Harnessing Business Intelligence to Do Wonders in Retail

The retail market is fast-paced and super competitive with continuous evolution taking place worldwide. Various retail business firms come up with advanced technologies to ensure that customer retention and customer engagement concerns are addressed.

Gone are the days when we saw the customers’ data as records and evidence of the purchase. Today, you can transform the customer’s data, sales data, and other qualitative purchase information into useful marketing or business growth strategies with Business Intelligence.

Read further to know how Business Intelligence can track shopper behaviour, enable personalised experiences and enhance customer loyalty in the retail segment.

Challenges faced by Traditional Loyalty Programs

The traditional concept of a customer loyalty scheme is no more a cup of tea for retail businesses. Though the customers appreciate points-based loyalty programs, the chances of them redeem the points are very less.

The Customer Relationship Programs that many businesses run still fail to maintain an appreciable pace with the changing mindset of the customers. Buyers expect timely and relevant experiences, with modern science and technology, where they rate businesses based on the ability to read their minds.

People now prefer stores that deploy Business Intelligence-driven solutions to reap the best retail shopping experience.

Business Intelligence will Transform Retail

Elements like relevance, customer satisfaction, and personalization key contributors to brand loyalty. Retailers choose to capitalize on innovative technologies such as Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence to enhance the customer experience.

Vision Intelligence helps retailers to tackle their retail store pain points and transform the customer experiences by providing critical insights obtained from visual data that CCTV cameras throw up. By capturing, understanding and analysing the environment in real time it empowers quick decision making as well as a collection of contexts, meaningful data that can be invaluable in retaining customers and gaining an edge over competition.

Business intelligence can monitor how the users interact with the stores, and the data can help the businesses to stimulate the customer shopping experience. For instance, a customer might gain suggestions based on the items they viewed recently, or how much time they spent on gauging an advertisement.

Business intelligence practices can let businesses find relevant information and insights about consumers to make refined business decisions.

Expanding Outreach to Customers

E-commerce lets retailers implement efficient decisions that rely on customer behaviors with business intelligence. Businesses can adjust the prices, or the merchandise they offer, to allow real-time data monitoring.

Brick-and-mortar stores can also use Business Intelligence to maintain a balance between both in-store and online stock to offer affordable shipping options, like buy online or pick up from the store.

Nowadays, most physical stores expand their outreach to customers across all channels to improve the brand experience. Business intelligence methods can also predict when the products might run out of stock so that the retailers can order the items in advance and make location-based decisions for merchandising.

A Range of Benefits

The AI vision gives customers a personalized shipping experience with effective marketing campaigns, customer behavioral analysis, customer service analytics, customer product interaction, demographic intelligence, and many other features.

Here are the benefits of using Business Intelligence in the retail segment:

  • Demographic Intelligence

Businesses can analyze the physical locations of the buyers, find the products, websites, etc. through email campaigns or referrals. Location intelligence also helps businesses to make recommendations as per the locations and user preferences, to facilitate better audience targeting.

  • Monitor Customer Spending Habits and Buying Behavior

Customer loyalty programs can help retailers track customer behavior and spending patterns. As per the research, 52% of customers will join a customer loyalty program once it is offered. Loyalty programs can retain customers easily and help businesses generate user reviews. For instance, the loyalty program of Marriott includes benefits like VIP upgrades, members-only rates, free mobile app check-in, etc.

  • Provide Personalized Shopping Experiences

About 89% of businesses say that the customer experience is a key aspect to drive customer loyalty and retention. With retail intelligence, retailers get insights to improve purchasing experience, packaging, organizing, and the complete delivery of the products. Retailers can also track dwell time, ie. the time the user spends and interacts with your store.

  • Track Social Media Behavior

With business intelligence, companies can use the information to analyze sales and brand performance. Retail businesses can assess the Social media sentiments to track how the products score in the minds of consumers.

Business Intelligence is an effective tool you can use to recommend the products or the product promotions to the buyers based on their social sentiment and past purchase behavior. It helps your business drive profitability, with the personalization and precise customer analytics model.

