How Surveillance Cameras can Help Grow Retail Sales

If you own a retail business and utilize cameras only for security purposes, you’re missing out on their full potential to contribute to your company’s growth.

A number of technology companies are now using surveillance cameras — previously considered primarily as a way to deter or catch thieves — to help retail businesses learn about their customers’ shopping habits.

Video analytics, heat maps, and dynamic data can help companies perform A/B tests to see whether customers better respond to one campaign versus another. It allows retail firms to gather powerful data about customers without the need for surveys or other disruptive techniques.

How it works

MOBOTIX sells a security camera and analytics package that “can capture an entire room with no blind spots.”

The software captures the movement of people in the video image and then displays the results via heat map to allow business owners the areas that had the highest traffic. Companies will be able to see the most popular products or exhibition booths at a show, identify the most visited shelves in a store, or even show the patterns of how people enter or exit a particular location in the store.

This information can easily be presented in daily, weekly, or monthly reports for management.

Like MOBOTIX, other companies such as Prism and Prayas stress that video analysis is a better way to capture data without violating privacy rights of customers. An older method of gathering data had involved identifying and storing a unique identification code of a customer’s smartphone.

Instead, Prism CEO Steve Russell said his software doesn’t capture any identifying information about the customers; in fact, the video feed it presents back to businesses is completely void of humans. Instead the video analytics shows trends and the areas with the highest traffic.

Prayas Analytics, in the same vein, doesn’t include any facial recognition or personal identification functionality in its software to promote privacy.

Low cost to entry

The companies all try to make it easy for companies get started, all touting low costs to entry.

Prayas says that companies can keep their existing security system and only need to purchase access to the analytics software. Prayas can connect to the retail store’s surveillance cameras and get started immediately in analyzing its traffic patterns.

Prism also says its analytics software can overlay over existing video feed; they even say their high-quality imagery requires a low bandwidth of network in order to be successful.

Mobotix does require customers to purchase cameras. But the company argues that this can save money in the long run: Each camera includes its own high-speed computer with memory, preventing the need to have a computer or network server record, analyze, and store the information. All of the analysis power happens right in the camera, reducing the amount of network bandwidth the security system will need to use.