A woman sits at a table in front of an open laptop. She looks at the laptop screen with her chin resting on her fist. In the background is a white-walled room with a rack of clothes along one wall and rows of bobbins of thread in every color mounted on the other wall. The woman has shoulder-length white-blonde hair and wears a green shirt and red-rimmed glasses.
In-store surveillance systems can give you insight into information like areas of interest, peak buying times, and customer preferences. — Getty Images/Ivan Pantic

Video surveillance has traditionally been employed for security and protection against theft. While in-store video cameras certainly still serve this purpose, modern businesses are now harnessing the power of video analytics in their overall business strategy.

“Advanced video analytics and AI can turn standard security cameras into powerful tools that give business owners insight into where their business is excelling as well as opportunities for operational improvement,” said Ken Francis, President of Eagle Eye Networks.

Here’s how video analytics and the technology it relies on are transforming the way businesses operate and interact with their customers.

What analytics can be pulled from surveillance footage?

Video analytics involves the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence to process surveillance footage in real-time or post-recording. By analyzing the video data, these systems can detect and recognize patterns, movements, and specific objects.

For businesses, this means gaining insights into customer foot traffic patterns, identifying peak business hours, understanding customer interactions with products and displays, and even assessing employee performance. Beyond this, advanced analytics can detect unusual behaviors or activities, providing security alerts or identifying potential areas of operational concern.

Francis noted that modern surveillance systems can pull the following standard video analytics:

  • People counting: Tracks how many people visited a location, peak business hours, and how often consumers passed a display.
  • Loitering: Detects when an individual or vehicle stays in one place too long.
  • Area-of-interest: Tracks when a person enters a specifically designated space.
  • Camera tampering: Detects if cameras are blocked, covered, or moved.
  • Line crossing: Detects when a person enters a restricted area.

[Read more: How to Improve Your Customer Churn Rate]

How video analytics can improve your business

According to Francis, video analytics helps businesses understand and, to some extent, predict customer behavior. When properly collected and applied, data from your business’s video surveillance system can enhance operations and help you improve your overall customer experience.

“Video analytics and AI helps small businesses gather data that will help them better understand their customers, and bridge the gap between strategy, actions, and results,” said Francis. “By identifying and responding to customer patterns, businesses can increase revenue and provide a better buying journey and enhanced customer experience.”

Here are just a few ways to leverage video analytics to make operational improvements to your business.

Gaining a better understanding of customer behavior

The analytics available through surveillance footage can paint a more complete picture of in-store customer behavior than sales data alone. For example, said Francis, a retail store can use analytics to analyze foot traffic in their stores, which helps identify the store’s busiest times, as well as buying patterns and customer product preferences.

“They can use this data to develop effective targeted marketing strategies to attract more customers, leading to greater profitability,” he added.

By identifying and responding to customer patterns, businesses can increase revenue and provide a better buying journey and enhanced customer experience.

Ken Francis, President of Eagle Eye Networks

Boosting conversions and the in-store experience

With a better understanding of your in-store activity through video footage, you can see where bottlenecks are occurring in the shopping process and work to alleviate them.

“AI-powered video analytics can send alerts to store managers when a checkout lane is long, allowing the manager to open a second checkout lane, reduce wait times, and improve the customer experience,” Francis said.

Analytics can also help assess employee-customer interactions, paving the way for enhanced staff training and boosting chances of sales.

[Read more: Nespresso Delves Into Data Tech to Find Out What Its Customers Want]

Optimizing internal operations

Internally, video analytics is a boon for optimizing operations. By identifying products or displays that garner maximum customer interest, retailers can make strategic decisions to relocate items or adjust pricing to enhance sales, Francis noted.

Aside from offering insights into inventory management and customer assistance, video analytics can help identify busy hours, help with training employees, and control labor costs during slower times.

“This information can lead to targeted training and performance improvement initiatives, ultimately boosting productivity,” Francis added.

Deterring fraud and theft

Francis emphasized the advantage of video analytics in loss prevention, since cameras can not only discourage theft but also provide video evidence should an incident occur. Additionally, integrating your video surveillance system with point-of-sale data provides a more comprehensive view of transactions.

“Any transaction can be examined along with the video tied to the event to quickly identify fraudulent transactions,” he said.

Improving workplace safety

With AI and analytics at play, businesses can proactively address potential hazards. Whether it's a spill that could result in a slip-and-fall incident, or employees and customers nearing hazardous areas, AI-driven alerts can ensure timely management intervention, said Francis.

Ultimately, said Francis, effectively managed and analyzed video data can help businesses make informed and strategic decisions: “Video analytics … empower businesses with critical data that helps business owners improve decision-making, understand customer behaviors, and better protect their assets.”

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