Can Store Security Cameras Also Improve Sales?

by Christy Rakoczy on September 5, 2013
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Security cameras are a necessary investment for many small businesses, in order to protect property and prevent merchandise theft and other crimes. Since you already own these devices, wouldn’t it be nice if you could also use them to drive sales? Now you can.

Several service providers allow you to turn your existing security cameras into tools that help you to monitor shoppers’ behavior, hone your marketing strategy, and develop new customer-service solutions.

Here are three companies that can get your cameras to serve as more than watchdogs:

  1. Prism Skylabs — This company’s cloud-based app works with your inexpensive off-the-shelf hardware. Its software enables you to monitor your place of business remotely and get detailed reports about how your customers and employees behave. Based on these reports, you can learn what items customers browse the most, how long people wait in line, and more. You can use this information to tailor your marketing efforts, to set worker schedules to coincide with peak shopping hours, and to respond better to customer needs. One clothing designer who uses Prism Skylabs in her two shops says the $50 monthly fee for the service is well worth it: She tells CNET that she’s seen a bump in revenue since she started using the app.
  2. RetailNext — RetailNext, a provider of in-store analytics, also uses existing security cameras to collect insights about your in-store traffic and customer behavior. Among other things, learning more about your customers’ shopping habits can help you to develop better merchandizing programs. RetailNext’s upfront and operating costs are a little higher than Prism Skylabs’: Expect to pay $1,000 to $2,000 in startup costs and the same in annual fees.
  3. SceneTap — SceneTap markets its mobile app to bar owners and patrons in large metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago. The software essentially collects real-time data from security cameras, which enables the public to “check out the scene” at various hotspots around town. Meanwhile, bar owners get charts and reports on customers’ demographics and behavior. SceneTap also lets proprietors send coupons and special deals to their regulars’ mobile phones. The cost to get started with SceneTap is about $4,o00.

What’s the catch? Although the potential benefits to small businesses are apparent, you’ll also want to make sure you’re respecting people’s privacy, the Wall Street Journal warns.

Make it clear to customers via clear signage that the data you’re collecting is about aggregate — rather than individual — behavior and that it’s being used to improve their experience at your store or establishment.

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