritus Adrian Beck, urges retailers to leverage video analytics more strategically to control costs, improve operations and increase profitability. Commissioned by the ECR Retail Loss Group and supported by an independent research grant from Genetec, the report offers advice for retailers on extracting an optimum level of value from video surveillance systems.
Titled Reviewing the Use of Video Technologies in Retail, the data used was collected from in-depth interviews and site visits with representatives from 22 retailers based in Europe and the US. These include some of the largest retailers in the world, with collective sales of over $1 trillion – equivalent to approximately 12 per cent of the total US and European retail market.
The report summarises the ways in which video systems in general, and video analytics in particular, are being deployed across retail businesses, including their use by legal teams for health and safety compliance, and monitoring slip, trip, and fall incidents.
It also addresses business intelligence applications. These can be used to improve customer service through better staff response times and product availability. Other functions include heat mapping, logging customer dwell times, people counting, queue monitoring, delivery alerts and improving pick accuracy.
Retail is one of the sectors impacted by COVID-Secure regulations, and video analytics have already proved to offer a high number of benefits to many sites. With a number of applications such as implementation of social distancing and occupancy control, mask detection and temperature monitoring, many retailers can leverage existing systems to automate many of the front-line checks which make their sites safer for customers and staff.
Given the value of real-time data to a retail organisation, a key recommendation of the research is the appointment of a video Tsar with responsibility for the strategic use of video across a business.
Professor emeritus Beck stated, ‘While video technologies have been used in some form or other in retailing for over 40 years, the research found few examples of retailers where its role, purpose and capability to contribute to business success was clearly articulated. Video analytics is a technology with a broad-ranging and rapidly evolving capability, but what seems clear from this research is the need for explicit leadership, greater application across retail functions, improved integration of video technologies with existing systems, and better alignment of video system design with organisational objectives.’
The report concludes that the role of video technologies in retailing is growing wider, with many use-cases illustrating the flexibility on offer. The traditional requirements from video systems focused on a need to detect, deter and reassure. However, today’s technology allows use-cases to be more expansive. As technology evolves, video will be of value in many more applications, adding benefits to a broad range of retail functions.
The report illustrates that the overall use of video technologies will grow. Increased competition, rising costs and shrinking margins will drive technologies to address market challenges. The flexibility of video technologies will allow use in a wider set of circumstances. While still providing security and safety, video solutions will also deliver actionable data about the staff, customers and the site itself.
The final consideration is that when used solely for security, it is difficult to definitively identify a system’s ROI (return on investment). However, when business intelligence, personnel management and customer service are included, sales conversions can be tracked and actions implemented to increase profitability.