Considerations for Video Analytics in Retail

There was a time, just a few years ago, when many people thought video analytics for the retail market would give them all the information they could possibly need by simply plugging in a camera and pressing record. The promises did not live up to the hype and video analytics never saw the rapid adoption by the retail market that was anticipated at the time. Today, however, expectations have been reset and video analytics systems have become more sophisticated and technologically advanced. Though it is still not a plug-and-play world, video analytics can significantly empower retailers when they invest in the proper video infrastructure and take the time to understand how they want use the analytics.

Video Analytics RetailThe biggest key to success is being able to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for out of a video analytics program. This is particularly important because different applications call for different equipment, setup, and data. For example, if the loss prevention department is interested in employee theft or fictitious transactions at the registers, cameras should be placed with a clear line of sight to the register. On the other hand, if management wants to analyze the behavior of how long people are standing in the queue and which end cap displays are most effective; a wide-angle lens covering a larger field of view may be more cost-effective.

Loss prevention and sales/merchandising are the two main applications for video analytics in retail. With loss prevention applications, retailers must define their requirements as specifically as possible; for example, whether they are attempting to eliminate shrinkage from internal theft, external theft, or both. They should also decide if there are specific behaviors, such as loitering, that store personnel want notifications about; or if management is looking to understand transaction inaccuracies in specific cash registers. This isn’t a loss prevention application

Since a video analytics system is set up to collect a lot of data, a natural inclination for retailers is to use some of that data to understand their customers’ behavior. The biggest challenges for retailers with merchandising applications are determining the specific scenarios they want data for, as well as in what form they want the data. Who will be using the data is just as important as what data they want to see.

For example, does the marketing department want quarterly reports of the effectiveness of promotional events or end caps? In this case, they most likely do not want to see video clips, but rather reports from the clips that tell them how often customers visited the end caps compared with the transactional sales of those items during the specific period.

One final consideration for choosing the right video analytics program is to make sure the supplier and installing company have longevity and experience in these complex programs and will be able to support  the needs of the organization. Video analytics companies are in large supply, but not all of them may be around in another five years. Therefore, taking the time to find a supplier that meets the organization’s needs and will be available for a long-term partnership is the final piece of the analytics pie.

Let us know how you are using video analytics in your retail establishment (or want to) by leaving a comment below.