Firas Jadalla, Regional Director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, at Genetec, highlights how as consumer needs and requirements are rapidly changing. He discusses how many retailers are hesitant to deploy entirely new solutions that may or may not stand the test of time.
It would be easy to believe that the last six months have changed the retail industry from a care-free world to one that involves closures, physical distancing, and other corona-inspired restrictions. As virus trends in some regions have become unpredictable, businesses are doing everything they can to remain open. For consumers to overcome the apathetic shopping behaviours they adopted during the lockdown, it is crucial to ensure that they feel safe when doing so.
Following a regional survey conducted by Genetec, findings show that 48% of the respondents have not implemented additional security measures during the pandemic, and the majority are not confident of the effectiveness of their current physical security solutions. However, it is important for retailers to improve their in-store experiences by enhancing their security solutions in order to create an environment that is not only hygienic and safe but also enjoyable despite the need for protective equipment (masks, gloves, sanitizing gels, etc.) and mandated physical distancing measures.
The same survey also shows that “better client experiences” and “visitor safety” are deciding factors when it comes to e retailers studying what needs to be done to enhance current security solutions. So how can technology help here?
Using their existing security technology, retailers can quickly put in place solutions designed to support social distancing, manage occupancy limits, and ensure hygiene protocols are put in place. An open platform security system enables the integration of devices and applications needed for safe operating retail stores.
As consumer needs and requirements are rapidly changing, many retailers are hesitant to deploy entirely new solutions that may or may not stand the test of time. They are hesitant to make large investments in technology that will go unused post-pandemic. Fortunately, there are proven technologies that rely on devices, and particularly the ability to unify their data within a single, open system that are already in use by many businesses.
These unifying platforms can be easily deployed with existing cameras and access to help standardize monitoring and response and inform and automate SOPs (standard operating procedures). As the environment and the nature of the threat changes, retailers can update their SOPs to reflect new requirements such as physical distancing and hygiene protocols, and business intelligence features that will directly benefit operations and revenue generation in the long term.
Ensuring Safe Distancing
A top priority for retailers is to define occupancy guidelines and mobilize their operations to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission. To enforce these mandates, they need to know how many people are on their premises at any given moment – then continuously monitor the data and take action when thresholds are exceeded. New capabilities, such as the Genetec Occupancy Management Package, enables stores to operate within established guidelines for occupancy density while leveraging existing systems to adapt their strategy and respond to new risks.
This solution can count the number of people in a store, visualize the data and send alerts to employees when occupancy limits are being reached. In addition to providing demonstrable compliance with local mandates, this approach is considerably less costly than using dedicated staff for counting and thus delivers instant ROI. It is also less prone to error than human counting methods.
Video management systems can also be set up with a “one in, one out” policy to control access. Waiting shoppers are notified when they are allowed to enter a store via a “traffic light” device, for example. With this technology, a retailer prevents overcrowding without having to place an employee at the entrance and risk possible altercations. Approaches like this are far more customer-friendly than some of the cruder approaches that mandate shopping cart use (whether or not you need a cart) to count customers and measure store occupancy.
In a period of fear and uncertainty over the contagion and the knock-on effects of operational disruption, retailers that make health, safety, and security core brand values to create a safe, pleasant, compelling buying experience will win the day. The unprecedented actions that we have undertaken to protect our communities from COVID-19 make it clear that retailers cannot be locked into proprietary solutions that do not protect us as circumstances change. Businesses can invest in technologies that will protect customers and staff now, knowing that the same technology will also provide intelligence and insight after the current threat has subsided. Today, public-facing businesses need an open architecture physical security system that offers them the flexibility to decide which devices serve them best. While it is unclear what will be required in the future, we do know that having the ability to adapt and implement new technologies quickly and effectively will play a key role in keeping shoppers, staff and their communities safe today, and businesses thriving on the long term.