Inside the mind of the customer

Johan Åkesson

With online and mobile shopping becoming ever more popular, brick and mortar stores find themselves under increasing pressure to attract and retain customers. Whether a customer will return is often down to the shopping experience he has had. Not finding the products they are looking for, having to wait to be served by a shop assistant, or having to queue for a long time at checkout can all leave a bad impression – and prompt a customer to shop at a different store next time.

Retailers are therefore investing in technology that helps them better understand the way their customers shop, from knowing the most popular route taken through a store, to finding out the least frequented areas and where people dwell the longest. By getting ‘inside the mind of the customer’, store managers can more easily adapt store layouts to meet shoppers’ needs.

Understanding customer behavior

IP network cameras have long been used to combat shoplifting, but they can also carry intelligent applications that retailers use to help understand their customers’ behavior. One example: cameras can monitor the amount of time shoppers spend in front of specific products or in specific aisles. This is known as ‘dwell time’ and can be displayed to store managers in the form of a heat map image. This is invaluable information in deciding whether a customer is intently reading packaging information or whether they are having difficulty locating a certain item, and it could be crucial in making a sale.

Intelligence gained from a heat map can also be used to decide where the most popular products should be placed to ensure easy customer access, as well as the best areas to display items that stores are keen to turn around in a hurry. Understanding the main paths customers take through a store via heat mapping can even prevent congestion in the aisles, which helps maximize sales and ultimately also improves the customer experience.

They hate the wait

When it comes to keeping down queue levels at the checkout, network cameras are sometimes integrated with queue management solutions which provide real-time data on queue length, waiting and total checkout times. With this information at their fingertips, store managers can adjust the number of open tills and staff levels depending on how busy it is.

Where network cameras are already installed, adding analytics applications is often the logical next step. Other stores may consider upgrading their existing CCTV systems to network cameras in order to be able to use these new business intelligence applications. Whichever stage you are at, with the numerous applications now available to retailers, using IP video surveillance to get inside the mind of the customer could be an essential tool in putting you ahead of the competition.

More about Axis’ solutions for retailers.