Unlocking the Value of Video in the Retail Environment

May 21, 2012
Integrated IP Systems with smarter cameras add more than just ‘extra eyes’

Video surveillance has proven to be a useful tool in the retail sector, but historically its use has been specific and somewhat limited. Cameras provide extra “eyes” to enable loss prevention and to help security professionals protect their employers’ resources, but the utility of video had historically ended there. Today’s video surveillance systems deliver a substantial array of benefits to the retail market; and tomorrow’s emerging capabilities will only enhance those advantages, making video one of retail’s most essential bottom-line tools.

The advent of IP video systems has opened the door to a world of operational improvements in the retail sector. Now it is possible to integrate video with other systems — whether to make video of remote locations available for store management on the network, or to integrate video with point-of-sale (POS) systems to provide instant access to accompanying video of any transaction. Further enhancing the value of video technology in the retail segment are intelligent video cameras with new capabilities such as face detection and video analytics.

Benefits of Networked Video
Making video available at any location on the network expands its usefulness in retail environments to benefit management, human resources, customer service, and merchandising in addition to security and loss prevention.

Remote video can be accessed via the network to enable managers to view operations at every location without the need to physically visit the stores. The benefits include more effective management of manpower, ensuring employee performance and compliance with company rules, along with the ability to view customer in-store traffic patterns and ensure that merchandising display materials are in place in every location.

In short, video across the network greatly increases access to “eyes” watching every corner of a retail business operation.

Video at the Point of Sale: Computerized point-of-sale (POS) systems provide a valuable tool in loss prevention by tracking every sale, by allowing a business owner to review specific questionable or exceptional transactions and by sorting transactions according to type or dollar amount.

Integrating video expands the loss prevention capabilities of POS systems to a whole new level. For example, computer records alone do not always pinpoint a responsible party, for example, in cases involving unauthorized use of another employee’s POS password — but video can.

Integration of POS and video surveillance systems enables a retail owner to view a video “clip” of any transaction completed by a POS system. Further, video surveillance data of refunds can confirm that an actual customer was present and received the refunded money. Using POS integration, business owners can easily sort and review video clips of specific interest without having to scan hours of video footage.

Smarter Cameras: The latest generation of network video cameras has more intelligence embedded in the camera, and smart camera technologies have many useful applications in the retail sector. Intelligent network cameras now offer face detection, advanced motion detection and auto tracking, among other functions.

More intelligence in the camera can help to pre-select and “filter” what video is shared across the network, thus minimizing bandwidth and storage requirements. Edge-based recording (using a chip inside the camera) ensures that high-resolution video is preserved independent of the network connection.

Video analytics at the edge can trigger an alert for objects left behind, identify activity after hours or provide a virtual trip wire to trigger an alarm when someone crosses a designated border. Other retail benefits of smarter video systems include crowd counting, tracking customer traffic patterns and sounding an alert when a check-out line is too long.

Video systems are now also able to identify attributes of customers such as relative age and gender, suggesting a whole new future range of useful tools to identify customer patterns.

Greg Peratt is Director of Sales, Video Solutions Integration for Panasonic.

About the Author

Greg Peratt

Greg Peratt is Director of Sales, Video Solutions Integration for Panasonic.