It has been more than 70 years since CCTV was first commercially available. It was considered a revolutionary development at the time, but for most of the next seven decades it has not kept pace with digital change.
All of that is changing with the advent of smart cameras, which are now flooding the market with an ever-increasing range of capabilities.
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These capabilities are not simply limited to consumer benefits such as the view of the Amazon Ring front door from a mobile device. Smart cameras also offer a huge opportunity for the business world, particularly the physical retail sector, which now has access to huge streams of actionable insights into purchasing behavior, previously only available to online retailers. But many companies have not yet realized its full potential.
Time to change the habit of a lifetime
There is a pretty big differentiator between CCTV and smart cameras that gives the latter a huge advantage. The CCTV systems that most retailers use today force them to rely on historical footage, rather than the here and now, which means retailers don’t have the ability to make decisions in real time. But with smart cameras, they can.
Smart cameras bring much more intelligence to the world of physical surveillance. Most use powerful processing capabilities and an innovative architecture that minimizes both the physical infrastructure and software requirements of each individual device.
In contrast, deploying smart cameras as part of broader IT infrastructures provides complete visibility into people and customer behaviors, as well as availability status, without the need for staff to inspect individual cameras. This alone is a significant time and money saver and improves both the reliability of surveillance systems and their availability; they no longer have to rely on clunky cables and physical infrastructure prone to downtime. Maintenance and installation costs are also significantly reduced because configuration and software updates can be completed remotely, and Additional cameras do not need to be directly connected to the physical infrastructure, only through a wireless connection. Such plug-and-play infrastructure is likely to make the cost of expansion cheaper and more predictable in the long run.
More importantly, however, access to video footage becomes much easier, in contrast to legacy CCTV, which often requires stakeholders to tap into a team or contact the manager of a store to get the video before it can be analyzed. In the world of integrated CCTV, data is centralized in the cloud so that any authorized person can do it from anywhere, when needed.
With such systems in place, retailers can not only keep shoppers physically safe, but can also access new streams of advanced business intelligence.
These are just some of the technical benefits of implementing smart network CCTV, but the business case really comes to life when you consider how smart cameras can drive actionable business intelligence, exceptional value, and enhanced customer experiences.
Reaching the full potential of the smart camera
Smart cameras have many different applications within the retail environment; replacing traditional CCTV functionality (at greatly reduced cost with much more flexibility), is just the beginning.
Its ability to recognize certain customer behaviors is undoubtedly one of its greatest advantages. Understand and identify customer personalities and behaviors in such a detailed way, whether it’s a customer leaving the checkout without all their items, their personal characteristics, or even the items they’ve stopped at. it’s something that was previously only available to online retailers, giving them the edge.
Now these data streams can be fed into cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) tools, which automatically generate accurate customer profiles that are used to optimize the broader digital marketing strategy for brick-and-mortar stores. This allows for a more personalized and personalized customer experience, where customers only receive the news, product information, and special offers that fit their personality and will encourage repeat visits.
For example, imagine that a young man walked into a coffee shop alone. Once identified by smart cameras in the store, they can communicate with digital screens in front of the customer to produce marketing materials that are of most interest to them.
The benefits don’t end there either. As Amazon Go shows, smart cameras also open up cashierless shopping by identifying products in customers’ baskets as they leave the store, enhancing their in-store experience. Along with other IoT devices, the technology can also be deployed to streamline replenishment while also preventing theft, which was up 20% in 2020 compared to 2019 before the pandemic temporarily disrupted in-person retail.
Advanced behavioral detection is also being built into these smart CCTV systems to further enhance these statistics, again leveraging AI and machine learning tools to identify patterns of criminal behavior and send automatic notifications to the appropriate member of staff. This can be extended to the point of sale, comparing the data generated by CCTV with enterprise resource planning and point of sale systems to automatically flag any suspicious transactions. This promises to streamline security procedures, meaning customer service staff can spend more time improving service quality.
Taking the humble CCTV camera to 21St. Century
Thus, the humble CCTV camera is undergoing a fundamental transformation from a practical, albeit limited, security precaution to a rich source of customer information as well as opportunities for process optimization and service improvement. It’s another great example of how technology is ushering in a new era of high-street shopping, where customers enjoy personalized experiences they want to repeat again and again, and staff are free to focus on what they do best. .
What’s so exciting about this innovation is that the capabilities are not limited to retail. There are also myriad potential benefits for the supply chain, for example smart cameras are set to accelerate the development of driverless forklifts thanks to their ability to identify pedestrians and obstacles and avoid collisions. In fact, smart cameras can be extended to any environment where there is a CCTV requirement, making the opportunity for digital transformation and data-driven insights endless across multiple industries.