With a huge array of online and in-store shopping options available, stores need to deliver great customer experiences to stay ahead. To do that, they need to take advantage of key technologies – such as smart video – which provides a real-time view of customer needs in store and supports faster, more responsive service, says Andrew Martin, Retail Logistics Lead at Hikvision UK and Ireland.
Massive growth in online retail has led to the commoditization of all kinds of products, from furniture and phones to groceries and printer paper. In many cases, the last bastion for differentiation is customer service – whether customers buy online or in store.
But although great customer experiences are absolutely central to success in today’s markets, delivering them remains a major challenge for retailers for a number of reasons.
First, many supermarkets are moving towards semi-unattended or totally unattended environments, which makes it harder than ever to provide the personal, face-to-face service experiences many customers still want.
Additionally, fewer staff in all kinds of retail stores means it’s increasingly difficult to balance customer care and day-to-day tasks such as admin, inventory, and shelf filling.
In this environment of stiff competition, increasing online and hybrid shopping options, and changing retail staffing models, technology solutions can greatly enhance a store’s ability to deliver great customer service. In particular, the latest generation of AI-enabled smart video solutions provide new ways to enhance customer experiences, without the high costs and complexity of manual processes.
Five ways smart video gives you the edge on customer service
Smart video is able to boost customer experiences and deliver new competitive advantage for retailers in five important ways:
- Understand and meet customers’ needs in store, in real time
Smart video makes this possible by providing ‘real-time awareness’ of customers’ journeys through the store. For example, smart cameras can be used to count customers entering and leaving the store, ensuring that enough staff are available to serve them. Staff can also be diverted to the checkout when queues get too long and return to routine shelf-filling and other tasks during non-peak times when fewer customers are in the store.
- Ensure that the right products are available – when and where customers want them
For customers, having access to the right product in the right place at the right time is the cornerstone of a great experience. Smart video can help by registering the availability (or otherwise) of goods on shelves, and by triggering alarms to ensure products are restocked and always available.
Additionally, video data analytics provide new insights into which products are the most popular, helping stores to place them in ‘hotspots’ where customers can find them quickly and easily. This ensures that the shopping experience is as quick, efficient, and satisfying as possible.
- Deliver great service in unattended retail environments
As an increasing number of retailers roll out unattended stores (or stores with very few staff), smart video is taking a leading role. It’s possible, for example, to identify customers who are struggling at the self-service checkout, and to send a member of staff to assist them. Additionally, smart video offers multiple, high-value security applications for unattended environments, from traditional video security to AI algorithms that
detect shoplifting. These capabilities ensure that customers feel safe, while also helping to minimize shrinkage from the inventory.
- Provide pleasant, multi-channel shopping experiences Smart video can help retailers provide far better multi-channel shopping experiences in store based on an in-depth understanding of customer journeys.
For example, analysis of video data can ensure that kiosks for online ordering and product pickups are located in the right areas of the store to minimize congestion and speed up service. Likewise, smart video solutions at the distribution center can ensure that customer orders are picked and packed correctly, as well as ensuring that customer queries and disputes are answered faster.
- Keep stores safe and clean for customers With smart video, store managers and maintenance teams can get alerts in real time to ensure the store is always safe and clean. In particular, AI-powered cameras can detect liquid spills or obstacles in the aisles automatically, allowing staff to react more quickly to ensure that these issues never compromise the customer experience.
Why partner with Hikvision on in-store customer experience
Many leading brand retailers are partnering with Hikvision to enhance their in- store experiences with help from our smart video solutions and our ecosystem of retail technology partners. Our solutions not only give managers a real-time view of how many customers are in the store, and the ideal staffing levels to look after them. Hikvision smart video can also ensure that products are always available when and where customers want them – and that multi-channel customer journeys are optimized.