Smarter Video Solutions for Retail

14.03.2024 - Multi-branch retailers are gaining multiple benefits from advanced integrated video management solutions (VMSs) that are easily repeatable. These include better security, reduced losses and valuable business intelligence on customer behaviour, seasonal trends and staff performance. One Idis client has a single IT manager for 50 stores, delegating day-to-day security functions to the branches.

Repeatability – developing a successful offering then replicating the model at new branches – is critical to retail chains. They must keep operations manageable as they grow, maintaining control, and keeping costs down.

Increasingly, video surveillance technology plays its part. Camera systems no longer simply detect theft and reduce losses. They now boost profits and enable better strategic decision making by improving remote management oversight and delivering business intelligence. This stems from advances in AI and easier integration with retailers’ ERP/POS systems.

Vendors and systems integrators are working with retailers to deliver VMS solutions that are sustainable long term, and that will help them to compete in changing circumstances, says Jamie Barnfield, Senior Sales Director at Idis Europe.

AI-enhanced camera systems that can be replicated store-by-store have become affordable over the past year. Retailers benefit from better security and reduced losses and making it easier to add and manage new branches. They also get valuable business intelligence around footfall, customer behaviour, seasonal trends and staff performance.

And they support flexible management styles too, facilitating the monitoring and maintenance of uniform processes throughout dispersed branch networks, while supporting a degree of autonomy and decision-making at local branch level.

Cut Losses and Reduce Risks for Small Shops

The rise of affordable, intuitive and accurate AI-enabled video analytics has led to their installation, not just in multi-floor department stores, but in shops as small as 50 to 100sqm. Previously these retailers could only justify a new system based on how quickly it would cut shrinkage and ‘pay for itself’.

Until recently, mid-range retail businesses relied on manual, time-consuming methods for branch-by-branch people counting, or door sensors that were cheap but a blunt tool for data-capture. Store owners needed multiple software applications and specialist IT services to analyse sales, footfall and related metrics and view video footage alongside point of sale data – and that came at a cost.

Now, video analytics deliver more accurate and useful data, allowing retail management to focus on other critical areas such as staffing levels, customer service, staff training, store location, promotional activity and stock handling.

Supported by at-a-glance dashboards and targeted reporting, they can identify areas that are performing best and build on them.

One of the key enablers for these new solutions is easier and more affordable integration of video data with retailers’ ERP software – those systems which underpin the management of the business, including inventory management, purchasing and supplier management, POS, payments and order processing.

Turnkey Solutions Deployed Easily

Separate software from different vendors is no longer necessary to operate video, analytics for people counting and queue monitoring, ERP software and the integration itself.

This simplifies VMS deployment and avoids compatibility issues, reducing costs and removing complexity. Retailers can now buy a single off-the-shelf all-in-one VMS solution with cameras and all the key analytics they need linked seamlessly with their ERP software.

The result is click-and-connect functionality that can be replicated across multiple outlets, particularly where those outlets share a common layout. The retailer benefits from VMSs that are easy to install, maintain and use, and that allow centralised monitoring with delegation of responsibility to local managers for certain functions.

This empowers in-store staff to boost sales by adjusting store layouts and promotions based on data; supporting more flexible and responsive local management rather than adherence to promotions pushed down from distant head offices.

In addition, overlaying video with POS transaction data allows managers to investigate suspicious check-out activity to detect fraudulent activity by staff or customers, using something as simple as a VGA/HDMI encoder. It’s a neat and powerful piece of kit that avoids tech clutter at check-outs and cash desks, and once experienced becomes a must-have.

Simple time synchronisation of cameras across stores also enables managers to quickly identify suspicious activity such as sweethearting.

Mobile video surveillance apps allow managers and operations teams to work more flexibly, from home, office, retail outlets or on the go. They even allow footage playback in the same high definition that operators and managers get in control rooms with live streaming on remote mobile devices enabled – high image quality in H.264/MJPEG and H.265 formats, and in most environments without any noticeable latency.

Reduce Workloads: Focus on the Job

Notifications generated by edge AI make it easy to investigate incidents or suspicious behaviour. More efficient investigations allow fraudulent activity to be spotted sooner. Better fraud spotting not only reduces losses but also builds a positive culture throughout the business, confirming crime will be detected and prosecuted.

Modern VMSs make it easy for local managers to retrieve video evidence for police in support of investigations, reducing workloads for central loss prevention. One retailer using Idis solutions has a single IT manager covering almost 50 stores. They have delegated day-to-day security functions to the branches, leaving more senior time for analysis and comparing performance by store.

Some VMS options sufficient for many of these applications are available free. They allow recording in store with central monitoring and include the essential functions these applications need: easy camera management, trouble-free integration, a simple dashboard and powerful reporting tools. It’s also easy to upgrade to an enterprise VMS with the same user interface, should the business needs change.


IDIS Europe Limited

Great West Road 1000
TW89HH Brentford

+ 44 20 36575678