A new ECR report, authored by Professor Emeritus Adrian Beck of the University of Leicester, calls for retailers to leverage video analytics more strategically to control costs, improve operations and increase profitability. Commissioned by the ECR Retail Loss Group and supported by an independent research grant from Genetec, the report offers practical advice for retailers on extracting maximum value from their video surveillance systems.

‘Reviewing the use of video technologies in retail’ is drawn from in-depth interviews and site visits with representatives from 22 retailers based in the U.S. and Europe. These include some of the largest retailers in the world, with collective sales of over $1 trillion — equivalent to approximately 12 percent of the total U.S. and European retail market.

The report summarizes the ways in which video systems in general, and video analytics in particular, are being deployed across retail businesses, including their use by legal teams for health and safety compliance, and monitoring slip, trip and fall incidents. It also covers business intelligence applications, such as improving customer service through better staff response times and product availability; generating heat maps and customer dwell times; people counting and queue monitoring; delivery alerts; and improving pick accuracy. Given the need to extract value from across the organization, a key recommendation of the research is the appointment of a video ‘Tsar’ with overall responsibility for the strategic oversight of video systems deployed across the business.

“While video technologies have been used in some form or other in retailing for over 40 years, the research found few examples of retailers where its role, purpose and capability to contribute to business success was clearly articulated,” Beck said. “Video analytics is a technology with a broad-ranging and rapidly evolving capability, but what seems clear from this research is the need for explicit leadership, greater application across retail functions, improved integration of video technologies with existing systems and better alignment of video system design with organizational objectives.”

“With multiple, disconnected retail buying units and departments all voicing different data needs, technology providers have historically responded with siloed, custom solutions that add cost and effort, while reducing ROI and scalability,” said Rob Borsch, practice leader for banking and retail at Genetec. “But by taking a more holistic approach, driven by a centralized vision and direction, all stakeholders can become aware of available solution capabilities, like tailored dashboards for each department, to help drive better engagement and ROI — a key focus for retail moving forward.”