AI in Retail: How it’s Changing Forecasting for the Better

Every retailer is looking for the next big thing in the industry to gain an edge in the current market scenario. With data coming closer to the logistics, consumer goods companies, and retailers – this is where the next storm is brewing.

For decades, the traditional levels of analytics have been used in the data-driven retail industry. But the recent advancement in artificial intelligence and machine learning have brought a new level of data processing that uncovers hidden business insights.  It opens new avenues to business operators in case of anomalies, forecasting, and correlations.

The pulse point of data influx is determining consumer behavior and catering to their actual needs. By mining insights from the global market and buyer data, AI business intelligence systems predict industry moves and make proactive modifications to a company’s marketing, merchandising, and corporate strategy. This can also be defined as demand forecasting.

In short, demand forecasting enables the right product to be at the right time in the right location. It ensures meeting customer demands and manage costs efficiently.

With advancements in AI, demand forecasting can optimize stock levels, increase efficiency and elevate customer experiences to an automated level.

Here are 4 areas that AI Vision has transformed in retail demand forecasting-

Data consolidation

AI Vision corroborates and centralizes internal data such as information on sales, product characteristics, metadata, marketing, and promotional activities; external data such as sales data from distributors and market research reports; contextual data such as insights on demographic or geographic data and seasonal market – all in one place.

AI-powered vision intelligence forecasting systems are capable of using data from multiple locations to derive complex and hidden relationships between them which can be substantial predictors of demand for the future.

Demand anticipation

Demand forecasting is about predicting future sales based on historical sales data of a given product. With AI Vision-based systems, you can use the most sophisticated vision intelligence algorithms to predict demand accurately. These solutions and algorithms are self-evolving, deployed once and improved in accuracy continuously.

AI Vision can moreover provide new products with no historical data, a base to compare characteristics to the particulars of the previous products. Thus, saving costs and providing customers with their utmost needs.

Impact prediction

AI Vision-driven demand forecasting can categorize demand into ‘real’ demand and ‘promotional’ effect. It can catch the difference between when a customer is purchasing a product for a genuine reason or due to an influx in promotions. It can achieve this by measuring dwell time on customer engagement with ads and displays and tracking customer behavior consistently.

These analytical insights can be utilized by decision-makers to plan and target marketing to direct the target audience.  They can assess the impact of a certain campaign on sales and, as a result, choose the best pricing point.

The intelligent vision monitoring solution is also capable of forging different scenarios, such as gauging how a new clothing line will be received by the existing customer base if it is launched in the next season’s fiscal year collection. Essentially, this can aid the retailers in planning new product launches.

Manage demand irregularities

AI Vision solutions equip business operations to precisely analyze and improve results on overstocking and understocking to increase profitability and avoid wastage. The accuracy in AI Vision complements the business intelligence to give you precision in operational management.

It also helps monitor current activities as well. Vision intelligence detects anomalies such as safety hazards and administrations such as storage capacity,  etc. for immediate action by integrating an understanding of object identification and analysis. It enables visualizing the bigger picture of business in real-time and strategizing accordingly.

To conclude, Retailers must rethink their old supply chain in favor of adaptable and flexible ecosystems that can swiftly adjust to consumers’ evolving behaviors to meet a larger range of customer needs that are going from mainstream to niche. They must filter through the noise to translate diverse data sources into consumer-first strategies when confronted with an influx of information from all elements of their organization- from supply chains to stores to consumers. 

Reimagining Brick & Mortar Retail: How AI Vision can help

As the world recovers from the disastrous global pandemic, we are witnessing the revival and renewal of brick-and-mortar retail stores. eCommerce giants such as Amazon, are investing in innovative physical stores, which is reassuring for the traditional brick-and-mortar retail format.

For physical stores to remain competitive against these online behemoths, it is imperative that they stay up to date with the latest technologies. Modern technology can revolutionize the customer shopping experience and the efficiency of retailers’ operations. For example, Amazon stores are contactless, which means shoppers can walk in, select products, and walk out without stopping to pay. Customers are immediately charged for their goods as they leave the store. While this is convenient, an upgrade to this extent is not practical for most retailers, especially those outside the grocery style format, where customer service is key.

