Magazine Article | August 21, 2006

Use IP-Based Video Surveillance For More Than LP

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Networked video surveillance can provide information for retailers in departments such as merchandising, customer service, and store operations.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, September 2006

While LP management executives have been justifiably excited over emerging IP-based video surveillance systems, executives in operations, customer service, merchandising, and safety have much to cheer about, as well. Internet-based IP systems are the latest generation of video systems, enabling companies to use COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] hardware and the store network to reduce up-front and maintenance costs, boost functionality and reliability, and increase the number of individuals who can access pertinent information via LANs or the Internet.

Until now, LP departments have used analog cameras and computers to watch for store shrink, recording the output onto VCRs and DVRs [digital video recorders]. Besides the high costs of proprietary equipment and the difficulty in sorting through countless hours of video, those in other retail departments rarely had access to information captured by video.

Enter IP-based intelligent video surveillance. Now, instead of the video just being stored on a proprietary and solitary box, all events within the store are transformed into data and stored on a commercially available network server in industry-standard databases. Much like other store data, which is accessible over the store network, multiple employees from different departments are able to query that video-turned-data and get precisely the information they need.

For example, consider a large retail chain with approximately 1,500 locations. In a typical day, it records more than 50 years of video throughout all of its stores – an incredibly rich source of information about what happens inside the stores – but one that is vastly underutilized. With IP-based video surveillance, multiple users can query specific, relevant information contained in a central database, using a simple graphical interface.

IP Enables Integration Of LP, Other Store Data
Tremendous value can be extracted from video since the user base of the store’s video infrastructure expands dramatically to include employees in security and LP, store operations, merchandising, safety, and customer service. By sharing database information over networks, multiple departments in various locations can use this information, and the applications are almost limitless. Decision-making capabilities become much more fact-based because the real-time metrics are available across the retail enterprise.

Consider the possibilities. Capturing data from all floor activities enables:

  • Real-time theft alerts. LP can stop thieves before they can remove merchandise from the store.
  • Alarm verification. Security can determine in real time what set off an alarm.
  • Customer service. A store associate can be alerted when a customer stands in front of a plasma TV for more than a few minutes.
  • Conversion rate analysis. Operations can determine how many of the people entering each of the stores ultimately made a purchase.
  • Merchandising effectiveness. Merchandising can determine the effectiveness of a promotion by analyzing in-store customer traffic patterns.

The effect of IP video is that retailers will no longer need to be concerned with watching actual video, but rather what the video means. They can now pinpoint useful information that is contained within the video. With an IP-based system, retailers can integrate in-store systems like never before. This is exciting news that executives in operations, customer service, merchandising, and safety want to hear.