Smart video solutions are giving retailers new opportunities to drive efficiency, helping them make data-driven decisions to streamline their operations. This means they can do more with less, reduce overall operating costs, and increase their resilience in the face of future market fluctuations, says Andy Martin, Retail & Logistics Lead at Hikvision UK and Ireland.
In recent years, retailers in many parts of the world have been exposed to a perfect storm of changing customer behavior, rapid inflation, and rising commodity and staffing costs – all contributing to margin erosion and a higher cost of doing business. At the same time, customers continue to demand highly competitive pricing for their products and services and expect stellar service experiences, both online and instore.
To maintain their profitability and growth in these challenging conditions, retailers need to review, reevaluate, and – in some cases – automate processes entirely to ensure they are as lean and efficient as possible.
Those retailers who successfully address the changing landscape can drive major improvements in the bottom line, usually in a very short timeframe. What's more, they can increase their resilience in the face of future fluctuations in customer expectations.
One key technology that is helping retailers increase efficiency and lower their operating costs is smart video. This goes beyond the capabilities of traditional data analytics to provide real-time, visual awareness of in-store and retail supply chain operations, helping managers identify inefficiencies and reduce manual interventions across the retail value chain.
Specifically, smart video helps retailers operate more efficiently in numerous ways.
1) Deploy highly efficient 'frictionless' retail environments
The latest generation of smart video solutions provides a real-time view of in-store operations and customer journeys. Specifically, AI algorithms in cameras can detect, for example, if a customer needs assistance at a kiosk or self-service checkout terminal, allowing a small number of shop-floor staff to support a very large number of customers effectively. As an additional benefit, smart video solutions can automatically alert security teams if a customer leaves the store with products they haven't paid for, reducing the time and cost associated with manual security patrols.
2) Get in-store staffing right
With AI-powered smart video solutions, store managers can analyze metrics such as footfall and the total number of customers in the store over a period of hours, days, weeks, and months. This is supported by queue monitoring alerts and additional dwell time and volume analysis. Based on these insights, they can flex their in-store teams for the perfect balance of customer experience and operating efficiency.
3) Streamline picking and packing processes
With smart video, alerts can be triggered automatically when stock levels are low – both in the warehouse and on shelves. This means that restocking can be automated based on current stock levels being communicated to the distribution center in real time. With no need for manual interventions in the process, retailers can achieve major efficiency gains in their supply chains, while also ensuring that the right goods are constantly available for customers.
4) Resolve customer disputes and payment issues faster
Smart video in e-commerce reduces losses by allowing managers to review video footage of orders being packed for customers at distribution centers. This allows the retailer to have complete confidence in managing customer disputes, reducing losses and improving the customer experience. Similar applications for retail stores are making huge in-roads into improving controls at the point of sale.
5) Automate delivery processes
Many stores operate in low-emissions zones and city centers where delivery vehicles can only enter during the night and very early morning. With smart video, stores can support automated deliveries, with drivers using intercoms to gain entry to loading bays and delivering pallets and boxes without supervision. Security for automated deliveries can be assured with automatic alerts, for example, if a delivery driver enters an unauthorized area of the loading bay. With no need for staff to be present overnight, stores can achieve major cost savings.
A large number of retailers in multiple sectors are using Hikvision smart video solutions to improve their efficiency and lower their operating costs. As well as supporting unattended retail operations, Hikvision solutions provide new insights for automated security monitoring, right-sizing instore teams, and resolving customer disputes more effectively. Equally importantly, the Hikvision portfolio supports automation of logistics and delivery processes to further increase operating efficiency and lower costs.
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