How Computer Vision Helps Improve your Retail Stores
What is Computer Vision?
Computer vision is a technology that lets software acquire, process, and analyze images. In the very beginning, this technology was only adequate for basic object recognition. However, modern computer vision systems have proven they can do much more, such as facial recognition and other complex visual analysis.
When artificial intelligence (AI) is paired with computer vision, you end up with software that can perform much more demanding tasks. For example, you can write software that can analyze and classify thousands of images and video feeds in real time. This category of software relies on convolutional neural networks to process and categorize visual data very quickly. This process delivers highly accurate results and allows for advanced computer vision machine learning.
Thanks to more efficient algorithms and easily accessible computing power, modern computer vision analytics software can run on inexpensive computing devices.
Computer Vision use in retail
Retailers and brand owners have an abundance of options for optimizing store sales, testing new promotions, and monitoring employee performance. For years, computer software tools have empowered retail managers so they could make better decisions.
These software solutions relied mainly on financial data analysis and various other sources of business information.
Computer vision goes beyond simple business data analysis. It captures a true snapshot of what’s currently happening in real time. It lets managers visualize accurate information about any store, or area within each individual store.
This explains why computer vision has become an essential component in the retailer and brand owner’s tool set.
Store management benefits
Computer vision lets store managers track the performance of different areas within their store.
They can also:
- Assess and compare the performance of different products sold in-store.
- They can test the performance of various product mixes, and the performance of various promotions within their store.
- They can optimize staffing levels in real-time and respond to customer traffic as it ebbs and flows during the day.
Senior management benefits
Senior managers working at the corporate office can start with an overview of the entire retail chain’s results. They can also drill down to individual stores or specific areas within each store.
Senior managers can:
Brand owner benefits
Brand owners also benefit tremendously by using computer vision. They can quickly analyze any product’s performance and do much more:
- Test and tweak a new packaging design to reach their target customer.
- Ensure each product and packaging is well adapted to the intended demographic.
- Optimize product features based on in-store performance data.
Computer Vision Examples
Retail analytics software
Computer vision software applications produce meaningful and accurate data for retail store owners and operators. The software delivers actionable insights that management can use for retail sales forecasting and analysis. For example, retail buyers can rely on retail analytics reports to plan their purchases based on real data from each store.
Retail data falls under the following categories:
- Footfall and customer counts: Computer vision can distinguish between new and returning customers. The technology can also recognize store staff and exclude them from footfall reports. Vehicles can also be detected and counted using this technology making it great for store pick-up data.
- Demographic data: Computer vision can detect a person’s age and gender to produce highly accurate attendance reports.
- Length of stay: Find out how long shoppers stay in your store, or in any department to determine “hot” and “cold” areas. This is a great sales floor planning tool for any location.
- Customer wait times: Measure the time waiting for service to identify problem locations. Excessive wait times can indicate store staffing or planning issues.
- Shopper’s attention span: The time spent looking at a store display or digital screen is a great indicator of the viewer’s interest.
Since retail analytics data is very useful to brands, retailers can share this data with vendors and brand owners. This way, they can work together to improve their product labeling, packaging design, and product features.
Digital Content Optimization
Digital signage has evolved beyond traditional advertising and promotional mediums. Digital signage screens deliver programmed content that is specific to each venue. The programming can be adapted based on the time of day or day of the week. This is the usual model that most retail organizations rely on to deliver content on their store’s digital screens.
Retailers have invested massively in in-store digital screens to inform, entertain, and motivate. They use digital signage to promote their merchandise and loyalty programs, help people navigate their stores, and provide useful information that shoppers want.
One issue facing many large retail operations is the manpower required to manually update and program content. This is especially difficult for national and international retail chains that extend across multiple time zones, provinces/states, and where languages differ.
In these situations, computer vision can take over each digital signage screen’s programming. It will ensure the best content is shown to each viewer without any manual intervention.
Here’s what happens when you interface your company’s digital signage network with computer vision. You get a powerful content delivery system that adapts to the audience in real time.
Counting more than people
Computer vision can do more than just count people. The technology can be adapted to recognize vehicle types. This is extremely useful for any retail business that offers drive-through services or monitors outdoor signage effectiveness. It’s increasingly important for brick-and-mortar businesses to track and understand vehicle traffic patterns so they can make better business decisions.
Privacy Implications of Computer Vision
With the proliferation of digital cameras in public spaces, there have been obvious concerns about the potential for abuse. This is especially true for individuals who don’t want to be identified or tracked as they go about their business.
These concerns have proven to be unfounded, and here’s why. Professional computer vision analytics software does not retain any personally identifiable information. Images are scanned and interpreted by the software, but they are never saved or stored on the system.
It’s also important to make a distinction between surveillance and analytics software because both can use computer vision technologies.
Surveillance software applications are designed to identify and track people as they make their way inside a monitored space. This type of software is used to control access in secure areas or to reduce theft.
Your typical computer vision-based analytics software has a different purpose. It’s used to count people or interpret the demographic makeup of a person looking at a screen. The data generated by this type of analytics software is anonymous and respects every individual’s right to privacy.
About Aquaji Computer Vision Software
Software applications, such as Navori Labs’ Aquaji, combine Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision to produce meaningful and actionable data in real time. Information is gathered from a network of digital cameras and analyzed by a supported endpoint device.
The information gathered by each endpoint is sent to a backend server that collects and organizes the data so it can be presented in a user-friendly way. Aquaji users can quickly access the data via the software’s secure dashboard. The user interface is easy to use so there is little training required. Users can start producing valuable reports in minutes.
It’s also important to note that Aquaji’s features can be easily adjusted to respect local privacy laws.
Aquaji supports many popular hardware devices, including Navori’s own StiX 5700, Windows PCs, or Philips Integrated Displays.