Most offline retail outlets have a security and surveillance system in place. But often this is more as means to frighten potential thieves than help protect profits and improve the customer experience.
Globally, the video surveillance market is growing at a significant rate and is expected to touch $62 billion by 2023. With a growing demand for digitization, analog systems are being replaced by IP cameras, which are easy to install, have almost on-par cost and are highly durable.
Sudhindra Holla, Sales Director for India & SAARC at Axis Communications believes that Indian retailers can do a lot more with their surveillance systems than just looking out for mischief makers. By studying shopping demographics such as low and high traffic periods and movement around the store, he explains that retailers can enhance a buyer’s experience as well as their conversion rate.
What is the degree of surveillance that majority of Indian brick-and-mortar retailers currently employ? What challenges does it address and how effective is it?
Currently, retailers are heavily investing in surveillance for loss prevention in order to protect their stores and assets. It is of key significance to have comprehensive coverage of the store, particularly in areas of high risk – the point of sale and exits. While losses resulting from theft may substantially go down, a lack of consideration still remains for the most important asset – the customer. The secret to a successful, healthy store is in the customer’s experience.
What percentage of this current surveillance system is digitized?
In India, around 60% of retailers have installed surveillance systems. Of this, only 20% is digitised, while the remainder are still analog.
Do you see Indian retailers using technologies in their stores to help them measure consumer traffic and buyer engagement with products or services?
Currently, Indian retailers have employed surveillance systems that are mostly analog. However, we are noticing the shift from analog to Network IP as a trend in the sector. What retailers are yet to explore is a network-based retail surveillance system, in which video analytics become the brains behind the decision making. In this aspect, awareness is key – retailers need to be brought up to speed on the benefits of such a system and the impact it has on their customers’ in-store experience.
Most retail outlets have surveillance cameras that gather tons of data round the clock, but this information is not leveraged. Do you agree?
Retailers may have surveillance systems in place, but they fail to fully understand how these systems can produce more than just footage that can be viewed real time or at a later time. The footage gathered can be analysed to derive business decisions that would optimise the store’s operations.
Café Coffee Day (CCD) outlets in the country have installed Axis Communications’ solutions for loss prevention analytics, which has helped optimize the store’s operations. Our solution provided business intelligence to the coffee chain regarding their employee’s behaviour, level of customer service offered, areas of employee training, consumer behaviour and time graphs related to consumer walk-ins.
How can retailers use these surveillance for better insight into customer buying habits and preferences?
Retailers can opt for a surveillance solution that houses intelligent solutions which have the latest analytics technology. The idea behind this is to start ‘listening’ to your store, because it has a lot to tell. By studying customer demographics such as low and high traffic periods, movement around the store, dwell time of the visitors in different areas of the store, you can enhance both their experience as well as your conversion rate.
In e-commerce, such analytics have been used to convert browsers to buyers by using the derived business intelligence. However, with the advent of video analytics, bricks and mortar retailers are beginning to close the gap on the analytics advantage. The perks of the system that we witness range from the head-count of the visitors to aggregated insights across the store network. For example, queue monitoring enables retailers to allocate staff or open new counters to limit long queues which may affect their purchases.
Is it possible to come up with options like micro-targeting individual buyers with specific offers and promotions based on their shopping pattern?
The very reason retailers should have retail analytics in place is to influence buying behaviour in order to increase sales. Analytics in the surveillance system will help retailers to identify the hot and cold spots of the store and drive sales accordingly. By identifying the areas of the store in which customers often stick around, they will be able to conclude the areas which customers do not dwell much on. The cold spots are then subject to offers and promotions to draw in customers.
Recordings of in-store traffic also help retailers to map out the time period in which they have lower traffic and fix a sale during that time to garner more sales.
How can they use surveillance information to enhance staff management and improve efficiencies when it comes to pushing the right kind of inventory on the shelves?
Retail intelligence from a single smart solution will improve the customer experience, while optimizing staff productivity and boosting in-store campaigns. In order to ensure prompt service, retail analytics help efficiently delegate work to the staff by placing employees at strategic points. Occupancy rates derived from analytics will help retailers to manage staffing levels throughout the day.
Identifying the way in which shoppers behave in-store and interact with their surroundings, allows bricks and mortar retailers to optimize their displays and strategies to tempt those browsing into making a purchase.
What are some foreseeable trends in the retail surveillance domain within the next couple of years?
With the evolution of technology, brick-and-mortar stores need to catch up with their online counterparts in order to avoid losing their edge. Long wait times at checkouts and poor customer service can make visiting a store a burden. The job of the retailer is to ensure that the customer chooses visiting a store over shopping online. Therefore, stores must find ways of adapting to accommodate customer preferences to help turn visitors into paying customers.
Network audio solutions is another trend that we foresee. This system is an all-in-one solution for several uses – making pre-recorded, live announcements or playing background music. This is a cost-effective transition as retailers will no longer need to sustain and manage separate systems for these functions. To ensure an optimal communication mix, the inbuilt scheduling functionality has the benefit of starting and stopping the content automatically.
Store managers can now rest, knowing that the pre-recorded scheduled announcements will be played at the right time. Additionally, music can have a significant impact on a customer’s propensity to buy.