Better customer experience with video analytics

February 27, 2020
How can video analytics help enhance the shopping experience? Carl Stael von Holstein, Retail Business Development Manager for the Nordics, discusses the benefits of this emerging technology in retail.

A recent survey*, commissioned by Axis, looked at retail customer behaviour in three different countries. Some of the findings concluded that NYC shoppers tend to leave a store when the queue is too long, and that customers in Shanghai want great fitting rooms. What all customers had in common, regardless of their location, was a wish to get assistance when they need it.

Assisting customers

Meeting customer expectations, like always being available to assist in their purchase, can be demanding in a busy shop. With personnel on the floor helping the customers, tills can be left unmanned until it is brought to the staff’s attention that a customer is waiting to pay. We live in a society where customers expect more than ever. At the same time, shop personnel can’t be everywhere and see everything that is going on in the store. This is where video technology comes into play. By using video analytics, a retailer can provide a better customer experience by understanding the customers’ behaviour – and their needs.

Video analytics can help bridge that gap between retailer and customer.

“Video analytics can help bridge that gap between retailer and customer. When the queue to the till is too long or a customer enters the fitting room, a push out notification is sent out to staff via a wearable, walkie talkie, smart phone or an audio message in the personnel room,” says Carl.

The analytics can help enhance the customer experience by making shoppers feel noticed and important. For instance, if a customer lingers in a predefined section in the shop, an audio message will play welcoming them to the store and letting them know that staff is on its way to assist them. At the same time, a signal is sent to the personnel to let them know that they are needed.

“When a customer is struggling to make a decision and sales staff offer their assistance, the probability is that they end up making a purchase,” explains Carl.

“We have also seen that this leads to upsells. For example, if you’re about to buy a winter coat for £500, the shop assistant might suggest getting a matching hat for £50. In comparison to the £500 the customer is about to spend on the coat, a £50 price tag might not feel as daunting as it could have felt otherwise. This kind of upsell would not have happened if personnel had not been there to assist the customer.”

Many applications

Another application of video analytics, in terms of increasing the customer experience, is collecting crowd data. By counting customers during opening hours, the analytics can extract data on when the shop is at its busiest. For shoppers keen to avoid big crowds, this can provide useful information on when to plan their visit to the shop.

“Video analytics can also help evaluate the success of a campaign. Did it attract more customers? How did customers move throughout the shop? You can even gain insights on whether the weather that particular day made an impact on customer behaviour,” says Carl.

Online stores have a clear advantage over physical shops when it comes to gathering detailed information on their customers. When making a purchase online, you need to share your name, address, card details – and they also track your clicks.

“In a physical shop, you don’t really get any information about your customers. You might know that someone bought a pair of trousers at 3PM, but you don’t know who bought them or what else they were looking at in the store.

The customer experience in the physical shop becomes more alike the personalised online customer journey.

“With video analytics, we can provide this valuable information for retailers so they can better understand their customers. As a retailer, you can follow their journey throughout the shop. This information can provide you with insights on how to better display your offers so that your customers are exposed to the right items at the right time. It means that the customer experience in the physical shop becomes more alike the personalised online customer journey,” says Carl.

He adds:

“The data extracted is anonymised as the faces aren’t of importance – the customer behaviour is.”

In addition, the video analytics can help retailers evaluate how easily navigated their shop is. By detecting shoppers stopping by the window display and giving them an ID, cameras placed by the shop entrance and in the store can follow the customer’s journey. For example, if ‘customer A’ stopped by the window display to view a dress, did she find the right section and the dress immediately upon entering the shop? By analysing the customer journey in the shop, the retailer can easily see where improvements can be made to ensure customer satisfaction.

Preventing theft

Video analytics can help make a real impact on loss prevention. A large retail in the United States was struggling with organised theft when they decided to implement video analytics across their locations.

The retailer knew from experience that the risk of theft is connected to the time spent by a shelf. If someone lingers too long in a section with more expensive items, this could be a warning sign that she or he is about to commit theft. To address the problem, the retailer placed cameras with analytics and audio in their stores. If a person spent more than a minute at a predefined area, an automatic message would play welcoming the customer and notifying them that personnel was on its way to assist them. The combination of the automatic audio message shortly followed by staff coming to assist, turned out to be a success. The loss of stolen goods decreased by 80%.

“This can only be considered amazing return on investment,” says Carl.

He sees video analytics in retail as a continued approach to increase customer experience in the future.

“Retailers will use all kinds of technical and non-technical solutions to ensure staff is available to their customers to provide them with a great shopping experience. As the technology in this area advances, I’m certain even more retailers will use video analytics.”

*If you would like to learn more about customer behaviour, have a look at our retail consumer survey:
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For further information, please contact: Kristina Tullberg, Regional Communications Manager Northern Europe, Axis Communications
Phone: +46 708 90 18 72