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Academic-led report calls for retailers to adopt more strategic use of video analytics

ECR Retail Loss Group reports retailers should rethink their near $2B annual spend on video as an integrated business tool rather than just a security blanket


July 30, 2020
By SP&T Staff

A new ECR report, authored by Professor Emeritus Adrian Beck of the University of Leicester, calls for retailers to leverage video analytics more strategically, to control costs, improve operations and increase profitability.

Commissioned by the ECR Retail Loss Group and supported by an independent research grant from Genetec Inc, a technology provider of unified security, public safety, operations, and business intelligence solutions, the report offers practical advice for retailers on extracting maximum value from their video surveillance systems.

The report, ‘Reviewing the use of video technologies in retail’ is drawn from in-depth interviews and site visits with representatives from 22 retailers based in the US and Europe. These include some of the largest retailers in the world, with collective sales of over $1 trillion – equivalent to approximately 12 per cent of the total US and European retail market.

The report summarizes the ways in which video systems in general, and video analytics in particular, are being deployed across retail businesses, including their use by legal teams for health and safety compliance, and monitoring slip, trip, and fall incidents. It also covers business intelligence applications – such as improving customer service through better staff response times and product availability; generating heat maps and customer dwell times; people counting and queue monitoring; delivery alerts; and improving pick accuracy.

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Given the need to extract value from across the organization, a key recommendation of the research is the appointment of a video ‘Tsar’ with overall responsibility for the strategic oversight of video systems deployed across the business.

Adrian Beck, Professor Emeritus at the University of Leicester and author of the report commented: “While video technologies have been used in some form or other in retailing for over 40 years, the research found few examples of retailers where its role, purpose, and capability to contribute to business success was clearly articulated. Video analytics is a technology with a broad-ranging and rapidly evolving capability, but what seems clear from this research is the need for explicit leadership, greater application across retail functions, improved integration of video technologies with existing systems, and better alignment of video system design with organizational objectives.”