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Intelligent Video: The key to transforming the in-store shopping experience Submitted by Prama Hikvision India

The retail sector has felt the disruptive impact of e-commerce more than most. The inevitable costs

of staffing, rent, maintenance and daily operations has left traditional brick-and-mortar stores

struggling to stay dynamic and compete effectively with their more agile online counterparts.


Not only that, but the one competitive advantage of physical retail outlets – being able to provide a

more personal customer experience – has also taken a hit in recent years, thanks to a lack of in-store

and operational efficiency. Customers find it hard to locate the products they're shopping for, are

faced with longer queues for payment, and the most valuable 'VIP' customers are often overlooked.

At a time when retailers should be striving to excel, this is bad news, as a 2018 study from KPMG



“The customer experience is more important than ever as retailers are striving to differentiate

themselves in a challenging and crowded market. Consequently, experience per square foot will be

the new retail metric to measure success.”


The question, therefore, is how can stores optimise operations and improve the customer

experience at this critical time?


Technology: at the heart of a better customer experience

One challenge that retailers often face is not having a way to collect accurate data and visualise it

intelligently in order to make smarter business decisions about the shop floor. For many,

reorganising store layout and installing additional equipment is not a realistic option – either

because there is not the available space, or because of budgetary constraints.


In these circumstances, an effective solution could be artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning.

Together, these cutting-edge technologies create a video surveillance offering that can give retailers

valuable insight into real-time operating conditions, to boost customer service and in-store

competitive advantage.


Intelligent video technologies can be applied to retail in a multitude of ways. This includes:

• People-counting, to track customer flow and numbers

• VIP recognition, so retailers can tailor service to key individuals

• Heat mapping, to reveal the popularity of specific goods in the store

• Queue detection, to monitor the queuing situation in real-time

• Point of Sale (POS) integration, to retrieve precisely when dispute occurs


Below, we explore each of these technologies in more detail.


People Counting

Understanding the flow of customers is the key to optimising a store's sales performance. And by

using an accurate people-counting camera, stores can understand daily/weekly/monthly peak times,

so that store managers can arrange staffing accordingly. What's more, by layering this data over

days, weeks and months, retailers can start to see customer flow trends. The data can be

benchmarked against the store's sales figures and its overheads, to inform future operational

strategy, and help managers to optimise store profitability.


Furthermore, people counting can also help retail managers gain insights into the customer

experience. One example would be to evaluate the conversion rate, which depends on the actual

number of purchases divided by the number of people entering the store. Retailers can calculate this

rate easily using people counting technology. Even better, people counting can also help stores

determine the results of their marketing activities. Each marketing campaign can be quantified by

people counting to measure return on investment. This is just one of several technologies that

provide insight into consumer behaviour and optimal marketing practices.


VIP Recognition

Loyal high-end or VIP customers are enormously valuable to retailers, but service staff cannot always

identify them immediately. This means that business operators miss valuable opportunities to

extend a special service.


Intelligent facial recognition cameras, however, can provide unique opportunities that were

previously unavailable. When customers opt to participate in VIP marketing promotions or other

incentives, facial recognition technology will give retailers accurate tools to identify VIPs so staff can

provide the right kind of service at the right time. There would be no more need for customers to

show membership cards to receive special offers, for example. The whole shopping experience

becomes more convenient and efficient.


Heat Mapping

Retailers usually want to know which products customers are most interested in, and which

promotional products can attract customers to stop. With heat-mapping technology, retailers can

see a colour-coded map of how much time shoppers spend in specific store areas. This can reveal

hot spots and dead zones, as well as how many people actually shop for a specific product, versus

those who just decide to pick it up as they casually walk by.


By layering this data over time, retailers can get insight into how to best place items in store, and

how best to design the overall store layout.


One of the most useful heat-mapping tools available to the retail market is the fisheye camera. A

single, compact camera can capture a panoramic high-definition image over an impressively wide

area, while its heat-mapping function provides the colour-coded map. Because fewer cameras are

needed than with most heat-mapping solutions, installation is cost-effective, making this the ideal

solution for a location such as an independent shopping mall.


Queue Detection

Waiting time can have a devastating effect on the in-store customer experience. If a customer sees a

long queue in a store, they may stop shopping and go elsewhere. Worse still, if there is always a long

queue every time they visit the store, they may avoid that store completely in future.

Queue detection solutions can help retailers manage their checkout lines, and the queue detection

cameras are designed to monitor queues in real-time. The cameras count the number of people in

each queue, and if there are too many people in each checkout line and customers still continue to

flock to the checkout area it triggers an alarm to store management, who can open a new checkout.


Point of Sale integration

Transaction records and surveillance videos can provide valuable information to reduce disputes at

checkout. In the past, these are two completely independent data systems. In order to find the right

video footage, the surveillance video must be retrieved manually. Therefore, collecting evidence

around a transaction normally can take several hours, which is costly for the business.

Point of Sale (POS) integration, also known as POS Text Overlay, is uploading of transaction data to

the video management system through the POS and encoding it with the video stream. This

combination of retail transaction data with surveillance videos makes it easy to identify certain

transactions to be reviewed for customer complaints, mainly used for post-retrieval when a

transaction disputes occurs.


Intelligent video: transforming the in-store shopping experience

The intelligent, self-learning video solutions outlined above are designed to empower retailers with

much of the insight they need to bring brick-and-mortar stores right up to date. Those that are

willing to adopt these solutions will very rapidly see their value, and be able to reap the rewards of

increased competitive edge.


Through accurate people-counting, quick identification of VIPs, optimal layout of goods and reduced

waiting times, retailers can transform the shopping experience and enhance their sales strategy very

quickly indeed. And thanks to the valuable customer insight that is generated on an ongoing basis,

they will have the tools to create an in-store shopping experience that should only get better and



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🔀MARCH 2019