From left: George Bentinck, Product Manager, Cisco Meraki and George Howard, IoT Business Architect, CDW.

NRF 2019: The Promise of Surveillance Data for Retail Operations

Surveillance infrastructure goes mostly unused, but it can potentially offer insights to brands that can help them improve operations in real time.

Surveillance cameras are in nearly every physical store, from the smallest bodega to the largest big-box retailer — and they’re always running, gathering info on the goings-on in brick-and-mortar locations around the clock.

But, are retailers using these tools to their fullest extent?

Likely not, according to George Bentinck, product manager at Cisco Meraki, who spoke at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show on Tuesday, Jan. 15, alongside George Howard, IoT Business Architect at CDW, in the session “Enhanced Video Surveillance Turns Sight into Insights.”

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Case in point: Users only watch 1 percent of their surveillance footage, said Bentinck, according to data gathered by Cisco Meraki.

“[Retailers] have paid a lot of money for this infrastructure, which really isn’t doing a lot for you most of the time,” Bentinck said. “What if we can take the data inside this video and quantify it in some way that makes it useful to your business?”

And, in fact, that 99 percent of unwatched video can potentially do a lot. Specifically, surveillance data can be used to tap insights into how retail stores operate and how they can create efficiencies.

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3 Ways Surveillance Data Can Enhance Retail Operations

While most of the futuristic identification capabilities we see on crime shows aren’t possible yet with even the most advanced camera systems, basic information gleaned from video, like where shoppers are located in a store, can help brands to extrapolate insights that can build efficiencies and solve problems.

“Knowing where people are, where they go, and doing that in real time can be applied to a whole host of business problems,” said Bentinck. For example, if a person or group of people appear to be waiting for something, the technology could give brands the capability to notify an associate who may otherwise remain unaware of the need.

But the possibilities don’t end there. CDW’s Howard offered three more ways that surveillance data can enhance retail operations:

1. Hindsight: This is typically what video already offers retail, the capability to catch the bad guy after he’s been in the store. But hindsight can also be put to use on understanding the current state of the store and what areas could use operational improvement.

2. Insight: By better understanding exactly what has happened and how operations are running within a location, insight can drive improvements. “With the proper tools and analytics … we can continue with insight, what’s going on today,” Howard noted.

3. Foresight: With the right tools and integration, surveillance data can also translate to predictive analysis that can help brands forecast how customers might react to changes and improvements, and find ways to carve out opportunity. “Where are they going? What are they looking for? What are they going to buy? What’s the potential?” asked Howard.

The most important element of these insights, however, is that they’re derived from tools that are already in the store, leveraging an otherwise largely unused infrastructure.

“All of these are available with the same tool, not a lot of other tools, not a huge infrastructure, but a simple tool,” said Howard.

Keep this page bookmarked for articles from the event. Follow us on Twitter at @BizTechMagazine, or the official conference Twitter account, @NRFBigShow, and join the conversation using the hashtag #NRF2019.

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Juliet Van Wagenen
Jan 15 2019

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