4 Ways Video Management Systems Are Disrupting Retail

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As more and more shoppers get vaccinated and begin to feel comfortable returning to some semblance of normalcy, retail outlets are once again adapting to welcome shoppers back into their stores. One of the technologies they’re deploying to reopen effectively is video.

Surveillance cameras, typically associated with theft-prevention and security, not only help stores enforce social distancing regulations but also improve the customer experience. Here are four ways retailers can capitalize on video management technology.

Thermal Mapping

Thermal mapping (or heat mapping) is created from video footage gathered by a store’s surveillance cameras. Using video analytics that are integrated into the video management system (VMS), store management is able to identify high-traffic areas that show where customers linger. By visualizing the customer’s dwell time on certain products, retailers can identify hotspots in a store, determine the most effective store layouts and displays, and identify which products are popular — and which are not.

Think about the number of times you’ve picked up a pair of shoes on display, only to quickly put them back after a closer look. This is a sign that the product is appealing but potentially overpriced. Business owners can leverage this data to adjust pricing and strategically position products to best serve customer needs.

In other cases, customers may engage with a product in an unusual way. By utilizing a VMS feature called “object left behind” or “object removal,” retailers are able to see how customers are interacting with specific products and, for example, prevent label switching or theft. 

Thermal mapping technology can also be used to identify highly frequented, crowded areas, so stores can reposition products to reduce backlog and maintain social distancing standards. Thermal mapping streamlines the shopping experience and keeps everyone safe, ultimately making it a win-win for customers and retailers alike.

People Counting

It’s essential that store managers always know how many people are in their store, not only to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements but also to reduce congestion. Video management systems use real-time video analysis to count the number of people in an area and can notify staff when the maximum capacity has been reached. This is an easy way to avoid overcrowding or excessive numbers.

People counting can also help retailers optimize the number of staff present relative to customer volume as well as record conversion rates (which is the percentage of people who have entered a store and bought an item). Additionally, this technology can tell retailers when customers enter a store. This information can be compiled into daily, weekly, or monthly reports, which allows managers to identify trends or shortcomings that need to be addressed.

Automated Access and Door Control

A major retail pandemic pain point is controlling capacity limits in stores. In most cases, a staff member has to sit outside and manually count the number of people coming and out of a store and stop people from entering when store capacity is reached. It’s a laborious task that can be frustrating for both staff and shoppers.

Fortunately, video management systems can help with this. Because modern video management systems can count the number of people entering and leaving a store, they can automatically open and close doors to ensure capacity limits are met. This saves staff from potentially aggressive customers and helps shoppers rest assured that safety standards are being met.

Beyond the pandemic, automated, intelligent doors also add an extra element of security.

Check-Out Line Management

Shoppers despise waiting in line. Research shows that the check-out line is a make-or-break situation for retailers aiming to keep happy customers coming to their store.

Fortunately, video management technology is improving the check-out experience through video analytics AI. Intelligent video management systems can record the number of waiting customers and inform retail staff in real time. This enables them to react to customer demand instantaneously and expedite the check-out process. 

Video management technology is also useful at a time when shoppers are mindful of social distancing and don’t want to cluster in lines for an extended period of time.


Video management tools are disrupting the retail industry by improving the customer experience, optimizing store operations, and keeping shoppers safe as they flock back to in-person shopping.

It’s vital that retailers capitalize on the opportunity to place the best product in front of customers while still controlling the flow of traffic and monitoring social distancing.

Video management systems transcend security and theft prevention by providing a whole new gamut of services. The modern customer experience is only going to get better as video technology adapts to meet customer needs.

Jeremy Scott is the National Sales Manager at Milestone Systems.