The smarter future of autonomous retail

While the foundation of autonomous retail has been built up over the past few years, it is only now that retailers are beginning to fully experiment with the technology. Indeed, a small number of businesses have already forged ahead, including Amazon with the expansion of its Amazon Go chain and related app now seeing a rollout across US and UK. This acceleration in the growth of unmanned retail stores has, in part, been boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic and a demand for a more contactless, socially-distanced shopping experience.

Many retailers are now exploring such solutions as a way to streamline their services and simplify store operations while reducing overheads. Of course, the security of unmanned sites is a concern, with many retailers eager to embrace such a design, but wary about the prospect of leaving a store unguarded. This is where physical security technologies can play a significant role in protecting a site while supporting operation.

A digital solution to optimise security, improve service and boost profits

A flexible, comprehensive solution which improves security and access at its stores helps to make the autonomous retail vision a reality. Network cameras can be employed to monitor entrance points and sales areas, including checkout terminals. These cameras are monitored and operated remotely from a central control room, offering management full visibility of operations, regardless of the number of stores. Recorded video material can be processed and passed to authorities when necessary, in accordance with applicable laws.

Access control mechanisms at entrance and exit points enable smooth, touch-free access to customers, while IP audio speakers can enable ambient music to create a relaxed in-store atmosphere, while also offering the ability to play alerts or voice messages as required. As autonomous stores do not require staff to be present and can be accessible 24/7, this serves to improve customer experience and loyalty, and ultimately increases sales. In fact, utilising data from the access control system, management can configure lights to turn on/off and ambient music to power-down when the last person leaves the shop, to be reactivated the next time someone enters the premises. This approach can conserve energy, leading to cost savings.

Designing a future-proof retail solution

In-store physical security technology should be reliable and of a high quality, without compromising customer experience. Axis’ own solutions in this field, which have now been successfully rolled out across a chain of independent confectionery stores in Europe, comprising AXIS A1001 door controls, AXIS P3245-V network cameras, and AXIS C1004-E loudspeakers, together with a cloud-based video management system (VMS), Milestone XProtect Professional+, from Milestone Systems.

At access points a solution from Entryfy has been incorporated to check for positive authentication, scanning a QR code using a mobile phone and identifying customers via mobile BankID. The threat of vandalism is greatly limited if everyone entering the shop can be identified in advance, meaning that only those who want to legitimately use the services will go through the identification process. Through adherence to open standards, Axis’ solutions allow third-party devices and software to be added as required, meaning that the system is easily scalable to meet ongoing business requirements, without being limited by the technology or being tied-in to any particular set-up or vendor.

As more businesses launch their own unmanned stores, the benefits of such technology to streamline and improve every aspect of their operations becomes ever more clear. A comprehensive solution from a trusted security provider can bring complete peace of mind while offering additional benefits to support the retail business as it emerges from lockdown measures and seeks a secure future.

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