The popularity of online shopping is continuously growing. And thanks to the 24/7 convenience it brings, it isn’t surprising that the market continues to steadily grow in double-digits each year. In fact, it’s expected to become the biggest retail channel in the world by 2021. It’s clear the benefits of access to customer data has allowed online vendors to step up their game in the race for market share, leaving physical stores fighting for survival.
In order to stay afloat, physical retailers must improve their in-store experience and start fighting back by emulating their online counterparts. What physical retailers often fail to realise, however, is that they already possess some of the tools needed to do all of this, and what they really lack is the key to unlocking the full potential their existing systems have to offer.
All retailers today possess an in-store video security system, although few vendors are currently using it to its full potential. The equipment needed for more in-depth analysis of how the store operates and where weaknesses may lie is therefore already there, but is generally only used for one thing. Loss prevention has long been the sole purpose of such systems, but actually they can yield more value.
Therefore, with collaboration rapidly becoming the central buzzword across all industries, retailers must reap the benefits of a system which allows for effective information sharing across organisational boundaries to enhance operations, drive innovation and, most importantly, benefit the customer experience.
Whilst previous focus may have been placed on security, the other valuable information security systems capture on a daily basis can get overlooked. Advanced retail analytics solutions can take the information gathered from video surveillance systems and use it to unlock consumer insights, improve staff performance, enhance the customer experience, and boost sales rates.
Which way do people turn when they walk in the store? How long do they generally spend in store, and how does this vary throughout the day? Are there parts of the store that get less attention than others? Existing surveillance systems can bring forth insights to help answer these questions, giving store managers a chance to adjust operations to boost performance and address issues accordingly.
Make better decisions based on insights from existing systems
Getting access to such insights is one thing, understanding and making sense of the received data is another. Relying on external analysts to gather this data, often from various different sources, is not only costly and time-consuming but also makes this process much more complicated than it needs to be. Getting all the relevant information fed in from separate surveillance solutions into one single unified interface significantly enhances this process in an easily readable and understandable way. What’s more, this information is shared among all relevant parties, which speeds up operations, security related or not, massively. So, whether it’s security, operations or facilities – everyone has access.
This operational insight provides managers with the big picture needed to stay on top of the game at all times, whilst keeping the premises safe. By making use of video footage, heat maps, conversion rates and other analytics tools, retail analytics are suddenly enhanced and can help users better understand customer behaviour – informing strategic decisions to boost engagement and experience. The system may for example be configured to send out an alert to staff when queues are getting too long to ensure a proactive approach to such issues.
Whilst e-commerce is growing in popularity, many still prefer a visit to the physical store, as it allows for a more active, ‘hands-on’ experience; but they can be put off due to long wait times or not finding what they’re looking for. What is for sure, whether online or in-person, is that we all value the ease of access and smooth operations. An advanced retail analytics solution can enable just that, such as notifying management when areas are crowded.
Addressing this can both accelerate conversions and reduce labour costs by enabling better employee and facilities management, eliminating the risk of losing sales simply because of long queues and generally poor floor management. These solutions help managers take action without delay, and have proven benefits not only on a day-to-day basis but also in the long run.
Operations can be made more sustainable, and therefore profitable, such as with the use of heat maps, as the system can measure and display ‘hot’ areas – where shoppers dwell – compared to ‘cold’ areas – which receive little traffic throughout the day – allowing managers to measure the effectiveness of certain displays and promotions and make changes to address insufficiencies in the long run.
The unstoppable rise of e-commerce has truly changed the retail arena for good. Physical stores still have a place in people’s hearts, but in order to compete with their online counterparts more effort needs to be placed on efficiency and ‘ease-of-use’. To allow for the most enjoyable shopping experience, retailers must ensure their systems are used to their full capacity in order to optimise operations.
A security system doesn’t just have to be a loss prevention tool, but can be used to gather valuable data highlighting store trends and customer behaviour to increase revenue, enhance operations and, ultimately, stay in the game.
Evgenia Ostrovkaya, business development director of retail and banking at Genetec