Everything You Need To Know About Intelligent Video Surveillance Systems For Retail

On April 10, 2020 By Team CalAtlantic

Video surveillance continues to be a part of any safety-conscious retail establishment’s security program. Thanks to advances in video technology and machine learning, surveillance systems today are a lot smarter, cutting-edge, and more sophisticated.

We’ve prepared a handy guide on what you need to know about intelligent video surveillance systems today: what makes them all the more indispensable to today’s forward-thinking businesses, how they empower smarter business decisions, and why retail establishments are among the businesses that can benefit the most from their implementation.

Intelligent video solutions for retail

Can Video Surveillance Systems Meet The Challenges of The Retail Industry Today?

It’s challenging enough to be in the retail industry– what with an increasingly competitive business landscape and a less-than-optimal economic outlook for many brands.

There is a persistent shift in the retail market, from the goods retailers sell towards the customers who buy them. In short, even as retailers are looking to be more customer-focused, so too do they need video systems that utilize the latest technology and the greatest versatility, as well as surveillance solutions to help better curb organized retail crime.

The Need For Better Video Capabilities

The video surveillance industry is undergoing a significant transformation—organizations are storing ever-increasing amounts of video captured from low-cost, high-resolution cameras, and they’re retaining the content for longer periods of time due to business mandates, new legislation, and/or future analysis.

This is leading to an influx of surveillance data, and finding a cost-effective, high-performance storage solution is crucial.

The Need For Better Deterrents Against Retail Crime

Even as retailers focus on maximizing profit and nurturing growth, so too must they keep an eye out for criminal activity. Retail crime continues to be a serious issue that threatens many stores.

Best practices in on-site security, as well as law enforcement and legislation, are all struggling to stay one step ahead of criminal elements. Despite all the advancements, however, so too have criminal operations evolved.

In December 2019, the National Retail Federation released the results of their latest survey on organized retail crime (ORC). In essence, it says:

  • ORC continues to pose a serious threat to retailers. Over two-thirds of respondents said they’ve seen an increase over the past 12 months.
  • More than 7 in 10 respondents from the retail sector see the need for a federal law to combat organized retail crime.
  • The financial impact of organized retail crime is considerable. ORC costs retailers $703,320 per $1 billion in sales.

In addition, there have been news reports that criminal syndicates have grown more brazen in their tactics. News outlets have reported that grab-and-dash thefts— incidents where thieves walk in, quickly grab what they can, then dash out to a waiting getaway vehicle– are on the rise.

Even the UK’s British Retail Consortium (BRC) have pointed out that organized criminal syndicates have been similarly just as audacious in their own recent 2020 Retail Crime Survey.

This unchecked growth of retail crime has strengthened retail companies’ collective resolve to find more proactive solutions when it comes to the safety and security of their respective establishments, their customers, and the good people under their employ.

The Need For a More Customer-Centric Approach

The retail industry has had a noticeable shift lately; retailers have become more customer-focused rather than product-centric.

What this means is that rather than being all about the sales, or moving inventory and merchandise, the customer experience has now taken front and center. Happy customers, after all, are a lot more likely to bring in much-needed repeat business, as well as good word-of-mouth.

More progressive retail (as well as distribution) organizations, therefore, have re-aligned according to this more customer-centric approach in order to seamlessly satisfy customer needs.

For this reason, video surveillance systems must also be in line with this radical shift in how the retail industry operates. While regular video and CCTV still fulfills its more traditional function as a deterrent for criminal activity, intelligent video systems play an increasingly prominent role in the retail community’s initiatives by assisting not only loss prevention, but also broader company-wide goals.

Intelligent Video Surveillance Systems Are The Way To Go

More than a method to record events in and around the workplace, video surveillance systems act as deterrents to criminal acts against company inventory and assets, as well as employees, customers, and the establishment itself.

For decades, security has been reliant on traditional closed-circuit TV (CCTV). Even with a combination of security personnel, access restriction to key areas, and advanced early warning and detection systems, some form of video has always been part of a holistic on-site security solution.

Intelligent video systems

The Problem With Traditional Video Surveillance Systems

While many retail establishments are still employing more traditional CCTV-based cameras, this system is not without its problems. Especially as more accessible, more available video surveillance systems are now quickly becoming the new standard for security cameras, traditional CCTV is quickly becoming obsolete.

