The role of IP audio and video analytics in modern retail

Graham Swallow

As another UK and Irish lock down slowly comes to a conclusion with an impressive vaccine roll-out ably assisted by retailers and the brilliant work by key workers to reduce the threat of Covid-19, the government have given us a glimpse of when and under what restrictions, non-essential brick and mortar retail may open and confirm general speculation as to how that will unfold. Boardrooms must be discussing what sort of retail environment is likely to build customer confidence. The allure of fabulous window displays, and fresh exciting displays will go some way, but it may not be enough to entice the returning customer if their confidence for personal safety does not meet expectation. At a time when retailers are mired in the additional trading measures that COVID-19 impose, advancements in video and audio technology can play a significant role in helping both operations and security teams. Through employing such measures, retail teams can benefit from more effective and consistent personal safety management in stores, freeing up staff to better serve customers and producing data that serves to prove intention v’s output.

Smart occupancy and personal distance management

Network surveillance cameras and sensors, combined with analytics on the edge, at entrance and exit points or at zones can be used to record the number of customers at any one time. With retailers under pressure to set an occupancy threshold which is relevant to the size and layout of their stores, managers can receive live data to ensure that the optimum figure remains consistent and safe and react accordingly. Data about occupancy can be collated from store to store and used not only to provide forensic evidence that social distancing guidelines have been followed but also supporting conversion performance and shoppers’ habits.

Network audio speakers, managed from a central network point (Local or remote) are capable of broadcasting to single or multiple zones, and can also then be added to a network video system as part of a broader communication strategy. Personalised pre-recorded messages keep it local, deliver a consistent message to build customer and staff confidence and free up your team to do other tasks for the customer. Communicating with queuing customer outside when the store threshold has been reached helps to keep everyone informed about the rules for your store and so reduce stress. Video analytics on the camera edge identify customer bottlenecks and queues and can directly trigger a pre-recorded reminder to remain distant and wear that all-important face mask. For those with visual impairment, or where English is not a first language, IP audio can also be helpful as part of a wider range of measures to improve situational awareness. Such measures raise awareness through another sense and can help to improve the retail experience, boost customer confidence and improve deterrent to those intent on disruptive behaviour. You can’t always rely on people to do the right thing when no one is watching.

Helping to secure the future of retail

It is anticipated that occupancy monitoring and distancing will be a long-term factor in retail space and technology can play an important role in supporting the retail industry with this for the foreseeable future. Investment in technology for these needs today will build a strong foundation to maintain customer enjoyment and loyalty with added efficiency benefits. With intelligent, connected video systems in place, supported by the latest IP audio solutions, it’s easy to manage store music and product promotions from the business centre in a timely and cost effective but also consistent and visual way.

Shopping centres and high street stores still sit at the heart of every community. Enabling retail businesses to remain open and operate efficiently are critical steps on the road to rebuilding the economy, the community spirit and will support millions of jobs.

Read more blog posts by Graham Swallow