While innovation at Amazon’s scale is cost-prohibitive and inaccessible, there are other, more cost-effective, methods that most retailers can benefit immensely from currently.

Cogniphi’s AI Vision technology upgrades the retailer’s existing security cameras, enabling these cameras to understand what they see and send actionable insights to staff for action. These cameras become intelligent eyes that collect data 24/7 and improve store operations, revenue generation, efficiency, and safety.

The use cases of the data that could be collected using AI Vision are endless. Here are a few questions to demonstrate how beneficial this technology can be:

    • How does a retailer know when a product is out of stock on the shelf?
    • How long does it take a retailer to replenish that stock or place an order?
    • How does a retailer know what kind of customer is purchasing that product?
    • How does a retailer know how long it took a customer to decide on a product?
    • How does a retailer gather this information across all their stores?
    • How does the head office group know that the individual store is correctly displaying the products at all times?

These questions go deeper and deeper to demonstrate the depth there is for improvement in the retail space.

Enhancing existing security cameras with AI means that a camera can see that stock levels are low, can check the system to see if there is stock available in the stockroom, and can send a notification to staff to replenish immediately. This is a far greater outcome than the current model of waiting hours or until the next day for the product to be replenished, causing the store to miss out on sales.

Furthermore, the AI cameras can collect data on how many shoppers were interested in that product, provide information on how long it took the shopper to decide on that product or detect if a product was stolen and trigger a response for staff or security. This data is all anonymized so no shopper is identified.

These are only a few applications of many, that Cogniphi’s AI Vision can achieve. Below we explore applications that Cogniphi has executed at retailers around the world.

Heat Maps

Retail heat maps can help understand individual shop functionality and identify customer behavior at and around aisles. Retail heat map technology uses real-time imaging to detect movement and assign colors to each floor area based on traffic volume, frequency of visits, or dwell time in those areas to understand customer activity, test new merchandising strategies, and experiment with layouts.

The heat maps can be filtered by different metrics and by different customers, for example, by demographics, or by whether a shopper is alone, is a couple or a part of a group. This data is captured at a statistical population level so retailers can now make decisions off population-size data which includes all the available data sets as opposed to traditionally limited sample sizes.

The data can be used to re-design a store layout, product layout, and optimise category positioning by understanding which areas in a store have high traffic and by who, to achieve growth in basket size and value of purchase.

AI-based Loss Prevention

With AI Vision, theft can be prevented by identifying concealment of products, products that are not scanned at checkouts or products that are incorrectly scanned at checkouts. The cameras detect suspicious activity and behavior in real-time, giving retail stores enough time to respond proactively before the product leaves the store, as opposed to reactively spending time searching through footage to find evidence after the product is long gone.

Some retailers have opted to integrate notifications into point-of-sale devices for staff at checkouts, who can stop the offender before they leave or make sure products are scanned correctly. In other stores, a notification is immediately sent to security personnel with an image of the offender. An added advantage of AI Vision is that each incident is recorded and cataloged for later reference, flexible to your requirements.

AI Vision can also prevent staff from stealing by tracking each product across the store in real-time. Reducing such instances in the store can significantly reduce the losses faced by retailers on a regular basis.

Shopper Analytics

Conventional sensor-based, customer analytics apps can detect in-store traffic in limited detail and without contextual information, for example, they cannot tell the difference between a staff member and a shopper, so the data is always inaccurate. They also do not understand when a shopper is shopping in a group so when calculating store conversion rate, the data shows a lower conversion as not all members of a group, for example, a family will be expected to make a purchase. Cogniphi’s AI Vision can help retailers analyze and observe buyer behavior very closely by providing contextual data about shoppers.

