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From routine surveillance to transformational service quality: Why retailers are embracing the next generation of integrated CCTV

For many years, retailers' CCTV systems and IT infrastructure have operated in relative isolation, competing for space and resources whilst never utilising the full potential of their combined power. The good news is that next-generation IT infrastructure is increasingly bridging this gap, in order to reduce costs, simplify infrastructure, and allow retailers to access a range of actionable data streams through AI and analytics.

In today's increasingly interconnected world, CCTV cameras can become an extension of IT infrastructure - networked components that can be easily deployed wirelessly, like any other networked device. These "Smart" cameras bring simplicity and intelligence to the world of physical surveillance, utilising powerful processing capabilities and an innovative architecture that minimises both physical infrastructure and software requirements. With such systems in place, retailers can not only maintain shoppers' physical safety and security, but also open up new streams of advanced business intelligence.

The rise of Smart cameras and a new kind of business intelligence

The deployment of Smart cameras as part of the wider IT infrastructure delivers full visibility and availability status without requiring staff to inspect individual cameras. This alone is a significant time and money-saver and improves the reliability and availability of surveillance systems. Maintenance costs are also significantly lowered, as software and configuration updates become available remotely, while adding additional cameras to cover blind spots becomes an easy task, with no additional infrastructure required. In the long-term, this sort of plug-and-play infrastructure makes the cost of expansion cheaper and more predictable.

Crucially, access to video footage becomes near effortless, in contrast to legacy CCTV, which often requires stakeholders to leverage a team or contact a store manager (potentially on their busiest day!) to pull the video for them before it can be analysed. In the world of integrated CCTV, this can be accomplished from anywhere, whenever needed, by any authorised individuals.

These are just some of the benefits of networked CCTV deployment, but the business case really comes to life when you consider how Smart cameras can drive real, actionable business intelligence, exceptional value, and enhanced customer experiences.

Let's consider how…

Tailored digital marketing, based on accurate customer personas

Online retailers have been tailoring their marketing around customer data for many years now and continue to refine the process of gathering and acting on the information they need to create customer communications that generate new business. So, how can 'brick and mortar' retailers learn from their online counterparts and utilise these same principles?

First of all, it's important to remember that no two customers are the same. Every aspect of someone's life influences their buying habits in both subtle and profound ways. For example, a young professional entering a high-street coffee shop to purchase their daily coffee on the way to the office will exhibit very different customer behaviour to a grandparent bringing their grandchildren for a treat on a Saturday. It follows that the marketing messages that resonate with each customer will be very different. So, how do we capture that information without it becoming a drain on time and resources?

With Smart cameras in place, the entire processes can be automated by running the data streams generated each day through cutting-edge AI to automatically generate accurate customer personas. These can then be used to optimise the wider digital marketing strategy, enabling a truly bespoke approach to every customer communication, where customers only receive the news, product information, and special offers that will inspire repeat visits.

Take the stress out of theft reduction and focus on customer satisfaction

Sadly, theft remains an ongoing concern for retailers, and was up by nearly 20% in 2020 compared to 2019, but Smart cameras are playing an increasingly key role in maintaining the security of stock. Advanced behaviour detection can be incorporated into CCTV systems, supporting by artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools to identify patterns of criminal behaviour and send automated notifications to the appropriate member of staff. This can be extended to the point of sale, cross-referencing the data generated by CCTV against ERP / POS systems to automatically flag any suspect transactions. This will massively streamline security procedures, allowing customer-facing staff to prioritise service quality.

It's hopefully clear at this point that the humble CCTV camera is undergoing a fundamental transformation, moving from a practical security measure to a rich source of customer insights and opportunities for process optimisation and service improvement - another great example of how technology is ushering in a new era of high-street shopping, where customers enjoy bespoke experiences that they want to repeat again and again, and staff enjoy the freedom to focus on what they do best.

To find out more about how Exponential-e are supporting the high-street's transition into the next stage of its evolution, do not hesitate to contact our team.

Providing the technological foundation for true immersive experiences, across every channel, throughout every step of the customer journey.

Our Retail brochure offers a comprehensive overview of how we draw on a deep understanding of the sector's singular challenges, an evolving technology ecosystem, and a highly consultative approach to offer bespoke solutions that help staff deliver their best for every customer - both online and in person.

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