Seeing is Believing: AI and Computer Vision for Retail Business

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Imagine you are a manager of a retail outlet selling some popular clothing and accessories. Your business relies on efficient sales by your floor staff and their knowledge about the wares you sell. You know some of your staff are better than others at sales and servicing the customers and have a good feeling who the top performers are, but you’re missing an easy way to tell who is losing you valuable potential sales because they’re just not part of the bigger picture. Most of your staff have passed their quarterly reviews and are making their minimum sales quotas so you simply can’t point fingers based on your gut or hearsay from other disgruntled employees.

The situation described above can be found in shopping malls and retail spaces around the world; employees’ performance is measured using standardized manual performance review systems that inefficiently provide a surface glimpse at employee performance. CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) cameras are used to provide post-event proof in case something happens such as damage to the store, larceny, or other illegal activity. Store layout is determined by a creative designer somewhere in management land which is centrally modeled then deployed across the stores in a country and updated based on available floor space and confining internal infrastructure. While this is a generalization, the way we manage retail today is full of inefficiencies and leaves much room for improvement.

What if there were a way to help you identify who the poor performers using existing data to provide you with an objective means of measuring performance. What if that solution could do more than that, like show you how different Point of Sale displays are performing, or where the ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ zones of your store are? Automate detection of shoplifting and other nefarious activity? What would this be worth to you?

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Computer Vision is a technology that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify patterns in images and video allowing for a wide range of automation and intelligence to be applied to business management. Companies like Graymatics have developed sophisticated AI that use algorithms that are trained to identify specific objects and activity in an image such as a product logo, the gender of person, or for example in the case of a retail store identify and track individual employees and measure how much time it takes for them to service clients. Through the analysis of hundreds and thousands of images and actions algorithms can be created to identify and measure almost anything in still photography and video content.

Retail is a great place to start thinking about how to create new efficiencies in operation while identifying ways to increase revenues.

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From the human resource perspective, adding the ability to identify poor performers and help provide targeted training based on their actual challenges can help weed out employees who shouldn’t be working for you and build a high-performance team at the same time. The system can be trained to even measure customer satisfaction using emotion identification which can help identify the staff that deliver the best (and worst) customer service.

Direct the technology at to the floor space and you can see where customers are spending time and with which specific products, even break down the analysis to identify demographic (age, gender, and ethnicity), psychographic (brand affinity, consumer trends), and behavioral (research offline buy online, impulse buying) patterns of your customers. This data can be gathered and analyzed on a store by store basis delivering a new way to optimize how each individual store is managed, organized, and optimized.

From the security perspective, being able to automate analysis of activity from customer shoplifting to internal activity can save massive amounts of time while identifying areas of insecurity and potential danger that human scanning could never identify.

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What you can do today with Computer Vision in retail can immediately deliver a measurable impact to your bottom line while adding savings in efficiencies and adding a layer of objective performance management to the store floor. The solution set is by no means limited to retail, imagine using similar automated visual measurement and detection for street traffic, in warehouses, for security; the applications are only limited by what you can think of that can be trained to the AI.

Maybe it’s time to take a look! Feel free to reach out if you’d like to know more about how Graymatics can realize new Computer Vision-powered opportunities for your organization.

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