Use cases include:

    • Notifying staff if a customer has not been approached for assistance within 30 seconds of entering the store.
    • Notifying staff if a customer is displaying expressions of confusion, frustration or is upset.
    • Collecting data on how many shoppers come into the store each day and ensuring accurate staff resource planning to meet demand.
    • Collecting data on localized shopper demographics for a more personalized product range and marketing messages.
    • Analyzing queue length and alerting staff to open more checkouts or close checkouts.
    • Providing accurate conversion rates and statistics.

Stock Management

AI Vision can monitor shelves and aisles to check if any of the shelves are out of stock or out of place.  This ensures timely adjustments so no customer misses out on purchasing products. It also ensures products are ordered on time so there are no out of stocks.

This data can be collected across all stores and shared with suppliers to hold them accountable for out of stocks or so that retailers can increase their negotiating power by proving they are fulfilling their trading terms and conditions.

Compliance Management

For stores that have multiple locations, there are many requirements imposed on them by their centralized head office. The challenge for head offices to manage is: how do they ensure all their stores are consistently meeting the many compliance conditions imposed on them?

Conditions include (among many):

    • Correct staff uniform
    • Opening and closing on time
    • Correct display of marketing materials and point of sale
    • Adherence to planogram requirements
    • Appropriate cleanliness and cleaning method
    • No out of stocks on the shelf

Using Cogniphi’s AI Vision, each store can receive an accurate rating out of 100%, calculated in real-time, on how they are performing against these KPIs. This will prioritize the efforts of Area Managers whose role is to ensure each store in their area is up to standard. When a store starts to drop its compliance, immediate notifications can be sent to managers to obtain remedies.

Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S)

Retail stores have many risk factors that can endanger the safety of staff and shoppers. In some stores, there are heavy machines that require trained operators. In other stores, a slippery surface could cause an individual to trip and hurt themselves.

Cogniphi’s AI Vision can monitor a store 24/7 for hazards that can impose an OH&S risk. If a spill or slippery surface is detected. Staff will be notified immediately to clean the area. If the process is for staff to wear protective clothing, like a mask, any breach of this will result in a notification to a supervisor and the overall OH&S rating of the store will decrease. 

Looking at a new dawn in retail

Cogniphi’s AI Vision is a plug-and-play solution that layers AI on top of retailers’ existing video/CCTV infrastructure.  It is pre-loaded with functionality features that enable deployment with faster returns.

The solution is highly flexible with retailers globally, progressively adding more features to their cameras every year. We find that typically retailers will tackle 1 to 3 problems in their first year, and after they see results and a positive return on investment, they add more features.

Cogniphi empowers companies with tools, people, and hyper-local solutions to rapidly innovate and adapt in a hyper-competitive business landscape. If your business is interested in finding out more, please see our website for more information [Click here] or reach out to our team, and one of our friendly consultants will be in touch with you [Reach us].

About Cogniphi

Cogniphi is a technology company that enables customers to achieve transformational outcomes through cognitive digital solutions. Cogniphi believes in a 360-degree problem-solving approach, building solutions that can scale and adapt to changing business demands for continuous improvement.

Vision Intelligence could be a permanent feature in the post-pandemic retail store

We are a year into the novel coronavirus pandemic and it is now evident that shopping will never be the same experience again. Beneath its glitzy exterior, shopping at its very heart is a collective experience; it is a way for us to socially interact with friends, family or even strangers. And even though the pandemic has robbed us of this banal pleasure and pushed consumers towards online shopping, brick and mortar stores are here to stay, in fact, according to Euromonitor International – an English strategic market research firm – 83% of all products purchased globally in 2022 will still be bought in-store. However, social distancing is also a reality that isn’t going away anytime soon and customers are going to want safe shopping experiences. It is here that Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds vital answers and solutions.

Vision AI in Retail

Today, digital transformation in retail is all about connecting technologies and converting data into valuable insights so as to improve customer safety and experience. A distinct subset of AI’s Deep Learning capabilities known as Computer Vision or Vision Intelligence is leading the way in this sphere.

