Vertical Markets

Retail analytics report

by Mark Rowe

Retailers should use video analytics more strategically, to control costs, improve operations and increase profitability. That’s according to a report, commissioned by the ECR Retail Loss Group and supported by a research grant from Genetec Inc, the Canadian security software firm. The report advises retailers to extract maximum value from their video surveillance systems.

The report, ‘Reviewing the use of video technologies in retail’ arose from interviews and site visits with 22 retailers, based in the US and Europe – the likes of Abercrombie and Fitch; Adidas; Big Y; Boots UK; Carrefour; Co-op; JD Sports; John Lewis & Partners; Lowes; Marks & Spencer; Morrisons; Next; Primark; Sainsbury’s; Tesco; Travis Perkins and Walmart. The report summarises the ways video systems in general, and analytics in particular, are being deployed across retail, including their use by legal teams for health and safety compliance, and monitoring ‘slip, trip, and fall’ incidents. Business intelligence applications may aid customer service through better staff response times and product availability; generate data such as heat maps and customer dwell times; people counting and queue monitoring; delivery alerts; and aid pick accuracy. Given the need to extract value, a video ‘Tsar’ with overall responsibility for the strategic oversight of video deployed across the business is suggested.

Adrian Beck, pictured, Emeritus Professor at the University of Leicester, was author of the report. The loss prevention and shrinkage veteran said: “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 organisational objectives.”

Scott Draher, VP Asset Protection and Safety at Lowes, the US DIY retail chain, said: “Video has over the years become an even more indispensable tool for the whole business, not just the security team. This landmark report provides an essential guide to asset protection and loss prevention leaders on how to proactively manage video, and the data it creates. It not only promotes ways of applying critical thinking to the use of video analytics, but most importantly clears the path on ways they can start to shape a company-wide approach that enshrines video as more than just a tool for security, but an asset for the whole company.”

And Rob Borsch, Practice Leader for Banking and Retail at Genetec said: “With multiple, disconnected retail buying units and departments all voicing different data needs, technology providers have historically responded with siloed, custom solutions that add cost and effort, while reducing ROI and scalability. But by taking a more holistic approach, driven by a centralised vision and direction, all stakeholders can become aware of available solution capabilities, like tailored dashboards for each department, to help drive better engagement and ROI – a key focus for retail moving forward.”

To download the report visit

The Group also runs monthly online discussions; visit And modular training: visit

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