Published: Jun 27, 2022
powering stores of the future with smart video analytics
Back to the Future with Smart Retail.
The pandemic has set in motion a rethink of our relationship with physical spaces, from factories to retail spaces, during the lockdowns of 2020, most of these physical spaces, and supposedly "essential" real estate were left largely vacant. Retail shops and the wave of closures across cities worldwide could almost serve as the poster child for the impact of the pandemic–even Microsoft’s physical stores were shut down around the US. Yet business seemed to continue as usual. Brands and retailers which had a dominant position online, and those who were able to pivot to digital-first touchpoints, even fared better.
But as the world reopens, will ecommerce continue to hold Its sway over consumers? Or will shoppers be back to business as usual at physical stores? The future might actually be more of the same but different.
Back to the future: transforming retail with smart retail spaces.
Foot traffic is a key factor of any successful retail store. And increasing customer traffic to physical stores is a constant challenge. Once in, retailers need to have accurate counts of customer foot traffic at any given moment, and a keen understanding of customers' in-store experience–all valuable data points that many stores are still missing. What’s next?
To plug the gaps in visibility and efficiency, industry leaders and innovators are turning to video analytics and any existing investments in IoT they may have to deliver what can be known as "Smart Retail". The advantages of smart retail applications are extensive, including in-store customer shopping experience, smarter retail check-out management and layout optimisation, prevent shrinkage / loss prevention, augment demand forecasting and inventory management strategies using in-store demographic data.
"Effective aisle management can make or break sales. With insights into aisles that are popular, the customer dwell times in each of them, and demographics of the customers captured through video analytics, you can adopt a proactive and agile approach to merchandising," he added.
The ability to now accurately analyse and engineer foot traffic allows store owners to ensure their business operations are as efficient as possible, allowing for easier decision making and improved sales numbers. By optimising their merchandising, they naturally optimise shelf-space, and are better positioned to offer promotions–sometimes in real time–combined with loyalty programs that are tailored to shoppers which their video analytics systems "recognise" to design more personalised, rewarding, and engaging shopping experiences.
It’s no surprise then, that global apparel brands such as H&M for are making fast moves into the smart retail space, turning to AI for more informed inventory management, agile merchandising, and stocking popular items based on insights from purchases and store receipts.