The main problem with traditional CCTV systems is that they are reactive; they record all the time even if an event has not occurred. This translates into a lot of disk space or cloud storage and more footage for another employee to otherwise monitor and sift through.

Speaking of which, traditional video systems require someone to watch the feed at all times to detect unwanted events. Which means if the feed is cut somehow, or if the guard at the monitoring station is either away or inattentive, critical events might go unnoticed.

As security personnel are still required to detect unwanted events, you will need to employ some to man your video monitoring station. Depending on the level of experience and the equipment you’d prefer, each guard can cost upwards of $25000 a year.

Also, especially for the more entry-level, mass-produced video camera models, you also have a problem with resolution: Lower video resolutions make it harder to distinguish animal movement from human movement in low-visibility conditions, such as in the case of bad weather or in the dark.

Intelligent Video Surveillance In Retail Environments

What is video analytics?

Now, given the increasingly data-led nature of the world, more forward-thinking solutions for video surveillance are absolutely required. Utilizing algorithms to make decisions on “real events”, video analytics and edge-based processing allow CCTV cameras to be more intelligent while also reducing the cost of false alarms.

Video Analytics is intelligent software that is used to monitor and process video content in real-time. The technology behind video analytics allows surveillance systems to identify specific events, patterns of behavior, or attributes from monitored environments.

The algorithms are thus able to perform not just better security functions, but can also aid greatly in improving business processes, and contributing to a greater overall customer experience.

Better-performing security systems might have high-definition (HD) cameras with built-in video analytics that can cover up to four times more detail than standard analog cameras. This means you need fewer camera units to cover the same area, and thus also, helping reduce business expenses.

Thanks to the tech behind video analytics, intelligent video can then distinguish common unwanted events. Animal activity, foliage movement, and humans or vehicles entering (and exiting) the field of view can be more readily determined.

Algorithms filter wanted (and unwanted) information and only present relevant events to an operator in a control room. Deviant activity– whether it’s something criminal or just anything out-of-the-ordinary– can be more easily tagged. In this manner, security staff’s time, energy, and resources are more efficiently maximized as they only have to deal with genuine alerts.

Which Industries Benefit The Most From Intelligent Video Systems?

Intelligent video systems - industries

The retail industry can clearly gain the most from deploying intelligent video surveillance systems.

Video analytics can be used to create heat maps for retailers to further improve business processes and marketing efforts. Through the proper use of smart video, store owners can now get better information to manage queues, generate in-store heat maps, analyze customer traffic and dwell time, and identify trends to help with ongoing promotion efforts.

Business processes that involve optimizing workflow can also be used in industries such as construction, manufacturing, logistics, and distribution. Supply chain management can not only be made safer and more secure but also a lot more efficient through the application of video analytics.

Intelligent video systems also have tremendous use with local governments and law enforcement agencies. Particularly those that are moving towards creating smarter cities, intelligent video systems work very well with other smart systems, allowing for better connectivity and operational efficiency.
How Does Intelligent Video Improve The Bottom Line?
CCTV camera

Video Management & Analytics

Video Management software turns CCTV video (either a live stream or recorded footage) into digitized and computerized data that can be stored, filtered, indexed and viewed for much faster data search and retrieval times.

Video management software also enables applications such as remote camera control, switching camera views and other functions that no longer require dedicated hardware.

Video Analytics software is based on “computer vision”, a branch of artificial intelligence that maps pictures to descriptions. Without computer vision, a picture of a store aisle is a simple grid of color values. With computer vision, the aisle picture maps to an intelligent description of the scene and people in the image. The goals of computer vision are achieved by means of pattern recognition, statistical learning, projective geometry, image processing, graph theory and other related fields.

Though not a new science—research in computer vision dates back over 25 years—recent advances in the computational power of PCs, as well as computer vision technology, have allowed the science to move from theoretical science into reliable commercial video surveillance software.

Moreover, because the applications of computer vision vary greatly and computational capacity continue to advance at the pace of Moore’s Law, new market applications and their commercialization continue to be introduced in this rapidly growing market.

From Image Capture to Image Analysis

Retail organizations record lots of video, with some large retailers recording well over 1 million hours of video per day.

