How Smart Security and Automation are Helping Retailers Uncover Insights to Enhance Operations

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The retail industry is constantly evolving. Changing and shifting amid ever-transforming consumer behaviour and the emergence of market trends, merchants everywhere are perpetually challenged with the task of consistently meeting this evolution with innovation and creativity and a continuous improvement of the service and offering they provide to their customers. For retail loss prevention teams charged with ensuring the safety and profitability of the business, it means leveraging the latest in smart security and automation technologies in order to protect the operation and secure the retail environment. But, as Jason Macdonnell, President, Smart Security and Automation at TELUS, points out, the capabilities of these technologies extend far beyond protecting the organization from threats, providing an opportunity to harness them and enhance the entire business.

“Smart security and automation systems are transforming the way loss prevention teams approach security, allowing them to get out in front of risk to mitigate its impact or avert it altogether,” he says. “However, these technologies don’t simply apply to loss prevention. They are also transforming the way businesses approach every aspect of their operations. Today’s smart systems allow for the collection and analysis of valuable data and insights that can be acted upon to improve business results. With new smart systems, retailers can do things such as dynamically monitor queue lengths and customer wait times to alert either real-time staffing changes or to gain insights into historical trends for future resource planning. For example, what times during the day do queues backup and create customer inefficiencies? Today’s systems, and the data generated, provide insights into what merchandising is working and the customer exploration and purchasing journeys, as well as helping to streamline business operations and maximize efficiency across the board.”

To help retailers gain a deeper understanding of the latest in smart security and automation innovation and the ways it can help businesses generate valuable data that can be turned into insights to drive an enhanced customer experience and greater operational efficiencies, TELUS is hosting its Access Granted: Unlock your true business potential with smart security and automation virtual event on Wednesday, June 16 at 2pm ET. The event, featuring a panel of industry experts, will highlight the evolution of the retail and banking industries and the ways intelligent security systems can help elevate the performance of their physical spaces.

The evolution of smart security and automation technology

From a loss prevention perspective, recent advancements in video analytics are helping to bolster the efforts of security teams everywhere. Take live video monitoring for example, which is equipped with video analytics to recognize threats and proactively engages automated responses while alerting monitoring teams. There are also visual alarm verification capabilities which allow the Central Monitoring Station team member to verify crimes in-progress, resulting in quicker police response and significantly decreased property loss. Rick Snook, Segment Manager, Retail and Banking, Canada, Axis Communications, recognizes the clear benefits to retailers’ loss prevention efforts, but echoes Macdonnell’s sentiment, explaining that the benefits extend far beyond the realm of loss prevention, positively impacting the entirety of the retail operation.

“The future of retail is going to be about setting yourself up with the right system to enable the collection of true business insights from every one of your retail locations,” he asserts. “Physical security has traditionally always been a cost centre. The new technologies are serving a tremendous purpose in reducing loss and minimizing risk. However, the conversation today is around leveraging the same tools and adapting them to all areas of the business, providing benefits and improvements to human resources, operations and marketing, to name a few. Loss prevention is no longer just a cost center. It’s providing the tools and insights to be able to significantly contribute to a better understanding of retail operations.”

Improving the customer experience

In addition to improving operational efficiencies and streamlining the business, applications of today’s video analytics technologies also serve to enhance the in-store customer experience, providing perhaps its greatest benefit to retailers.

“Retailers are increasingly seeking opportunities to improve their in-store customer experience and better understand the journey with their brands,” explains Macdonnell. “Modern smart security and automation systems can help merchants achieve this by creating a ‘wow’ experience for the customer by leveraging data and video analytics to continuously improve real-time interactions. Retail traffic data and heat mapping can also help retailers understand customer behaviours more accurately, providing a clearer view into traffic patterns, the areas customers are browsing more than others and the products catching their attention. This kind of data ensures store merchandising is set up properly, while increasing the value of product placement fees. And, retailers can also integrate these technologies to create new and more personalized shopping experiences for their customers.”

More automation, peace-of-mind for businesses

In addition to the enhancements that smart security and automation technologies are enabling for their users, their immense capabilities are also making business a lot less stressful for operators to run efficiently. In short, according to Macdonnell, it’s changing the way things are done within the business, removing process impediments while enabling business owners to act on insights that secure the organization while saving them valuable time and money.

