It’s been quite a year. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on retail operations, forcing stores to shut down, re-evaluate operations, and transform online experiences. And it couldn’t come at a worse time.
The rise of e-commerce has cast a significant shadow over brick-and-mortar retail over the past years, and traditional brick-and-mortar stores fell into decline. The arrival of COVID-19, which saw the shutdown of physical retail locations while locked-down consumers surfed the deals brought by online retail giants, dealt traditional stores another blow.
But now that life is returning to something approaching normal, the retailers that managed to survive are working on a comeback. In fact, the trends many have experienced so far is a jump in customer visits and revenue. While some stores are still working their way back, some are already really excited about the future.
But the fact remains that the traditional approach to retail is no longer the ideal approach. The good ‘ole retail success playbook will likely have to be thrown out, and significant action will be required to stand out from the competition. A recent report from Deloitte finds that this is, in fact, a great opportunity to transform the businesses and rewrite the rules of the retail industry.
In this blog series, we’ll touch upon the various facets in which retailers can rewrite the rules of success. And today, we start with digital transformation.
The Time is Now
With the pandemic taking the volume of digital interactions to unprecedented levels, many retailers expect a continued increase in demand for digital enhancements through 2021. And you may think this topic refers to online experiences but think again: it’s the physical spaces that are driving the new topic of digital differentiation.
The urgency of digital transformation isn’t new, but the pandemic only intensified the need for a digital-first retail environment. Retail leaders are being increasingly asked to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon as stores look for new ways to modernise their customer experiences, increase safety, monitor operations, and ensure security to limit loss.
The bottom line is that retailers are searching for new ways to leverage innovation to meet their overall business goals. That’s where video surveillance comes in. It’s not just about security and safety anymore — not by a long shot.
With video at the core of store operations, the retail industry can gain more value than just observation capabilities. In fact, it is today’s successful retailers that are realising that the physical store is a crucial place to establish a brand and build trust. Physical retail locations are places where the customer can physically handle the product and video can help drive the digital transformation initiatives that ensure guests engage with the right product, at the right time. Overall, video can be at the core of the Internet of Things (IoT), helping stores gain a deeper understanding of what is driving consumer behaviour to help:
• Enable physical retailers to understand their space and make it work better for them.
• Understand how they will benefit from a greater understanding of what is happening on premise.
• See revenue increase by integrating video with various sensors to realise unprecedented levels of insight and business intelligence.
While loss prevention may still be the primary buyer, investments in video can also increase employee productivity and optimise the customer shopping experience. When looking to ensure that customers return in the future, look no further than leveraging video to increase their loyalty and their engagement. When video is combined with video and customer behaviour analytics, it becomes a potent retail tool.
Video and analytics hold enormous potential for retail marketing and customer service departments. Imagine using heat mapping to determine what endcap merchandise attracts the highest foot traffic. Or see the benefits of using video data to allocate staff resources more efficiently because you were able to recognise longer than standard checkout lines beginning to queue. These visions are now realities with advanced technologies.
The bottom line is this: Retailers must keep sight of who their customer is, what their customer is looking for and what they need to keep doing to meet their needs. Without this vision, retail falls behind. That is why leveraging video data to help ensure increased engagement can make a significant different. As we’ve said before, it is the retailers that have built infrastructures and processes that empower them to be agile that are ahead today. And it is these organisations that have made a bet on digital transformation and incorporating video as part of their internal strategies. For them, the future is bright. What about you?