Intelligent video solutions, with its use of computer vision technology, when introduced to current analog or IP video system architecture, can immediately upgrade an installed solution from being a simple passive surveillance system to a proactive information analysis gathering and reporting tool.

Picking up a lot more data instantly, these smart video surveillance systems can filter extraneous data and deliver clear information in seconds.

Experience has shown that the limitations of the human brain—due to its memory capacity, intrinsic biases and distractibility—limits the quality and productivity of conventional human-based video monitoring and event review. The advent of video analytics software is completely revolutionizing the way people use video.

No longer is a person required to watch hours of continuous live or recorded video to analyze or identify interesting events. Rather, once the video analytics software detects unusual activity, it pushes only relevant information to the monitoring agent who can determine the appropriate response or the software can initiate one or more automatic responses.

What Are The Benefits of Intelligent Video Surveillance Systems To Retail Establishments?

Symphony (Inteletraxs) for retail - benefits and features

Smart video solutions are not only deterrents to criminal behavior in and around the retail establishment, they also help improve the bottom line by:

Reducing labor costs

Labor costs can be reduced by either increasing the surveillance capacity of the monitoring individual (e.g. more video can be analyzed per person), allowing for the redeployment of the agent to perform non-monitoring duties or remove the need for the agent entirely.

Increasing system scalability

For humans, large amounts of video data can prove to be a serious obstacle to quick, intelligent video analysis and incident response. With Video Analytics, analysis of very large amounts of video-derived data can be filtered through in a matter of seconds, reducing the need for extra personnel as an organization’s video surveillance needs grow.

Ensuring operational compliance

Unlike human-based monitoring, where ensuring operational compliance is dependent on the integrity of those doing the job, Video Analytics adheres to customer-defined rules and response processes. It also classifies, indexes, and archives every single scene event allowing for accurate reporting.

Improving surveillance accuracy

Unlike humans who miss over 90% of scene activity after 20 minutes of continuous video monitoring, video analytics does not miss anything and greatly reduces the number of false conclusions.

How Does Intelligent Video Surveillance Improve Your In-Store Loss Prevention Initiatives?

Intelligent video surveillance - store loss prevention


While intelligent video surveillance brings with it a wealth of benefits and advantages to retail establishments, loss prevention is still one of the main reasons why businesses choose to have video.

1. Real-Time Alert of Item Removal

Smart video systems can detect in real-time the removal of an item off the store shelf. This is especially valuable when applied to common theft items, such as iPods, high-value jewelry, cosmetics, DVD box sets, etc.

The software can distinguish between a customer who removes a single item from a shelf (normal shopping behavior) from a customer who removes five items from a shelf in a short period of time (suspicious shopping behavior).

2. Improved Case Investigations Through Advanced Search

Currently it can take retail loss prevention professionals many hours to review recorded video to find a specific incident. Not only is a manual review of video data expensive, but it is highly ineffective and delays responses to events.

Independent studies have concluded that a person’s attention span decreases the longer the video review takes place, making successful apprehension more difficult.

With the use of intelligent video surveillance, searching through video data for events that used to take hours can now be done in seconds. For instance, with three clicks of a mouse, a user can filter through 30 days of video footage to find in seconds and receive a continuous movie of all qualifying video data.

Done manually using traditional means, the same search would require sifting through 720 hours of video or more. In addition to labor cost savings, retailers further benefit by having the loss prevention staff in more customer-facing situations as opposed to being in an office reviewing the video.

3. Public Safety

While personal safety is priceless, there is a cost to providing a safe environment for staff and customers. Intelligent video systems can watch for potentially troublesome individuals or groups, as well as vandals, movement in alarm zones, and loiterers without putting store personnel at undue risk during the monitoring process.

At the same time, smart video solutions can permanently record and index any incidents for easy retrieval, which may need real-time or forensic review.

4. Compliance

Intelligent video solutions can also identify variant behavior from store compliance rules.

For instance, the software can generate an alert when people exit the store and trigger Electronic Article Surveillance alarms, thus ensuring that store staff inspects the customers receipt before leaving the store.

Activity after business hours can be similarly flagged and reviewed and store personnel can be observed not following protocol.

Alerts such as these yield valuable information and data regarding staff adherence to corporate and individual store policies. Are receipt checks being done properly? Is there merchandise being lost due to lack of diligence by staff? Are there internal theft issues?

