Retailers can get more use from video surveillance data, ultimately targeting profitability As the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, retail organisations have two primary concerns: making a profit on notoriously slim margins and shoring up potential areas of internal (employee) and external threats, including organised retail crime. According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer 2011, published by the Centre for Retail Research, total global shrink in 2011 cost retailers slightly more than $119 billion, an average of 1.45 percent of global retail sales. Dishonest employees were tied to $41.7 billion or 35 percent of shrinkage. Retail organisations know they must implement proactive loss prevention plans to thwart criminal activity coming from every angle. Recent news reports of vehicle smash-and-grabs – 4,000 pounds of steel plunging through store fronts – are the latest attempts at pilfering profit margins. Credit card data theft is another ongoing threat. More retailers are embracing IP video installations, including smaller business operations. According to IHS Technology, IP camera installations are growing at about 20 percent annually, with analogue remaining flat. When retailers or any business moves to IP video from analogue, a primary benefit is being able to use DVRs and NVRs to apply analytics to the video feeds. Give a gift of video analytics Retailers are using video analytics tied to point of sale and “exception” reporting that indicate processes such as fraudulent returns, employee theft of cash or purchases called "sweethearting". Other popular video analytic applications include heat mapping, object taken, moving into an area (crossed-line detection), loitering and dwell times. According to John Feeney, VSaaS project manager, Skynet Security Systems, Chicago, dealers and integrators can help retailers with video analytics if they focus on educating the end user about the technology and themselves about the user’s business operations. “Analytics enhances video and provides information to retail users,” Feeney says. “But dealers and integrators have to tell the user specifically how the analytics can help them. For instance, when you talk about motion, you want to take it to the next level, and explain about people movement and flow of traffic through the store. Retailers want to know how shoppers travel through the store so they can use that information to attract buyers and initiate more sales.” Dealers and integrators can help retailers with video analytics if they focus on educating the end user about the technology and themselves about the user’s business operations Feeney says a video analytics system takes content generated from video, makes sense of it and puts it to business use. “In the past when you dealt with security, you responded to an event that happened. To a certain extent that was great. But it’s passive. With video analytics, you can turn that completely around for the customer and give them information to make decisions that affect the profitability of the business.” He says dealers and integrators should bring the profit-generating message to the end user. And when the user understands it, both parties benefit. Where’s the best place to start? Feeney says it’s all about knowing the person’s business, the nuances of the vertical market and how analytics can benefit the bottom line. “You have to act like the owner, and put on their hat. The industry has to get away from the mentality that video is only about security. Before, it was all capture, capture, capture, with regards to images. But now that you’ve got the video, are you doing anything productive with it?” The short answer is that retailers can get more use from video surveillance data, ultimately targeting profitability. “Once dealers get their attention, it puts the installing company in a totally different service category.” Feeny lists these three tips for dealers looking to assist retailers with analytics: Know the nuances of the vertical market; Avoid reactive security models and focus on business intelligence; Understand what the user wants to accomplish.