Video surveillance has been a staple of retail security for over 20 years – particularly in Asia, which contains approximately 65% of the world’s CCTV cameras. Clearly video surveillance is a vital part of any retail security solution, but even when I speak with security managers from global brands they often don’t realise there are new technologies they can use to reinforce and enhance their video surveillance.
By adding video analytics to your video surveillance network you can create a ‘smart’ solution that automates many of the processes currently worked on by your security staff and can support them to deliver a more efficient, and more secure, network.
Do you still have a series of mugshots taped to the wall of your security office, or even hanging behind the till? Video analytics can now deploy facial recognition software that will automatically detect when someone you’ve flagged previously for criminal behaviour enters the store and automatically alert the relevant members of staff. It won’t be long before cameras can also detect shapes, such as a large coat, and notify staff if it recognises the motion of hiding something underneath it. Equally video analytics is close to being able to ‘spot’ if someone is holding a dangerous weapon and alert the authorities that a situation may be about to develop.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg, currently automatic doors use pressure sensors to indicate when a person is outside and open the door. Combining video analytics and facial recognition you could create automatic doors that only open to recognised employees. The cameras detect that a person is approaching and only unlock the door if they ‘recognise’ them. While this has obvious implications for creating safe, out-of-bounds areas for customers, it could also be used in warehouses and stock-rooms so that employees carrying large boxes no longer need to put the products down to use a key or swipe a pass.
Combine this into an even bigger solution that includes machine learning and you can achieve targets previously only imagined by sci-fi novels. Video technology can now automatically track a customer’s reaction to certain visual cues. Questions on which displays are holding people’s sight for the longest, which are eliciting a sigh, and which get people picking up products can be answered with quantifiable, results-based metrics – and without a sales assistant lurking with a clipboard! The ability to respond to these messages is key in increasing customer engagement, retention and sales. In this way, video breaks out of the security silo and can help unite intelligence and efficiency across the business.
Some hotels in Paris, for example, have recently begun using facial recognition software to recognise regular or high-valued guests before they enter the building. The concierge is then ready to greet them in a personally-tailored manner before they step through the door. The longer such technology is in place the more it can learn about a customer base or even individual customers, and therefore the more information it can push out to employees to customise each and every client’s experience.
In addition to keeping your stores secure, the use of video analytics can also increase business understanding and intelligence. With emerging technology and sensors connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced software analysing big data, customer journeys can be tracked. This allows you to see how customers move and interact with merchandise and displays within a store.
For example, you may see that when leaving the men’s shoe section, the vast majority of shoppers go to the till in the women’s fashion area in order to complete their purchase. Perhaps this is burdening an already busy till, or it limits the number of impulse purchases from men because the products in that area are not targeted at them. Once you have detected this issue you can adjust your merchandising to ensure a better customer experience and increased revenue.
This is just one of the thousands of subtle changes video technology can make which add up to a real difference in sales, engagement and the overall customer experience. Studies have shown that 54 per cent of retailers worldwide with above-average sales understand that the use of IoT is set to have a dramatic change into the way companies will operate and do business over the next three years.