Smart video surveillance and accompanying solution software packages for retail can provide answers to these questions and more.

How Does Intelligent Video Surveillance Improve My Business Processes?

Intelligent video features - KPIs

Consumer retail behavior is affected beyond traditional marketing techniques like product placement and pricing. For any retailer, each store is the medium through which consumers connect with products.

It is well-known that store layouts can affect the time consumers spend in the store, how they navigate through the aisles, and how they allocate their attention and money across departments.

With the use of smarter video surveillance systems, there are new performance measures available that can add tangible, actionable insight to monitoring and evaluating store performance.

  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Store/Distribution Center Traffic (locally or across different stores)
  • Shopping path
  • Aisle penetration
  • Dwell time
  • Conversion rate (with integration of POS)

People counting at an entrance can serve as a measure of consumer demand or sales potential at any given time. Store traffic and conversion rates can be used for a number of applications and KPI metrics including the evaluation of store promotions and floor sales and customer service staff.

When these counts are combined with POS systems, retailers can calculate purchase conversion rates, a known KPI for store productivity. By noting the dominant paths and directions that shoppers take through the store, merchandisers position signs, displays and now even video monitors to catch the customer’s attention.

In addition, recording how long customers spend at various locations (dwell time), marketers can identify points where shoppers will be most receptive to communication. Tracking a shopper’s path through the store and monitoring which areas are trafficked helps to identify new cross-selling opportunities.

Video analytics can also pinpoint crowding conditions and bottlenecks in traffic flow that suggest a need to widen aisles or reposition product displays.

Finally, measuring customer waiting lines at checkout and the potential to identify problems with customer service is a significant advantage.

By counting the numbers of customers entering a store and walking through each aisle, retailers can create thermal maps showing the percentage of customers who penetrate each section of the store and provide valuable information and trend analysis regarding store traffic and flow patterns.

If some sections are visited infrequently, this may suggest the need to provide navigational aids, reposition product displays and/or revise the store layout for improved traffic flow.

It is also possible to cross-check the video data with observational research to get further insight. This is not available by using other methods of traffic flow analysis.

Using the outcomes of the performance measures available with intelligent video surveillance systems, retail businesses can positively impact the following areas:

  • Improve the shopping experience by reducing wait time: Flagging long lines or excess customer dwell times in real-time helps to reduce customer frustration and a potentially negative customer experience.
  • Streamline the shopping process: Keep aisles free of obstacles and position “hot” selling lead items in a convenient and well-marked location.
  • Provide sufficient time and space to buy: By high-lighting crowd density and people counts, retailers can reconfigure shop layout to provide ample room to shop or ensure the appropriate sales support for complex products such as laptop computers. By eliminating crowded conditions which cause people to shop quickly and leave without buying accessories (such as batteries, extended warranties), retail stores can positively impact top-line revenue and store profitability.
  • Accelerate checkout and customer service: Long checkout lines can discourage customers from returning. Smart video systems can help identify excessive long wait lines and alert store managers. In less busy store areas where a full-time sales associate is not justified, video analytics can automatically notify sales associates to assist shoppers. Reports can be generated which can suggest unfulfilled consumer demand caused by excessive waiting throughout the store.

How Do I Now Make The Transition From Traditional To Intelligent Video Systems?

Enterprises are now recognizing the importance of IP surveillance with integrated video analytics over more traditional DVR or NVR deployments as a means of reducing total cost of ownership, increasing productivity and limiting risk on Security and IT Network investment.

As businesses become more network-centric, IP Surveillance enables tighter integration of business processes and multiple security systems (surveillance, access, fire and burglar alarm) under one platform, which increases the overall value of the video management solution.

As the popularity of intelligent video increases, this growing mass of raw video is putting increasing pressure on conventional video management and retrieval methods that are inefficient and costly.

As a result, organizations are quickly embracing video analytics software, an emerging technology that intelligently analyzes the video and promises to revolutionize the way in which video is archived, distributed and managed.

Conversely, Digital Video Recorders (DVR) and Network Video Recorders (NVR) connected to CCTV cameras often consist of proprietary hardware. DVR and NVR deployment cannot be easily upgraded to support new standards and technologies such as video analytics without hardware reconfiguration or replacement.

