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Mar 27, 2017 04:14 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

'You're being watched': This CCTV tech helps retailers identify potential buyers

Mindtree's Flooresense solution uses in-store video camera feeds to help retailers spot and retain high-potential shoppers, and maximise sales.

ByChaitanya Gudipaty
'You're being watched': This CCTV tech helps retailers identify potential buyers

"You are being watched."

No, it's not a reference to the warning displayed at the start of a fictional TV show. Nor does it allude to a government's secret surveillance system.

While cameras, security and surveillance spook most of us, IT major Mindtree has used this combination to develop Flooresense — a solution that helps retailers identify visitors most likely to make a purchase, helping them convert footfalls into sales.

"Most retailers are familiar with CCTV cameras, but they do not use existing video surveillance technology to increase sales conversions and in-store customer experience," Sudhakar Shivashankar, General Manager-Retail Platforms at Mindtree, told Moneycontrol. The platform ensures that a shoppers credentials remain anonymous, he said.

Flooresense's insights are generated from existing infrastructure, such as video cameras at retail shops. The solution sends an app alert to sales executives if it identifies a customer in need of help, in turn boosting the chances of making a sale.

The platform uses a patented machine learning- and crowd analytics-based algorithm to spot a “high potential shopper” using more than 20 different parameters, and notifies the in-store sales associate.

"It provides insights like how many customers visited which category, how much time did they spend there, the path they took, which promotions and displays were most effective, etc," Shivashankar said.

Mindtree has already deployed its patented Flooresense platform at malls and a few retailers in India and abroad. "We are piloting Flooresense solution with a jewellery retailer in Bengaluru," the company said, refraining from naming the retailer.

While online retailers have an in-depth understanding of shopper activity and behaviour, retailers at brick-and-mortar stores have little idea about how a customer shops. The physical retail segment has thus turned to technologies such as crowd analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to regain foothold.

"Flooresense aims to bring an 'online like' intelligence to a retail store," Shivashankar said.

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"The cost of acquiring a new customer is higher than retaining one," said Abhijeet Vijayvergiya, Vice-President and Business Head, India, Capillary Technologies, a firm which provides customer engagement solutions to retailers. "Using artificial intelligence to power video analytics to decide the product placement within the store can yield a great ROI [return on investment]. Mapping the entire footfall throughout the store backed by strong analysis can help result in great conversions."

According to a PwC Global survey, 47 percent of consumers prefer shopping offline as they get to experience the merchandise in person. About 43 percent favour brick-and-mortar stores to get products immediately. Customer choices are also dependent on finding sales associates to help them make an informed choice.

Referring to a June 2016 survey conducted by Mindtree, Shivashankar said, "About 90 percent of shoppers leave without purchasing anything when they can’t find the right person [to help]. Also, 93 percent are likely to buy when helped by a knowledgeable associate."

As sales associates play a key role in the shopping experience, they need to be well-equipped with information to keep the customer engaged and eventually convert it into sale, said Sanjay Vakharia, Chief Operating Officer at denim brand Spykar Lifestyle.

“The footfall to sales conversion ratio would be about 30-40% — owing to the fact that a good sales person will not only educate the customer and showcase the collection available, but also as a consultant who gives them that extra information, a friend that gives them style tips based on their experience,” Amit Sawant, Head of Marketing, Communications and Strategy at Mumbai-based High Street Phoenix and Palladium.

Not just that, crowd analytics can help retail firms target customers with specific campaigns.

"For a person who is regularly shopping from a particular store, it makes more sense to offer a special discount rather than hitting him with bulk messages or mailers," said Pushpa Bector, Executive Vice-President and Head at DLF Premium Malls. "They [tracking] help in analysing the shopping and spending patterns of the audience which help better plan our marketing and communications."

Bector, who heads the portfolio of DLF malls across the National Capital Region, added: "Predictive analysis and data analytics tools are a big boon for retailers and help immensely in targeting the right audience. We are now able to talk to the consumers in their own language, which brings much more relevance."

"In an age where data is everything, this information can be used to customise campaigns, communication, design and visual merchandising at an extremely micro level to suit a customer’s interests and general thinking pattern with tactical campaigns," High Street Phoenix's Sawant said.
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