Lee Ellams
May 17, 2024

Data-Driven Retail Insights: Smart Cameras to Understand Customer Behaviour and Optimise Store Layout

Surveillance technology in the retail sector now extends far beyond its traditional role in security. Smart cameras, with their real-time data analytics capabilities, are not only enhancing security measures, but they are also revolutionising the way retailers understand customer behaviour and optimise store layouts. Integrating smart cameras into the broader IT infrastructure unlocks data that can be utilised by Visual Merchandising and Space Planning teams, as well as store designers and marketing departments. By harnessing advanced analytics, retailers can gain invaluable insights into customer demographics, traffic patterns, dwell times and product preferences. This wealth of information can form the foundation for strategic decisions aimed at enhancing the overall shopping experience and maximising sales potential.

Key Technologies Driving Store Layout Transformation

Smart cameras alone are not transforming store layouts. However, when combined with technology like virtual line crossing and facial recognition, they can unlock unprecedented insights into store dynamics. These technologies can also leverage AI and machine learning to further enhance the understanding of customer behaviour and make informed decisions about store layout. Here we explain how:

1. Virtual Line Crossing Detection

Traditionally associated with security and safety applications, line crossing technology can be a valuable tool for customer behaviour analysis and store layout optimisation. With this technology, retailers position digital lines on the video feed and the technology detects when people cross the line recording footfall.

By strategically placing virtual lines at key points within the store, such as entrances, exits, aisles and product displays, retailers can track customer movement patterns in real-time. This data can reveal:

  • Popular and less frequented areas: To identify areas with high foot traffic and areas that customers tend to bypass.
  • Traffic flow direction: To understand the natural flow of customers through the store and identify any bottlenecks or areas where customers back up.
  • Dwell time: To track how long customers spend in specific areas, indicating product interest or potential layout issues.

Based on the collected data, retailers can:

  • Optimise product placement: Position high-demand items in areas with high foot traffic, while placing less popular items in strategic locations to encourage browsing.
  • Adjust store layout: Remove bottlenecks by widening aisles or rearranging displays to improve customer flow.
  • Enhance product visibility: Place high-margin or promotional items in areas with high dwell times to increase purchase likelihood.
  • Assess promotions and displays: Monitor customer engagement with specific displays or promotions based on time spent in those areas.

Furthermore, by combining line crossing data with other sources, such as sales data or customer surveys, you can gain a more holistic understanding of customer behaviour and preferences.

2. Facial Recognition

In a security context, facial recognition software is typically used to identify known shoplifters or to restrict access to secure areas of the premises, by identifying unauthorised personnel.

However, the integration of emotion recognition algorithms can take store layout optimisation to the next level. By analysing facial expressions, retailers can gauge customer sentiments and understand their behaviour on a deeper level. This could help identify:

  • Product dissatisfaction: If customers consistently display negative emotions near specific products, it might indicate labelling issues, product placement problems, or lack of information.
  • Layout confusion: Frustrated expressions in specific areas might indicate confusing signage, unclear product categorisation, or difficulty navigating the layout.
  • Positive engagement: Smiles and other positive expressions near displays could highlight effective product placement or engaging promotional areas.
  • Product interaction: If customers pick up, examine, read product packaging or return products to the shelf, it might suggest interest or reveal product placement issues.

Combined with human trajectory data (virtual line crossing) and heatmaps, customer sentiment/behaviour analysis can inform store layout improvements.

This might involve:  

  • Relocating products: Placing high-interest items in areas with high foot traffic or positive engagement.
  • Improving signage: Addressing areas where customer sentiment is predominantly negative by providing clearer product information or directional signs.
  • Optimising checkout flow: Identifying bottlenecks and adjusting checkout lane configurations based on customer density and customer sentiment.

By leveraging these insights derived from smart cameras and integrated technology, retailers can drive tangible improvements in both store layout and customer experience. At the same time, smart cameras enhance security and increase operational efficiency, minimising the physical infrastructure and software requirements associated with traditional CCTV. This drives down costs as well as the time required to monitor, manage and maintain the surveillance system.

All these factors have a positive impact on the bottom line by preventing theft and loss through improved security, enabling faster and more efficient incident response, reducing operational costs through cloud technology, and providing valuable data-driven insights to ultimately increase profitability.

To learn more about how TIEVA can unlock new possibilities for your retail business with cutting-edge IT solutions, speak to one of our experts today.

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