“There are many insights you can gain that give you the ability to run your business more effectively,” says Macdonnell. “Analytics gathered from these smart systems help businesses run more efficiently. For example, there are technologies like automated access control that can be programmed to disable your alarm system when your first employee badges in, as well as other automation technologies such as smart sensors or auto-shutoff valves that can proactively detect and prevent unexpected events such as floods. All of this translates into more peace-of-mind for business owners. Whether a single business or multiple sites, automation today should pay for itself really quickly.”

Transforming multiple industries

Despite the clear benefits that modern security technology presents to retailers, its potential can also be applied to other industries operating within similar environments and possessing comparable requirements and needs. In conjunction with the digitization of the world around us, these innovations are helping to transform the way businesses operate, providing them with a basis and anchor point from which effective strategy can be built based on a clear understanding of the business and its customers’ needs.

‘Take the banking industry as an example,” says Snook. “It’s a very similar conversation to what is going on in retail. Much of the current discussion is revolving around the elimination of alarms to allow video to become the security system of the future. And, just as is the case in the retail environment, the analytics that these systems generate for the user can help the banking industry tackle very real challenges impacting their operations, such as removing loitering, optimizing routing and queue lines and utilizing flow and space to its maximum potential. Increasingly, only a small portion of a bank’s physical environment is actual bank space. In North America, the bank is still very much a place where people go to socialize and interact with others. As a result, these spaces have been designed to include large lounge areas where people can communicate and engage. It presents a different set of challenges to those operating within the industry. But it also presents them with a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insights about their customers and how they like to interact with their branch of choice.”

Shaping the future

The power of modern security technology is so great that it’s not only serving to transform industries. It’s also playing a significant role in shaping the ways communities are planned and operated. And, according to Macdonnell, the true capabilities of these technology systems are only now being discovered and leveraged.

“We’re not just helping to create smart storefronts with these technologies,” he asserts. “With the convergence of security, big data, the Internet of Things and, of course, 5G, we’re helping to create smart buildings and smart communities as well. From intelligent traffic systems and connected streetlights to advanced AI that provides insights into traffic patterns or ongoing incidents, our smart city solutions are really going to enable municipalities of any size to improve the lives and efficiencies of their citizens and city planning.” 

TELUS has already rolled out this kind of technology in 65 municipalities across the country, which has helped the company track infrastructure usage, save energy with intelligent lighting systems, improve traffic flow, decrease emergency response times, and much more. With such wide-ranging uses and possible benefits, it seems that the latest in smart security and automation and video analytics technology innovations are already setting a standard for the current and future state of urban spaces everywhere. And, according to Macdonnell, it’s also going a long way toward supporting the continued evolution of the retail and banking industries and providing them with the tools to remain ahead of trends and more easily identify opportunities for further growth and success.

“The emergence of these technologies and the incredible capabilities that they provide for users are changing the game for those operating within the retail and banking industries. They’re allowing them to build systems that enable greater success for loss prevention teams, a more efficient operation and considerable enhancements to be made to the customer experience and journey. And, as these technologies continue to develop, and their potential uses expand further, the current and potential benefits that can be gained are immense.”

To register for the webinar, click here

Want to unlock the true potential of your business?

For those interested in learning more about the benefits of leveraging smart security and automation systems and the ways it can help transform your business through the power of data and insights, TELUS’ is hosting its virtual event Access Granted: Unlock your true business potential with smart security and automation on Wednesday, June 16 at 2pm ET. A panel of industry experts, including Craig Patterson, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Retail Insider, Rick Snook, Segment Manager, Retail and Banking, Canada, Axis Communications, Jason Macdonnell, President, Smart Security and Automation, TELUS, and James Reno, VP, Commercial Business,, will discuss the latest in smart security and automation and how these innovations can help enhance businesses.

*Retail Insider partnered with Telus for this event. To work with Retail Insider, contact:

Article Author

Sean Tarry
Sean Tarry
Sean Tarry is an experienced writer who leverages his unique storytelling abilities to bring retail industry news and analysis to life. With 25 years of learning, including over a decade as Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Retailer magazine, he’s equipped with a deep understanding of the unique world of retail and the issues, trends, and innovators that continue to influence its evolution and shape its landscape.

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