The best approach to look for an intelligent video solution that has software-based support. This way, both newer-technology and legacy cameras can co-exist on one platform. Software-based Video Server platforms from CalAtlantic, for example, provide a great deal of flexibility and freedom for you to scale and integrate components you require during deployment.

This way, you get a higher overall value and a longer lifecycle from your video surveillance system than standard DVR and NVR installations.

Market Trends in the Security Industry

Security industry market trends

Recent geopolitical events and advances in technology have caused an increased global focus on physical security in both private and public environments. As a result, the security industry is experiencing three key trends:

  • Convergence and integration of physical security technologies with other systems within the organization.
  • Transition from CCTV to IP surveillance.
  • Deployment of Video Content Analysis technology to manage exponential growth in raw video

Other fun facts:

  • According to a 2015 study by IFSEC Global, 45% of organizations have a mixture of both IP and analog CCTV cameras.
  • 65% of CCTV operators have HD or full HD resolution cameras.
  • 20% of respondents said that their biggest worry about their surveillance system was the risk of their manufacturer going bust and no longer supporting software updates.
  • 18% of respondents already use analytics as a business tool. A further 52% have plans to do so.
  • The three most important factors in choosing a surveillance system:
    • image quality
    • a reliable trusted brand
    • easy integration with existing infrastructure.

Convergence and Integration

Organizations are under pressure to reduce risk on Security and IT Network projects and deliver rapid return on investment. As a result, a new breed of network-centric organization is emerging whose business processes and security networks are linked.

The divide between physical security solutions and other IT projects is shrinking as access control, video and intrusion detection are married with HR databases, point of sale and facility management.

These new solutions are based on high-value, information-based software that will support and enhance the organization’s operations.

This is specifically achieved through one unified platform sharing a single user interface, centralized data management, commercial off-the-shelf hardware, and cost-effective infrastructure.

Finally, as security systems are treated like most other Security and IT Network investments—responsibility, decision making, and management is often multilayered involving different departments.

7 Key Advantages of Smart Video Systems Over Traditional Video Surveillance Solutions

7 key advantages of smart video systems

The challenges in today’s fast-changing marketplace are putting increased pressure on Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Security and IT executives who are asked to deliver rapid return on investment, reduce total cost of ownership, and limit risk on IT projects.

IP-Surveillance, through its use of IP cameras and Network Video Servers have significant advantages over DVR and most current NVR deployment due to its simplified deployments, ease of integration, greater application support, and longer life-cycle.

Some of the key advantages of CalAtlantic’s InteleTraxs IP-Surveillance holds over DVRs and most current NVRs are summarized below:

1. Lower acquisition costs

CalAtlantic InteleTraxs solutions are installed on certified Network Server hardware meaning time is not wasted evaluating and acquiring products from new or multiple vendors. Risk Management, Loss Prevention and IT executives can safely standardize and reduce the number of hardware vendors which in turn reduces maintenance and downtime.

2. Greater interoperability

CalAtlantic InteleTraxs IP-Surveillance benefits from converged infrastructure, enabling existing Risk Management, Security and IT investments to be leveraged such as cabling or database servers. DVR and most current NVR installations which normally include proprietary hardware and analog cameras cannot leverage existing investments and as a result, are more costly to deploy.

3. Increased application support

Open, standards-based architectures and application programming interfaces (APIs) enable Video Servers to be easily integrated with other applications allowing organizations to enjoy productivity and cost benefits of an integrated system not normally possible with DVR and most current NVR deployments.

4. Increased flexibility

Video Server software such as CalAtlantic InteleTraxs powered by Aimetis Symphony™ software enables analog, network and megapixel cameras to co-exist on one unified platform. Hardware can be easily upgraded or tailored on a per solution basis. DVRs and most current NVRs include static product specifications that cannot be easily upgraded or customized as changing business requirements emerge.

5. Superior multi-site capability

CalAtlantic InteleTraxs IP-Surveillance easily allows centralized management and storage without always needing additional PC hardware required in remote locations. DVR and most current NVR deployments normally require a minimum of multiple DVRs, multiple NVRs or supporting storage devices per location, which increases maintenance costs.

