Video Management Software is Supercharging Retail Sales
By Jeremy Scott, National Sales Manager, Milestone Systems
Most brick and mortars know that to generate sales they need to have dynamic in-store experiences bolstered by a strong e-commerce presence online. In-store sales tactics include an appealing store design, careful merchandise presentation, eye-catching visual displays, and of course, regular in-store promotions. Positive e-commerce experiences often mean showcasing best sellers upfront, optimizing pages for mobile, offering live chat, having a solid e-mail marketing campaign, and integrating the site with Instagram or Facebook, to name a few customer-centric strategies.
While these tactics are an essential part of retail success, there is a new factor powering sales in retail: video technology. Video management software (VMS) together with network cameras and analytics can offer so much more than pure security and theft prevention measures. Video technology is revolutionizing retail as we know it, leading to a better, safer in-store shopping experience, while boosting sales.
Traditionally, video technology was entirely the responsibility of a store’s security department since it was used strictly for loss prevention and security. Today, with the evolution of VMS and the introduction of video analytics and intelligent cameras that power the retail experience, other departments are using video footage. For example, marketing departments often use video footage for planning, merchandising, and more. From a budget perspective, stores are now able to offset the cost of video technology by spreading it among various cost centers. New video management technologies may very well power the future of sales in retail.
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Let’s explore some of the ways VMS is reshaping retail.
Retailers are using thermal mapping (or heat mapping) in their VMS to drive sales into the stratosphere. A heat map is a data visualization tool that shows colors in two dimensions, giving a visual cue to the viewer about how the various colors are clustered in a given space. By applying thermal maps to a store’s foot traffic, retailers can identify high-traffic areas where shoppers are congregating, as well as their dwell time. Using a feature in the VMS called object removal, stores are also able to identify products that are popular (and those that aren’t).
Image of a Store’s Heat Map Produced by the VMS Analyzing Network Cameras’ Footage
Heat mapping can help stores improve foot flows,optimize product placement, and enhance customer experiences. Stores can use these high-traffic hot spots to improve their merchandising and, for example,to display seasonal products such as sunscreen, hats, or inner tubes in the summer. Heat mapping is a great tool to ensure that the five Rs of merchandising are being followed:Display the right merchandise, at the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities, and at the right price.
With heat mapping, retailers can also track customer walking patterns to optimize movement throughout their premises. This is especially useful during pandemic and post-pandemic times where social distancing is still a requirement in some places. By visualizing a customer’s dwell time on certain products, a retailer can determine the most effective routes in and out of a store. If customers are constantly avoiding a particular area or if traffic is becoming congested, retailers can move merchandise to optimize pathways, all of which will improve customer satisfaction and lead to more sales.
Another way VMS is driving retail sales is through video analytics software that quickly and accurately analyzes live or recorded video coming from network cameras. Video analytics counts and displays the number of people in a given area—as well as detects the crowd’s density—among its many features.People counting can identify how many shoppers are entering and leaving a store as well as whether a store and/or its elevators have reached their occupancy limits, and then send an alert.
This information can, for example, help a store identify which days and hours are the most popular so it can staff accordingly. It can also help a store dynamically adjust staff on days that are more lightly staffed. For example, say that a supermarket manager is monitoring the check-out line. With people counting, he/she can see open lanes, active lanes, and active lanes in thirty minutes, a figure that readjusts itself in real-time based on the number of people who enter the store. People counting software is intelligent enough to distinguish families that shop together versus individual shoppers. With this information, store managers are able to dynamically change personnel placement in real-time.
With adequate numbers of staff on hand, check-out lines move quicker minimizing frustrated customers. The check-out line can be the most aggravating aspect of the shopping experience. In fact, research supports that customers are willing to completely switch stores based on their check-out line experience. People counting software together with self-check-out or contactless check-out, can help address some of these concerns and lead to better customer retention.
People counting also enables stores to easily calculate conversion rates (Conversion Rate = Number of Sales / Total Number of Visitors x 100) and figure out how many customers that entered the store actually purchased an item. Conversion data is crucial for stores to understand if they want to maximize their resources, whether it’s offering the right discount or sales campaign at the right time or making the most of their floor space by diversifying their goods.
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As retailers continue to inject video technology into their business model, the sales potential abounds. As is the case in all things relating to customer service, it’s vital to create positive experiences that provide value to shoppers the second they set foot in the door. Whether it’s best-selling products positioned to catch the consumer’s eye, a store’s optimized layout, or better check-out line management, video technology is revolutionizing the shopping experience and driving sales.