Vision-enabled AI is a relatively new field of computer science that integrates Video data, Computer Vision and Machine learning, and trains computers to replicate activities and identify patterns. Vision Intelligence (sometimes rudimentarily referred to as Video Analytics) works by interacting with the surroundings, helping the computer ‘sense’ and ‘recognize’ the live environment and ‘learn’ from the memory of past experiences by extracting patterns in visual signals. It provides the best contextual information to help one speed up business operations since it literally turns camera images into actionable insights and helps retailers be situation-aware real time.

During the pandemic, Vision Intelligence has opened the door for retailers to have their brick and mortar stores fully compliant with Covid-19 safety rules and regulations.

Safety guidelines adherence 

AI-trained CCTV video analytics can be used to ensure social distancing is maintained. Essentially, ceiling-mounted cameras armed with computer vision use Deep Learning AI models to analyse videos and issue real-time alerts about people gathering in large groups or customers not wearing masks, etc. Vision Intelligence can also help store managers allocate personnel based on an analysis of customer inflow patterns; vis-a-vis footfalls, buying patterns, etc. Additionally, features such as heat maps automatically check temperatures of all customers, while issuing real-time alerts in case of anomalies.

Contactless shopping

Shopping in a post-pandemic world is going to focus on contactless technology. Anxious consumers worried about contracting pathogens from a point of sales (POS) will want to view and buy products with little to no physical contact. With the help of augmented reality apps, consumers can see display renderings of products and ingredients while maintaining social distancing. And no-contact checkout technology that uses AI tech can automatically detect when products are taken from or returned to a shelf, thus keeping track of a virtual cart. A contactless purchase means that a customer can simply exit a store, receive an e-receipt, and pay online. This reduces close-contact interaction and helps store staff to focus on other aspects of customer service and management.

In addition to compliance, Vision AI can additionally help retailers gain better insights into customer preferences and create more personalized shopping experiences. Vision AI studies consumer interactions and non-intrusively collects data that will help in determining, developing and implementing tailor-made solutions. For example, features like dwell time monitoring and facial emotion tracking, it is possible to address customer frustrations in real time by eliminating slow billing, predicting queue build up, identifying and assessing inappropriate staff behaviour, and resolving inadequate staff availability in certain areas. Advanced pattern recognition algorithms are also now available to help tracking aisle behaviour of the shopper, which also helps to understand shopper interests, tastes and preferences, as well as improve product placement.

All over the world, whether it is small boutiques or multinational supermarkets, retailers are looking to create convenient, personalised, enjoyable, and most importantly safe shopping experiences. The need for socially distanced shopping has accelerated the need for stores to adapt to digitisation. Computer Vision or Vision Intelligence seamlessly offers retailers the chance to improve their business while adhering to global safety guidelines in a post-pandemic world.

SLIP, TRIP, FALL – Four-letter problems with a 4-letter solution

One of the leading causes of workplace injuries is STF – an abbreviation for the three dreaded words, namely Slip, Trip, and Fall. In Australia, there are more deaths from Slips, Trips, and Falls than there are from fires. In the USA, more than 2000 people need emergency medical care after a slip and fall accident every day, the medical bills for which can often run into astronomical figures of USD 30,000 per case. On an average, 11 working days are also lost as a result of slip and fall injuries. Hence, it is no wonder that insurance claims for incidents involving STF run into billions.

Most STF cases are caused by a lack of active monitoring and shortcomings in safety practices. In fact, negligence is identified as the main reason for STFs and proving it is the easiest route for an accident victim to claim compensation. It is now acknowledged that Slip and Fall accidents are a public health problem because they are so common and costly.

Many slip and fall accidents are preventable and several nations have guidelines for employers to keep workplaces safe and minimize the chances of accidents. If businesses and individuals take the initiative to keep their property safe for customers, other guests, and employees, then they can take preemptive action and prevent these accidents before they happen.

This is where AIVI (Vision enabled Artificial Intelligence) can play a leading role.  AIVI is a technology platform developed by AI experts Cogniphi; it enables an easy and practical solution that can help to continuously track, monitor, and send out real-time alerts whenever there are any shortcomings in safety practices at work places. Be it a poorly lit corner or a slippery surface or a poorly maintained walkway and badly stacked goods, AIVI technology can detect these problems and flag them before disaster strikes.

The AIVI Artificial Intelligence software, which harnesses the power of Computer Vision and Data-driven Learning, works with existing or newly installed camera hardware to detect anomalies in a series of existing conditions and practices followed at retail outlets, factory floors, gas stations, hospitals, nightclubs, or any other workplace. Through its Machine Learning capability, AIVI filters approved conditions and keeps updating itself so as to fine tune its algorithms for pattern recognition and become a literal third eye that warns you of inadequacies in real-time. Solutions deployed can also be taught to learn new patterns and anomalies, and adapt to varying needs as well as build predictive systems.

Even in cases where a Slip, Trip, and Fall does happen in a situation monitored by an AI-enabled video, the instant detection of a Fall can be rapidly relayed to the authorities concerned and illicit a quick response instead of delayed medical care. Timely handling of an STF injury can lead to lesser damage for the person and company.

Talk to Cogniphi and get a further feel of how Vision Intelligence can predict and prevent STF accidents and save your business immense loss caused by Negligence.

A working technology for Loss Prevention in Retail

Inventory loss, also known as Shrink or Shrinkage, is a BIG problem in the retail industry. Usually caused by shoplifting, employee theft, and neglect, this accounts for 2 to 2.5% of Sales, which means a lot of potential revenue disappearing into thin air. Add the Corona Virus pandemic to that and you have Health safety too in the Problem mix.

Which is why more retailers are developing and implementing strategies for their store and earmarking budgets into in-store security measures to track and deter inventory losses, improve performance and support safety.

Digital technologies are constantly projected as the answer as future-proof options for retailers. One of the most widely discussed technologies is artificial intelligence (AI), and one of the forms of AI most easily applicable to the retail environment is Vision.

How does Vision Intelligence work?
Artificial Intelligence in Vision is an emerging technology that enables retailers to harness the power of video to automate the process of identifying and alerting threats in real time. It attempts to enable computers to “see” and understand, in much the same way as the human eye and mind. Computer algorithms use deep learning models to process visual content received from cameras to identify and classify objects. They further analyse for distinctions such as shapes, colors, borders, spacing, and other patterns to build a profile in such a manner that the software will be use this learned data to find other images that match that profile.

Solutions for Shrinkage already exist
Vision Intelligence is already in use to provide traffic and behavior analytics by using real-time, accurate visitor counts and classification, so retailers can understand customer traffic by knowing a customer’s path through the store, where they spend time, and how much time is spent there. Its deep-learning features also provide insights into behaviors and demographics, which can help in optimising marketing, sales, and rewards programs.

Facial recognition is another form of the technology that has been tested and proven in retail. It is particularly useful in helping retailers detect shoplifters and alert when known bad eggs are in the parking zone or about to enter the stores.

Advanced solutions have also been implemented that detect real-time potential loss of billing caused by BoB (unemptied items at the Bottom of the Basket/Trolley), or “Sweethearting” or “Buddy billing” (neglecting to scan all of a friend or family member’s items) or No billing at self check-out counters.  The software can also be taught to identify definitive pattern of habitual shop lifters, like loitering in parking lots, and to recognize actions like putting objects into a pocket or a handbag.

Pandemic Challenge
Existing Computer vision technology can be easily adapted to address challenges caused by the Covid pandemic, such as temperature screening, mask compliance, and social distancing. Thermal imaging, originally intended to detect intense heat for early indication of fire, can be used to screen temperature and detect elevated body temperature of individuals entering a facility. Mask detection used to identify a person as a robbery threat can be adapted to detect a face mask for health compliance. Facial recognition that helps to determine unique customer counts can also now allow retailers to stay within social distancing guidelines.

Investing small

Vision AI has the great advantage of being a flexible technology. Data with a visual context already exists. It is up to you to do what you want with it. Investing in solutions on a small scale to begin with makes absolute sense. That won’t prevent you from being able to expand its use seamlessly in the future, meaning it is future-proof. You can adopt a particular solution to integrate with your retail loss prevention method in any way that you think fit.