How IP Video Can Improve Retail Operations

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With retail theft on the rise, many retailers install Internet protocol (IP) cameras for security purposes. But the benefits of video surveillance can go far beyond reducing shoplifting. Many retailers don’t realize that IP-based video is data that can be gathered, stored and analyzed just like any other electronic information.

IP video offers visual insight and contextual information that can be fused with hard data from point-of-sale systems (POS), time and attendance systems, and smart shelf sensors. Software solutions from business intelligence companies aggregate this information and link IP video to other retail systems. With these integrations, executives gain actionable insights into store operations and customers’ shopping behaviors.

Here are three main areas where IP video can provide retailers with specific and actionable business intelligence that benefits single stores and the entire retail chain.

Data-Driven Sales

Every retailer has some stores that perform better than others. Even a single store can have sharp differences in day-to-day sales. Fortunately, these inconsistencies can be addressed with the right insights. By matching IP video with the highs and lows in sales data, managers can correlate low sales with in-store performance. Perhaps an underperforming store doesn’t have enough stock on its shelves or too many employees are taking breaks during the busiest times.

In loss prevention training, managers can play back video of POS exceptions and point out clues in customers’ body language to help employees spot theft. IP video can also be used in conflict resolution training. Were a customer’s concerns resolved or did the customer become angry and leave before a resolution was reached? By linking video to other store data, management can identify problems, opportunities and steps to improve store performance.

Successful Merchandising

Retailers know that making merchandising decisions has traditionally been more of an art than a science. Thanks to IP video, any IP camera can be turned into a merchandising tool. Use video to better understand customer trends and analyze sales conversion, customer dwell and product lift. Data from IP cameras can also help managers understand store occupancy over a period of time. Retailers can measure store performance during major events like holidays, sales or grand openings.

Camera placement also plays a role in merchandising. IP cameras placed above displays help merchants determine what attracts customers and generates the most sales. This can be useful in negotiating with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, which pay a premium for the best shelf space. Cameras can also be used to show compliance with product placements, adding value to CPG companies.

Greater Safety, Less Liability

Videos from strategically-placed IP surveillance cameras capture correct and incorrect procedures. Watching these events in action can be used for training and compliance audits across the retail operation. Risk managers can actively monitor their stores for any conditions or procedures that could be hazardous to customers or employees.

If an accident does occur, IP video can aid in the investigation. Use video to determine the severity of the problem, identify who is responsible and conclude what action is needed. Video can also minimize liability at the corporate level if it’s determined that an accident was staged.

Going Beyond Loss Prevention

A wealth of information is hidden in IP video data. By linking IP video to other store data, managers gain the insights they need to make more intelligent business decisions and dramatically improve efficiency and profitability across all store operations.

The opinions expressed in this piece are solely Sony's. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.

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