Lights, Camera, Action! Is The Retail Sector Ready For Its Close Up?

2017 was not a great year for the brick and mortar retail sector. In fact, it was the worst year on record, with almost 7 000 stores closing their doors in the US alone. Why? Consumers have more shopping options than ever before, and online buying – thanks to giants like Amazon – are taking their toll on high street retailers. Fortunately, however, technology is a double-edged sword. While shopping online may have sounded the death knell for some physical stores, savvy retailers are starting to catch on to the many advantages new technologies bring. This is particularly true when it comes to using smart cameras to improve business efficiency, boost employee productivity and enhance customers’ overall experience.

Many retailers already have security cameras in place. Originally installed to help prevent shoplifting and assist in the identification and apprehension of those brave enough to try anyway, cameras are now proving extremely useful in other ways too.

Increasingly, retail sector stores are using their security cameras to keep an eye on their employees. It may sound slightly Big Brother-ish, but when this surveillance is carried out openly, with the full knowledge of employees, it can offer up a host of benefits. Potential safety hazards, flaws in work processes, and even proof of sexual harassment can all be captured on camera and used to carry out remedial action. Employees are also less likely to take extended water cooler breaks if they know someone could be tracking how long they’re spending away from their desks.

But perhaps the most exciting development in the use of security cameras is around enhanced customer service. Facial recognition technology, previously used mostly to help with criminal investigations or unlocking smartphones, is increasingly being leveraged to provide unparalleled insights into consumers’ purchasing habits.

Face Facts – Why The Retail Sector Should Capture Their Customers On Camera

Facial recognition technology is no longer the exclusive domain of criminal investigation departments. It offers incredible benefits for the retail sector too. Picture this scenario: A regular customer of a high-end retail chain store enjoys special attention from the staff in that store. They know him – and his buying habits – extremely well. Because they know his preferences, they can make recommendations as soon as he enters the store, and show him new products, or extensions to existing ranges, that they know he’ll like.

But what happens if he’s on business in another city, and decides to pop into the local branch of his favourite shop? No one knows him there, he won’t get the service he’s come to expect, and the chances are he won’t end up buying anything. Or perhaps Frank, his trusted personal shopper at his regular branch, retires or goes on extended sick leave. Who will take over? Who else but Frank knows all his preferences?

This is where a facial recognition tool, linked to an existing security camera system, really comes into its own. It can identify individuals, highlight their purchasing habits, and help develop personalised experiences for them. The retail sector has one of the highest staff turnover rates of any industry, so using technology to provide personalised customer service negates the risk of a customer leaving when his favourite shop assistant does.

Cameras can also be used in conjunction with high-tech analytics applications. These look at such consumer behaviour as “dwell times” – how long customers spend in each department – and how they respond to promotional displays and general store layout. Knowing which displays are working well, and where your customers spend most of their time, is complete retail gold. It goes a long way to evening things out with online retailers, who have the benefit of being able to track and profile their customers’ habits through the use of cookies.

Benefits Of Smart Cameras For Retail Landlords

If all this technology – marvelous as it is – is making your wallet a little, well, camera shy, don’t sweat. Individual stores don’t have to spend money on cameras and facial recognition software themselves. This is a fantastic opportunity for retail sector landlords to invest in the tech – and reap the rewards.

How valuable would it be for high-end retail stores if the landlord of a shopping centre offered smart camera data as an added benefit on a lease agreement? Store owners are responsible for their own marketing, which can be expensive and not always hugely effective. But imagine if they could buy data pertaining specifically to their store’s customers? Knowing which days were popular with pensioners, and which with soccer Moms, for example, has incalculable value. Promotions can be tailored accordingly, regular big spenders can be treated like VIPs…the possibilities are endless. And by selling the data to his tenants, a landlord will quickly recover the purchase and installation costs of the surveillance system.

In short, it’s an all-round win for shoppers, store owners and retail sector landlords. So, if you want to know more about how you can tap into this tech, talk to us. At Strategic Asset Management Services, we help businesses protect their strategic assets, people and business data, and we’re the experts on video management systems and solutions. We’ll show you how to find the hidden cash in your cameras.

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