Many retail businesses worldwide are trying to cope with the devastating impact brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. It made them rethink the way they conduct their operations. One vital aspect of the business involved video surveillance. Security is paramount for every business and the use of IP video surveillance not only offered the convenience of omnipresent security, but it also provided an avenue for analyzing customer behaviour.
Before the pandemic happened, around 90 percent of shopping occurred in stores while the remaining 10 percent went to online sales, according to the National Retail Federation in the United States.
COVID-19 dramatically changed the retail landscape. In just a few months, online orders for pick-up went as high as 208 percent compared to the same time last year as reported by Adobe Analytics. As stores began to re-open their doors to customers, video monitoring and analytics became even more important in helping businesses operate safely during the pandemic.
Video Management Solutions (VMS) help retailers enforce new rules for shopping using their existing security infrastructure. VMS can assist with providing a safe environment for employees and customers by monitoring social distancing measures and even route compliance within the store. Businesses can use VMS to collect actionable data to maintain safety as well as enhance the customer experience.
Machine learning can augment video surveillance data by tracking the number of customers in store and notifying the management when pre-determined capacities are reached to avoid situations of overcrowding.
VMS can also help with automating crowd management where a “one in, one out” policy is needed to control access. This system removes the need to have employees at the entrance to facilitate the flow of people thereby reducing the risk of exposure for both employees and customers.
Prescribed safety areas can be designated throughout the store to enforce social distancing and VMS can monitor for compliance. An alarm can be set to immediately notify staff when people are too close to each other and remind them to keep a safe distance.
Another practical application of VMS would be in queuing management. Video analysis can track how long shoppers wait in line and alert management if there is a delay. This can prompt them to deploy more cashiers. This reduces bottlenecks in the operations and improves the buying experience for shoppers.
If a shop has areas that may be too constricted for customer flow due to limited space, managers can implement one-way routes to decongest areas. VMS can monitor and track the behaviour of shoppers and identify if they are complying with the routes that have been set to improve traffic.
VMS has long been a boon for businesses in enhancing their security, but the pandemic has expanded functionality and purpose in keeping workspaces safe for staff and commercial areas for shoppers. From people counting to access control, businesses can re-open their stores thoughtfully while maintaining new rules for shopping during the pandemic.