The rate of change in the retail industry is astonishing, as organizations strive to keep pace with omni-channel selling, personalization and demand for an enhanced in-store customer experience. Retail technologies are evolving at a similarly rapid pace, making it possible to do more than ever with the masses of business and customer data being collected every day.
There’s no doubt that retailers will increasingly turn to video technology to help support their strategic goals in 2017. Whether used as an auditing tool to see what’s happening in one or multiple locations, or as integrated analytics that can deliver valuable business intelligence, video is a unique source of data with uses that extend far beyond physical security.
With that in mind, here are four key video trends that many retailers will be focusing on this year as they take advantage of new video applications and/or expand access to video to new groups, such as operations and risk assessment, within their organization.
1. Cyber-securing video devices
The anticipated focus on cybersecurity definitely played out in 2016, with businesses spending an estimated $73.7 billion on cybersecurity software, hardware and services to protect customer data, as well as their own. Not surprisingly, cybersecurity will continue to command attention well beyond 2017 with spending expected to reach more than $100 billion by 2020.
Because networked video cameras and recorders are among the many Internet-connected devices that can be a potential point of entry for malware attacks, it’s important for retail organizations to understand how secure those devices are.
Ask your IT team or systems integrator to run a complete security scan on your video surveillance system to identify potential vulnerabilities, such as devices with weak or default passwords, or services that aren’t needed and should therefore be disabled. It’s also important to keep your video system updated with the latest software. Software and firmware releases often contain patches for security vulnerabilities, so failing to apply these updates can put your devices at risk.
You can also create your own security questionnaire or audit for your video surveillance manufacturer to complete. The audit will give you a better view of the security of your video products based on security scans or reviews you’ve done in-house. Several of our banking customers take this approach, and we expect to see more retail customers doing the same this year.
Keeping video surveillance infrastructure secure should be a joint effort that involves your systems integrator and manufacturer. In addition to staying up-to-date on best practices and implementing some of the suggestions above, ensure that you ask about the programs, tools and communications your manufacturer provides to help keep your products secure.
2. Leveraging the cloud
Similar to many industries, retailers are starting to move more of their applications into the cloud – some quite aggressively – to reduce IT costs, streamline application management and improve scalability.
When it comes to video, cloud-based solutions are a great option for retailers who want to take advantage of advanced analytics and data integration. Storing and analyzing video analytic and point-of-sale (POS) meta-data in the cloud, for example, can offer the same cost and management efficiencies as seen with other applications. Expect to see a proliferation of Video Software as a Service (VSaaS) and other cloud-based managed services offerings aimed at the retail market this year.
In terms of full-fledged video storage in the cloud, however, a few barriers still remain for many retailers – the primary one being bandwidth. Video, especially high-definition video, demands much more bandwidth than other data types and may not be readily available in all locations or may be cost-prohibitive.
Security and privacy have to be considered, too, as regulations and corporate policies can impose restrictions on the transport and storage of video footage. And the anticipated return on investment, of course, is always a consideration when evaluating any technology solution. Some cloud-based video solutions offer only a subset of the capabilities your organization already has or anticipates needing in the future, which could restrict what you can do with your video longer-term.
3. Integrating business data
While you may not be ready to open the equivalent of the Amazon Go grocery store just yet, 2017 is definitely the year to start leveraging your Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, POS transactions and other data along with video to improve profitability.
Integrating video with select business data opens up a wide range of capabilities that can have a dramatic and measurable impact on your organization’s bottom line. Many retailers now integrate their surveillance video with POS transaction data to help find fraudulent incidents earlier, investigate them faster and stop them sooner. Tommy Bahama, for example, reduced its loss prevention investigation times by more than 90%, after rolling out an intelligent video solution with advanced reporting capabilities.
Combining RFID technology with video is another trend that’s quickly gaining mindshare with retail organizations interested in driving further benefits from their investments. The integration enables retailers to quickly search events by date, time, brand, product type, serial number or Electronic Product Code. They can then access the associated video with a single click to see exactly when and how an item entered or left a location. Such a solution makes it easier for retail organizations to track and manage inventory accurately and improve loss prevention capabilities.
4. Video-enabled business intelligence
Imagine a report that can show you at-a-glance which stores in your region need to replenish their display shelves immediately. Or verifying in just minutes a day that all of your locations opened and closed on time. Or reviewing a chart that compares customer wait times across dozens of sites so you can easily spot outliers.
Retailers are doing all of this and more using video-enabled business intelligence software, which integrates surveillance video with analytics (such as people counting, queue length monitoring, dwell time monitoring, customer presence detection, heat mapping and others) and incorporates reporting tools that make all that data easy to understand and use.
This past year saw an increasing number of retailers leverage the power of video and analytics to help them improve customer service, optimize their workforce, identify areas where more training is needed, find operational efficiencies and more – all of which resulted in reduced costs, higher sales and better profitability. And most used the video surveillance system they had installed already for physical security to do it, creating further cost benefits across the organization.
There’s no question that video analytics will continue to dominate as a key video surveillance trend in 2017 and beyond, as confidence in their reliability and accuracy increases and the benefits are repeatedly proven.
However before you start testing analytics, ensure that your first step is a thorough proof-of-concept (PoC). A PoC is essential for a few reasons. First, it will force all stakeholders in your organization to think about exactly how they will use the resulting data or intelligence to achieve their objectives. It also allows your vendor provider to confirm that the analytics can deliver to those goals. Second, it ensures that all the technical details can be worked out in one location before you embark on a more sizeable rollout. And most importantly, a PoC lets you work hands-on with the data so you can verify that what your organization had originally envisioned is how you are actually using the information.
Now that you’ve heard our predictions for the retail industry, why not share your own? Do you agree or disagree with our forecasted technology trends? Would you add another key trend to the list? Share your thoughts below: