Analytics is trending hot for both video and data. The problem for many security video acquisition products is the old adage:  bad data in, results in bad data output. The acquisition device has to be able to deliver on the promise to the end user and perform in challenging environments. What products, with what capabilities, are changing the video analytics game today?

Imagine a customer entered your store and invested an hour of their time carefully choosing merchandise with a total value of $250. However, after waiting 15 minutes in the check-out line, frustrated and annoyed by the wait, they abandoned their cart leaving the store very unsatisfied. Unfortunately, retailers face these types of challenges with customer experience and conversion every day.

Measuring retail store success

Pressure from online shopping is making it even more critical for brick and mortar stores to maximise the revenue per visit from every shopper. Brick and mortar retailers spend millions in advertising to entice customers to visit their stores. Once a customer enters a store, the retailers’ number one goal is to provide the best shopping experience, resulting in high conversion rates, as well as high average sales per shopper.

Once a customer enters a store,
the retailers’ number one goal is
to provide the best shopping
experience, resulting in high
conversion rates

The conversion rate—how many people made a purchase vs. how many people entered the store—is how many retailers measure and compensate their store managers. They also use people counting data to measure the effectiveness of expensive advertising campaigns.  Achieving accurate data is critical for these and many other decisions that directly affect competitiveness and profitability. 

Many retailers are now measuring their stores’ performance on size of basket and complementary product sales. If you bought shoes, did you buy socks? If you bought a printer, did you buy extra cartridges, paper and office supplies? Did you purchase items at the checkout counter? Upsells and complementary purchases increase markedly as a result of good customer/employee experiences.

If wait times exceed a store’s policy, an alert can be sent real time to store management allowing them to react quickly by opening additional check-out lines
Queue time tracking is so accurate today that it can tell you precisely how long a specific person has waited in line

The rise of analytics

Human-based analytics probably started in the early 1700s when shopkeepers began installing bells on their entrance doors to hear (and count) customers entering and leaving their shop. Acquiring retail shopping data has been around a long, long time, and it is now becoming quite sophisticated.

Queue time tracking is so accurate today that it can tell you precisely how long a specific person has waited in line. If wait times exceed a store’s policy, an alert can be sent real time to store management allowing them to react quickly by opening additional check-out lines. Or, how does the customer service experience look now if after five minutes in line a mobile teller greets you and offers to check you out? Not only did the store achieve the sale but the customer service experience is one that assures a good customer rating and a likely returning, loyal customer.

Video acquisition devices

Transactional data is accurate because it’s tied to core operations of the retailer. Where the data gets fuzzy is in transforming a physical act, capturing it with a device, and turning that into data. So, the data is only as good as the acquisition device. The hard reality is that at a lower level of accuracy, the data means nothing and the reports are worth nothing.

Store managers and other analysts
can filter and mash-up people data
and POS data against a set of rules
to create and uncover never-before
available insights

In recent years, the barriers to successful data acquisition and analysis have been lowered. One such area is the innovation of video acquisition devices. Here, new technology has been developed that delivers unprecedented accuracy in tracking human figures in a store. The ubiquity of smart phones and WiFi makes new data collection increasingly possible. After the customer enters the store, they can be tracked—where did they go, for how long, where did they go first, at what point did they abandon the store, and of course what was purchased? Rapid advances in data acquisition technology like Time of Flight sensors are also improving the reliability of the data collected by these devices.

Now, store managers and other analysts can filter and mash-up people data and POS data against a set of rules to create and uncover never-before available insights as to how to achieve set goals, shining a light on previously dark data, resulting in greater sales and profitability.

In recent years, the barriers to successful data acquisition and analysis have been lowered
The brick and mortar retail world is moving toward acquiring the same data as for the online shopping experience

Best video analytics technology

What are these new innovative technologies designed to facilitate better acquisition of accurate, non-transactional data?

Three manufacturers innovating at the “Best” level of technology include:  RetailNext, Brickstream and 3xLOGIC:

RetailNext: The first technology platform to bring e-commerce style shopper analytics to brick-and-mortar stores, brands and malls, RetailNext is a pioneer in focusing entirely on optimising the shopper experience. RetailNext’s Traffic 2.0 platform goes beyond basic traffic counting by leveraging data from WiFi enabled smartphones, providing powerful insights such as visit duration, unique traffic, pass-by traffic, visit frequency, and entrance path analytics. Additional capabilities include:

  • True traffic measurement – Automatically excludes store staff from traffic and key KPI metrics. Isolates employee paths to create complete interaction analysis of shoppers and sales associates.

  • Optimise staff – Identifies traffic cycles across the day, week, or year. Aligns staff and customer-to-staff ratio to traffic power hours by integrating workforce management with traffic data.

Brickstream (now owned by FLIR): Brickstream’s line of 3D stereo vision sensors provides highly accurate, anonymous information about how people move into, around, and out of physical places. Using people counting and tracking metrics, retailers can identify and capitalise on opportunities to increase sales, grow margins, enhance customer experience and loyalty through improved service, optimise in-store marketing initiatives, and rapidly implement operational improvements at individual locations, regionally or across the entire chain.

3xLOGIC: 3xLOGIC’s Time of Flight (ToF) device is a special purpose, smart people tracker designed specifically for queue management and people counting. Combining 3D imaging technology with intelligent video analytics, this device uses a state-of-the-art infrared sensor and specially designed lenses to improve measurement accuracy when compared to the current generation of thermal and stereoscopic cameras. One of the most advanced systems available in the marketplace today, this device achieves excellent performance even in the most challenging lighting conditions or when one object is partially obscured by another. The device also supports Stationary Queue Measurement (no object movement is necessary for maintaining tracking).

The analytics boat is leaving the dock, never to return. The brick and mortar retail world has left behind manual reports and secret shoppers, and is moving toward acquiring the same data as for the online shopping experience. Where to begin? Reliable data acquisition devices. If your retail operation is not on board, you will be left behind, and that quite possibly will result in a fatal competitive blow.

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