There is a lot of talk about how data analytics can improve retail operations. But according to Andy Martin, Retail & Logistics Lead at Hikvision UK and Ireland, video data coming from smart cameras has an especially powerful role to play. In particular, it has specific and compelling advantages in terms of enhancing customer experiences, boosting sales, improving operational controls and streamlining costly manual processes.
The pace of change in retail has always been intense. From the introduction of self-checkouts to contactless payments, the deployment of fully unattended environments and blended in-store and online shopping experiences, innovation has been the only constant.
These changes have had a huge impact on physical, bricks-and-mortar stores. Where customers previously entered, browsed, purchased goods, and only left after interaction with a sales person – the buying journey has become far more varied and complex. In many cases, customers can now purchase goods in-store, collect online purchases from the checkout or kiosks, and order goods online on their phones – all in the same physical store.
All this means that retailers need to adapt quickly, and in the right ways, to ensure customers' needs are met – whatever they expect from their in-store experience.
The good news is that the latest smart video solutions can help in three key ways.
1. Smart video enhances customer experiences
With the latest generation of smart video solutions, retailers can achieve a level of 'situational awareness' in-store that would not otherwise be possible, supporting better, faster customer service.
With the right AI capabilities built into a video security solution, for example, alerts can be generated automatically if the number of customers in the store or at any given part of the store exceeds a defined threshold. This allows staff to focus routine tasks such as deliveries, inventory, and merchandising, and turn their attention to helping customers on the shop floor only when required. Stores can also detect the build-up of queues at checkouts or kiosks and divert staff to those areas to reduce waiting times.
The industry's leading smart video solutions can also improve the overall shopping environment in countless other ways, from alerting staff when a product is sold out on a particular shelf, to detecting liquid spills or other obstacles that impact customers. Additionally, analysis of video data can help stores refine layouts and determine where kiosks and other in-store equipment should be positioned to minimize congestion and speed up customer journeys.
While various other forms of data analytics can also provide data on the number of customers in store and their typical footfall, only video allows managers to see what a physical customer journey around the store looks like. This provides unique and unparalleled insights into how their experience can be improved, making video a true asset for customer service.
2. AI video: how to increase business performance
With smart video, stores can get real insights into how processes and product placement can be improved – leading to measurable performance gains and revenue growth.
For example, the leading smart video solutions can identify merchandising 'hot zones', and to adjust product placement to maximize sales.
Business performance can also be increased as smart video cameras combine with other retail data points to improve in-store stock accuracy throughout the supply chain. This ensures that the right products are always available in store to maximize sales revenues and to avoid losses due to customers not finding what they need in stock.
Equally importantly, stores can use AI video solutions to minimize risks, such as shoplifting, that negatively impact their business performance. It becomes possible, for example, to send alerts automatically to security teams in the event of a security incident, helping to deliver major savings that contribute to the bottom line.
3. Smart video boosts efficiency
In competitive markets, and in the face of intense online competition, retailers need to minimize their operating overheads and maximize efficiency. Here, the latest smart video solutions can help – providing insights that support more automated and efficient operations.
Smart video, for example, is invaluable for brands looking to implement semi-attended or unattended retail stores. Video data provides the checks and balances needed to ensure that customers in these kinds of retail environments can find and purchase the products they are looking for, and that security at the checkout and in other areas of the store is taken care of.
Another way smart video is improving efficiency is by cross-referencing transaction data with video data to reduce manual work and admin. One example of this is the ability to review video footage of orders being packed for customers at distribution centers. This speeds up dispute resolution and reduces costs associated with compensating customer complaints. Likewise, any errors relating to in-store payments can be reviewed using video data that is linked with transaction numbers in checkout systems, reducing the need for in-depth, manual accounting investigations.
Finally, but equally importantly, automated alerts for sold-out stock, liquid spills, and other events saves a huge amount of time for staff, supporting cost reductions and ensuring that customer service is prioritized.
How can Hikvision help?
To help retailers adapt and thrive in today's competitive markets, Hikvision has created a comprehensive range of smart video retail solutions. These provide real-time awareness of the store environment, allowing retailers to up their game in terms of customer service, while also reducing costly, time-consuming, manual processes. Video data can also be used to improve product placement, reduce incidences of sold-out stock, and improve store security – helping to drive performance and maximize revenues and profits.
To find out how Hikvision can help your store to optimize customer service, performance, and operating efficiency, please visit the website. You can also contact us to discuss your specific requirements and we'll be happy to help.