Guest Editorial by Wayne Arvidson, Quantum Corporation
Retail is undergoing a transformation. Technology disruption and changing customer demographics, shopping preferences and behaviors are driving retailers to adapt.
That’s not new – retail has been about serving the customer, and the successful retailers always have found innovative ways to do that. But what do surveillance and data storage have to do with innovation in retail today?
Safety and loss prevention are a good place to start. In-store video surveillance serves to protect shoppers, to prevent theft, and to help prosecute offenders if a crime is committed. Unfortunately, items are stolen, and theft costs retailers billions.
According to a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, inventory shrink cost the U.S. retail economy $45.2 billion in 2015, and over 48% of retailers who were surveyed reported an increase in inventory shrinkage.
To address this threat, retailers are installing more cameras and adopting high-resolution, multi-sensor units to improve image quality and viewing coverage. In fact, retail is the second highest ranking sector for adoption of high definition (HD) video camera technology, surpassed only by the commercial sector.
Retailers understand the value of surveillance data, and they are combining camera placement, high-res images, and advanced video management system (VMS) analytics to reduce theft through better object tracking, point of sale (POS) integration, and forensic searching capabilities. However, that’s only the beginning.
The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Shopper
Today, consumers are tech-savvy and mobile. They are comfortable with technology and accustomed to the convenience it provides. They want access and engagement everywhere they go—and customer engagement has never been more important than it is today, especially in retail.
As a result, embracing mobile is an imperative for retail organizations. To do that, retailers are developing mobile apps and expanding wireless networks in stores. According to RIS News, only 44% of retailers have shopper wireless networks in place today, but 28% plan to have the capability in place within the next 18 months.
That has benefits for both consumers and retailers. Once the infrastructure is in place, retailers can gather more in-store data about shoppers, track their movement within the store, and push notifications on special promotions and offers to their mobile devices while they browse through the merchandise.
According to RIS News, traffic count (65%), shrink (61%), and conversion rate (52%) are the top three in-store analytics KPIs tracked by retailers today. Two other KPIs not being tracked as well—yet still important to know—are time spent in the store (23%) and dwell time (10%).
With mobile capabilities in place, retailers can use mobile data along with video and other data sources to analyze shopper behavior and to improve marketing and operations.
Retailers can use these data sources to improve their understanding of their customers.
They can better track people coming into their stores, how long they stay, and the way they move while they are there.
Innovations in Video Analytics
Video is essential to this effort. With video analytics, retailers can develop heat maps of their stores, showing locations where customers spend the most time, and they can monitor dwell time to gauge the effectiveness of displays and product placement.
In addition, video helps retailers evaluate queue times for checkout counters so staff levels can be adjusted to accommodate peak periods.
Ultimately, video analytics allows retailers to “see” their customers and more clearly understand how they behave, enabling them to make better decisions about merchandising, store layout, and operations—all so they can delight their customers, lower costs, and increase sales.
What does any of this have to do with data storage? As stated earlier, retail is expanding the use of video in stores and adopting HD technology.
High-resolution cameras generate more data (approximately 10 GB per day for a 2 MP, 1080p unit), which is being retained longer to protect stores against litigation. Those factors alone are contributing to the growth in storage capacity.
In fact, the retail sector is projected to see a 39.1% CAGR (2014-2019) in storage capacity shipped for use by video surveillance applications, according to IHS.
While important for surveillance, data storage in retail is essential for other reasons. As mentioned, retailers are using technology to improve in-store customer experience, to lower costs, and to generate more sales.
They are doing that by collecting data from multiple sources throughout their stores: mobile devices, guest wireless, POS devices, RFID, and others, including video.
All of that data must be stored and analyzed, so retailers can make data-driven business decisions.
Doing that requires a storage infrastructure that is cost-effective and “smart.” One that allows data from disparate sources to be retained for long periods of time, managing the movement of the data between multiple tiers to minimize cost, while ensuring the files are easily accessible for analysis.
(Quantum Xcellis, a powerful and scalable system that simplifies storage architecture and streamlines operations, was recently honored with the 2016 ‘ASTORS’ Platinum Award, for Best Video Data Storage Solution. Xcellis enhances workflows, boosts efficiency, improves productivity, and enables business insight. Courtesy of Quantum Corp. and YouTube)
Increasingly, retailers need to become conversant in the technologies of surveillance and storage so they can fully tap their potential and remain competitive. With an intelligent storage infrastructure as the foundation, retailers can take advantage of the benefits that retail analytics have to offer and develop innovative ways to attract and to serve consumers.
About the Author:
Wayne Arvidson, Vice President, Intelligence, Surveillance & Security Solutions, Quantum Corporation
A seasoned global marketing, product management, and business development executive, Wayne has over 25 years senior management experience in companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 firms and drives Quantum’s strategy in the intelligence and security market.
He is an expert on best storage practices for video surveillance, and is helping to drive industry transformation by educating the market on the role storage can play as the foundation of a security infrastructure.
Wayne has been published in numerous industry publications and is a regular speaker at industry events. He also sits on the SIA Government Affairs Committee Working Group on Body-Worn Video Technology, which is charged with recommending best practices to the US Federal government.
Congratulations to Quantum Corporation on becoming a Winner of the American Security Today’s Homeland Security Awards Program!
National Retail Federation, “The 2016 National Retail Security Survey,” June 2016.
IHS, “Enterprise & IP Storage Used for Video Surveillance,” November 2015.
RIS News, “In-Store Firepower,” May/June 2016.