6. Longer life-cycle

CalAtlantic InteleTraxs IP-Surveillance deployments enjoy a longer lifecycle as Network Server software and COTS hardware do not become obsolete as quickly as proprietary DVR and most current NVR products. IP-Surveillance solutions can be easily upgraded where DVR and most current NVR products normally require replacement.

Further, as new enhancements emerge such as Video Content Analysis, software products running on CalAtlantic certified hardware are easily upgraded to support new applications or standards while hardened DVR and most NVR products require replacement.

7. Video Content Analysis (VCA) is more accessible

VCA improves the overall effectiveness of video monitoring by analyzing and filtering video and notifying personnel as required. As a result, video is more scalable, proactive and cost-effective.

DVR and most current NVR products are normally less technologically advanced and will not support VCA. More importantly, as VCA greatly improves in quality and capability, DVR deployments will continue to lag behind generation to generation. These business benefits can ultimately increase productivity and reduce IT risk in an agile business environment making IP Surveillance the obvious choice.

Intelligent Video Surveillance Systems by CalAtlantic

Symphony (Inteletraxs) for retail - benefits and features

CalAtlantic’s InteleTraxs software solution combines the broad functionality and ease of use of its video management with the highly accurate detection rates of its analytics.

This brings unprecedented value to retail organizations enabling business intelligence gathering and security monitoring on one cost-effective platform.

IP surveillance deployments consisting of Video Server Software installable on CalAtlantic’s Green Series (Eco friendly) hardware offers the most scalable and longest life-cycle than any other deployment. This type of deployment is established on an open, standards-based architecture that enables companies to keep infrastructure expenses in control.

One of the most powerful benefits that CalAtlantic’s InteleTraxs solution software offers retail organizations is the ability to combine business intelligence from video analytics with video management and recording in a single solution.

The integration helps maximize the effectiveness of retail organizations.

Accelerate Video Access and Review

CalAtlantic’s InteleTraxs solution software can be deployed to monitor and record throughout the retail value chain to distribution centers, loading docks, paths from storage to sales, POS and building entries and exits to accelerate response to suspicious behaviors or incidents:

  • Quickly view suspicious events by searching video data based on customized parameters.
  • Send critical scenes to a central review monitor or to local authorities in various media player formats.
  • Monitor loiterers and suspicious packages left in public places or unauthorized access to restricted counters and displays.

Correlate Surveillance with POS Data

According to a recent survey, on a per-case aver-age, employees steal almost 5.7 times the amount stolen by shoplifters. Much of that theft occurs at the POS terminal, making it a critical area for monitoring.

CalAtlantic InteleTraxs solution software can work with leading POS and analytics vendors to integrate POS transaction data with video images and alarms or alerts for each terminal.

With these solutions, it’s possible to:

  • Time-stamp POS transactions on the video as they are being recorded to detect employees who alter sale tags, charge lower prices, allow multiple items through, or miss items
  • Be alerted to unusual product returns
  • Identify suspicious behavior at the POS and alert loss prevention staff in real-time to prevent theft
  • Send actual images of suspicious behavior or activity to designated monitors.

A Final Word About Intelligent Video Systems For Retail

Even as the retail industry finds itself in a challenging position, with margins shrinking and a very difficult economic outlook, intelligent video systems address the needs of three key market trends:

  • The need for retail and distribution businesses to focus on improving the overall customer experience.
  • The need for improved loss prevention measures, even in the face of rising organized retail crime
  • And the need for video solutions that are up to the challenges of a more data-driven business landscape.

Smart video surveillance systems greatly contribute to the bottom line not just by ensuring a safer, more secure environment for customers, employees, and stakeholders, but also by helping improve business processes and marketing/promotion initiatives to improve sales and staff performance.

Advances in video technology, analytics, and artificial intelligence all make smart video surveillance systems a lot more accessible, more easily scalable, and a great deal easier to deploy.

CalAtlantic and its technology partners have thus recognized that greater organizational alignment and collaboration is needed in order to seamlessly satisfy customer needs. Tight cross-functional collaboration between Loss Prevention, Human Resources, Merchandising, Sales/Service, Supply Chain/Logistics and Distribution is necessary to deliver the desired customer experience.

CalAtlantic Business Solutions are playing an increasingly prominent role in the retail community’s initiatives by assisting not only loss prevention but also broader company-wide goals.

Post navigation