The Smart Choice for Retail Surveillance

Aug. 2, 2012
How retailers can leverage intelligent video to both increase security and contribute to the bottom line

As shrinkage continues across the globe — ranging from 1-3 percent of retail sales globally according to a recent report by Frost & Sullivan — retailers are looking for ways to combat the loss and increase profits.

One way that both big box and specialty retailers protect against crime is by using video surveillance, including analog and IP cameras, encoders and decoders, video management software and networked video recorders. However, today’s retailers are demanding a more comprehensive video security suite, one that leverages current infrastructure and can serve the entire organization: from security and loss prevention, to marketing, merchandising, customer care, operations, logistics and store planning.

Retailers Trying to Keep Pace
The retail industry is transforming from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to newer technology platforms such as online websites with e-commerce functionality. As a result, the remaining brick-and-mortar retailers have had to revisit their strategic priorities to focus on higher levels of customer experience, channel convergence plans and new marketing and merchandizing approaches.

In today’s highly competitive retail environment, traditional ways of measuring store performance and in-store activity do not provide the empirical accuracy or insights for optimizing security and operational effectiveness. As the competition to attract shoppers and enhance sales and profit margins intensifies, investing in technologies that provide retailers a competitive edge becomes essential.

One way of leveraging current video management systems and extracting intelligent data for all retail operations is with the availability of high-powered computing platforms along with advanced video content analysis algorithms. Using these video analytics and business intelligence platforms, retailers can leverage their current video surveillance infrastructure to derive intelligence, track and analyze customer traffic, monitor and manage staff, and ensure efficient product placement and store layouts.

These solutions extract accurate and holistic data about customer behavior patterns — beyond what traditional POS and people-counting technologies can provide. Specific insights from video business intelligence help retailers make more informed decisions to improve in-store marketing, increase operational efficiency, boost sales, raise customer satisfaction levels and improve the overall shopping experience.

Retail Security Technologies
Here are the major security-related platforms that retailers use to meet security and organizational goals. Let’s look at how intelligent video can enhance these technologies and impact a retailer’s bottom-line.

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS): The most widely deployed technology to help prevent shoplifting at retail locations today, EAS uses tags that are adhered to merchandise to monitor their location. If an EAS tag remains on the article after exiting the store, the detection system sounds an alarm alerting staff to investigate. For high-value goods, wired alarm clips may be used instead of tags.

Video Surveillance: After EAS, video surveillance is the most popular form of retail security. Industry research firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts that video surveillance will continue to grow 6-8 percent over the next 8-10 years to help prevent vandalism and curb shoplifting. Most retailers are upgrading current video system infrastructures to enjoy the benefits of IP-based technology.

Analytics: Analytics-enabled applications are being adopted alongside video surveillance to help deliver insight into shopper behaviors. IP video technology coupled with an integrated suite of video analytics solutions can be the key to building business performance, with a higher return on investment and improved customer conversion rates. By leveraging video analytics in conjunction with a video management platform, retailers can better understand the answers to some of these questions:
• How many customers are in the store at specific times of the day / days of the months / months of the year?
• Which areas of the stores generate the highest conversion rates and what locations do customers dwell or spend the most time?
• Where are the “premium real estate” locations in the store that receive the most foot traffic?
• How do people interact with in-store promos and product placement?
• Who is purchasing store brands versus the national brands?
• How can we measure the traffic patterns within the store?

Intrusion Detection: Many retailers use intrusion detection technology only for after-hours defense. The system is connected to video surveillance devices as well as integrated with local security agencies to monitor the store’s perimeter. This technology is one of the only lines of protection against after-hours theft. Integration of intrusion detection systems and intelligent video analytics can provide retailers with detailed information on the store’s perimeter security.

Access Control: Restricted areas within the retail environment can be monitored using access control panels. Employees and staff are required to wear a badge that must be scanned and electronically approved in order to gain entry to those locations. This technology helps monitor who has access to which parts of the store and can pinpoint which person is in a room if an incident occurs.

Leveraging Intelligent Video for Retail Sales Advancement
To stay competitive in the market, retail executives can deploy technology that provides more insight into what is happening at brick-and-mortar store locations. As such, many of today’s retailers are seeking intelligent video applications to meet security challenges as well as solve operational inefficiency.

Here are some of the benefits:

Enhanced Security: Many retailers are coupling EAS anti-theft systems with intelligent video analytics — deployed as a proactive theft prevention tactic — to provide greater visibility into loss and shrinkage. This source tagging provides retailers with a comprehensive loss prevention system and can be implemented as part of the overall integrated security solution.

By leveraging analytic-based trip wires around the store for intrusion detection, retailers can be immediately notified of triggers or alarms that were activated and then have the corresponding video forwarded to security personnel. This level of detail and instantaneous notification helps retailers protect themselves from potential loss and loitering on premises.

In addition to viewing the flow of authorized staff, retailers are taking loss prevention a step further with installing video analytics that enable retailers to identify, log and monitor employee and customer activities.

Enhanced Customer Experience: Traditionally, retailers gained insight on customer shopping behaviors through loyalty cards and overall trends in POS transactions. Although this information provides a wealth of information about the shopper’s demographics and what they actually purchase, it does not provide insights into the customer’s in-store behavior. Understanding where customers spend most of their time in the store, what time of day they shop, how long they wait in lines and where they dwell (aisles within the store, promotion displays, service counters, etc.) can increase a retailer’s success.

Leveraging a video business intelligence solution helps retailers dramatically reduce their reliance on soft data, replacing it with real-world information to help increase sales, optimize operations, improve the customer experience, and enhance customer value.

Store Performance Management: In order for managers to make strategic business decisions, key performance metrics must include detailed information on overall business operations. Leveraging a business intelligence platform can help retailers make informed decisions by providing people counts with high accuracy rates. In combination with POS data, management can use reliable metrics to benchmark store performance and identify trends. Retail organizations can also use shopper conversion rates to help compensate and incentivize their sales staff.

Workforce Optimization: Without sufficient staff, retailers face dissatisfied customers and lost sales; at the same time, overstaffing increases operational costs. By capturing the full range of shopper traffic monitoring and customer behavior patterns, retailers can make better operational decisions for sales, marketing, staffing and scheduling. Applications can include analytics for traffic flows and shopper movement, that measure and predict queue lengths and wait times, monitor zone activity or provide real-time reporting.

Leveraging a queue management module helps store managers effectively re-assign staff between various departments and check-out counters in real-time, and optimize their daily and weekly staffing requirements.

Improved Marketing and Merchandising: Retailers can use video business intelligence to gain a better understanding of in-store customer behavior in order to measure the success rate of marketing and advertising. They can use these insights to improve store layout, product placement and promotional displays with actual customer behavior in order to increase sales and improve the bottom-line.

Designing Optimal Store Layouts: With a comprehensive data set around shopper traffic, directional analysis, in-store movement patterns, hot spots and dwell times, retailers are able to use that information to improve store layout and overall design. If a certain department is rarely visited, the store layout can be modified in order to help drive shoppers to the area.

By reviewing people count, in-store traffic patterns and dwell times around specific areas and products, retailers can use this data to modify their promotion, design or product placement.
This allows management, marketing and sales departments to all work together to positively impact the shopper’s experience.

Debjit Das is Vice President of Global Marketing for Verint Video Intelligence Solutions. More info:

About the Author

Debjit Das

Debjit Das is Vice President of Global Marketing for Verint Video Intelligence Solutions. More info: