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Leverage In-Store CCTV Systems for Smart Retail Solution

CCTV Systems

When you shop online, you leave behind a trail of digital breadcrumbs for retailers to analyze. By tracking your mouse clicks and even abandoned shopping baskets, retailers can tell which products you love, which you ignore, and which ones to bring back to your attention through targeted ads.

While e-commerce retailers can harness such shopper insights, their brick-and-mortar counterparts have historically not been able to do so as easily. Charting the customer journey from when a buyer is drawn to a product display to the final sale has been difficult within the walls of a physical store.

But thanks to computer vision analytics (CVA), retailers can now use the CCTV systems they might already have to access data about the in-store shopper. By bringing more precise journey tracking to brick-and-mortar, these technologies empower retailers to make better decisions about merchandising displays, product assortment, and staffing to improve sales.

#Technologies empower #retailers to make better decisions about merchandising displays, product assortment, and staffing to improve sales. @johnsoncontrols via @insightdottech

Harnessing CCTV Systems for Computer Vision Analytics

The most frictionless approach to shopper data access in a brick-and-mortar location is to leverage the store’s existing technology infrastructure whenever possible, says Dustin Ares, General Manager of Video Analytics, AI and Incubation at Sensormatic Solutions, a provider of digital solutions for the retail industry.

In-store CCTV systems can track shopper behavior so retailers can tell which products are noticed or ignored, and how long it takes to make a sale. Sensormatic Solutions CVA piggybacks on CCTV units, using them as camera sensors in an edge inferencing system. The company feeds this camera data to proprietary AI algorithms that conduct real-time inferencing to provide actionable insights about on-the-floor events. “The edge device allows us to process data, make very quick low-latency decisions and then notify the store associate or manager to take a specific action,” Ares says.

That “specific action” may include reassigning staff to new areas of the store or restocking certain items, depending on shopper traffic and interest. In a few cases, through a headset, a retail associate can receive immediate instructions on how and where to work with customers to nudge a sale.

The very same camera-driven analytics can help retailers address another major pain point: theft. “Red” shoppers are potential shoplifters who often behave differently than their well-intentioned, “green” counterparts. They may pick up items at random or constantly scan the store for associates—and such visual cues from the camera can help nudge associates.

Smart Retail Solutions and Analytics

Retailers who are worried about using cameras to conduct analysis of shopper behavior can access analytics while abiding by privacy and consumer data protection laws like Europe’s GDPR. Sensormatic Solutions models are built with a privacy-by-design mindset; they don’t retain or process privately identifiable information, processing only metadata at the edge.

The company is also conscious of the potential for bias in AI models. “We vet our models rigorously to ensure that we’re not propagating bias, especially if we’re doing demographics evaluation,” Ares says. Sensormatic Solutions regularly checks in with its parent company, smart building solutions provider Johnson Controls, to keep abreast of global regulations and compliance in the field. “We want to make sure that we’re not only compliant but also thinking ahead about our product and where we think the [trendlines] are headed in the future,” Ares says.

A Variety of Smart Retail Use Cases

While understanding shopper behavior demographics and loss prevention are significant retailer concerns, they are by no means the only issues on the industry’s mind.

A European chocolatier used Sensormatic Solutions CVA to test-drive the efficacy of a central store display. The merchant discovered lower customer engagement than expected, which led it to route associates closer to the display to improve associate-customer interactions.

In South Korea, Sensormatic Solutions helped a convenience store chain develop an inventory management solution. The retailer was wasting staffing resources by having employees constantly checking inventory levels on fresh-food shelves. Installing camera sensors not only gave accurate information about inventory, but also enabled the retailer to proactively predict when levels might run low so they could take necessary preemptive action.

Sensormatic Solutions is itself a systems integrator. The company has relationships with many channel partners in the industry, especially providers of security solutions for retailers. The company can use in-store systems as is and suggest additional camera units depending on the metrics that need to be measured.

Sensormatic Solutions’ smart retail technology portfolio runs on Intel hardware, specifically the Intel® Core 13th Gen processors and the most recent Intel® Core 14th Gen processors. Intel’s global availability has been an asset for the company, which also has a global footprint.

The Future of Data-Driven Retail

Expect Sensormatic Solutions to deliver more holistic solutions that address a wider swath of retail-related challenges. Ares predicts the company will continue to evolve as a retail data expert, delivering insights not just for individual clients but also providing parameters and analytics for industry-wide benchmarking.

With omnichannel shopping and multiple outlets competing for consumer eyeballs, retail is as complex an endeavor as it has ever been. Fortunately, even brick-and-mortar stores can use CCTV systems to leverage insights and make business less complex. Data-driven analytics that underlie smart retail solutions can help retailers of all stripes achieve an impressive set of efficiency goals.

Edited by Georganne Benesch, Editorial Director for

About the Author

Poornima Apte is a trained engineer turned technology writer. Her specialties run a gamut of technical topics from engineering, AI, IoT, to automation, robotics, 5G, and cybersecurity. Poornima's original reporting on Indian Americans moving to India in the wake of the country's economic boom won her an award from the South Asian Journalists’ Association. Follow her on LinkedIn.

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