October 23, 2019
How Retailers Can Tap Video Analytics to Improve Customer Experiences
Enhanced by analytics software, video cameras installed for security can protect a store’s brand and bottom line too.
If you’re looking for new and different ways to provide a great customer experience, consider the surveillance systems you already have in your stores, warehouses and even parking lots. They’re there to thwart theft, but with a little incremental investment, these systems can identify opportunities to wow customers and keep them coming back.
Take checkout lines, for example. Research shows that the longer customers have to wait, the more likely they are to give up and leave a store — and possibly never shop there again. But it’s expensive overkill to keep every checkout line staffed all the time.
Many stores already have video surveillance cameras in their checkout areas to catch shoplifters and pilfering employees (and those that do not can simply add a few cameras at a minimal cost). With the addition of analytics software, those cameras can identify when lines are getting long. The software then can automatically alert staff to open additional registers, including mobile point-of-sale terminals that associates can use for checkout anywhere in the store.
At the same time, the software can track when those peaks occur and, over time, use that data to predict spikes in traffic, helping the store know exactly when to staff up and when to run lean. The result: Customers aren’t standing around — and neither are associates.
What Are Your Customers Really Experiencing?
Elsewhere in the store, cameras used to spot shoplifting can do double duty by enabling heat maps: Are there patterns in how customers travel inside a store? Where do they linger, and for how long? These insights help retailers to refine layouts and product placement, as well as to determine the ideal locations for digital signage.
Those heat maps also can include demographic insights. For example, which displays make female shoppers stop? Do younger shoppers take different paths through a store? It’s even possible to analyze sentiment in customers’ faces to determine when they look frustrated, confused or pleased with what they are looking at.
Key Considerations for Deploying Advanced In-Store Video Solutions
Retailers should keep in mind a few key considerations when augmenting a security system for analytics. These camera networks traditionally are operated by departments such as security and loss prevention. But if video is accessible to other departments, such as customer experience, privacy may become a concern. To ensure shopper privacy, a store may need to pixelate images of customers’ faces, with unmasked versions available only to authorized employees.
Responsibility for the camera networks also may need to shift. For example, with the migration from analog to IP camera technology, many systems now are maintained by a retailer’s IT department. The addition of analytics for customer experience and other applications is another reason for the IT team to take over, because it’s already most likely responsible for the network, servers, storage and software.
Another consideration is whether the existing camera infrastructure can support customer experience initiatives. For example, upgrading to higher-resolution cameras might be unnecessary if the initiatives don’t require capturing demographic nuances such as age or ethnicity. If existing cameras don’t cover every aspect of the shopping experience, a few additional ones might be required.
Finally, look beyond the store floor for additional insights into the customer experience. For example, in the warehouse, video cameras trained on conveyer belts can catch damaged boxes before they’re shipped to customers. In the parking lot, cameras can determine how many spots are open and how far shoppers have to walk. The better the experience, the more likely customers are to keep coming back.
And you may be surprised to learn how cost-effective it is to enhance your video surveillance solution.
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