Miriam is opening her dream store. She’s been building for years to this point, saving money, building connections, taking on loans. And now it’s time to open. But there’s a nagging worry. Security. What if vandals pick on the new guy? What if thieves target her store? How does she protect her business? She needs surveillance.
IP cameras are the gold standard for retail security today. IP cameras differ from traditional CCTV cameras by running over your IP network. In other words, they speak internet.
Closed Circuit TV cameras, as their name indicates, run over independent analog or digital networks. It’s like the difference between a modern HD display and an old CRT display. So you can just imagine how much better the picture quality is with IP cameras.
Because IP cameras are connected to your network, they’re capable of intelligent analytics, advanced video enhancements, and much more.
The advantages don’t stop there, as we cover below.
Surveillance solutions for retail stores
Miriam leased a nice space for her store in an up-and-coming neighborhood. It’s not too big, but still sizable enough. There’s good sunlight from the big windows that face south. There are three aisles of merchandise, plus a narrower extension towards the back with racks along one side. The register is near the door.
This is the space she needs to protect.
So where does Miriam start? Being a detailed planner, she starts with research. What protection do IP cameras offer her?
Advantages of IP security cameras for retail
Miriam learns that IP surveillance offers many advantages for business owners. Quite remarkable, actually.
The biggest advantage of surveillance is preventing loss of product. Monitoring your store lets you see thieves in action. Detailed video evidence protects your business against fraudulent lawsuits.
One unfortunate fact is that an awful lot of product loss comes from employees. Whether that’s them taking food from a grocery or giving unauthorized discounts to a friend, these losses can add up. Or if a new employee is making mistakes, you’ll be able to intervene right away. Having in-store security can prevent internal product loss.
Enhancing customer experience
IP cameras let you study the behavior of customers, which has all sorts of positive consequences.
You can immediately see when shelves need to be restocked. If a customer queue is growing too long, you see it happening in real-time and can send another employee to open a register.
Integrated analytics make it even simpler to do this. IP camera video management system (VMS) can do all this automatically. Analyze how people move about the store to improve the flow. Learn what people are most interested in and adjust your inventory accordingly, or even what advertising would be best to invest in.
Some IP camera systems offer built-in analytics like people-counting to give you hard data effortlessly. And a clear record on what times are busiest lets you set appropriate, cost-saving schedules.
CCTV cameras record to videotapes. It’s very expensive to purchase and store new videotapes for every session of recording, so companies often reuse tapes. This can lead to significant deterioration in the quality of your video evidence.
That defeats the whole purpose of surveillance, right?
With IP cameras, your video is stored in computer files. They’ll never deteriorate. And with the dramatic decrease in the price of storage today, it’s quite inexpensive to keep a permanent archive of video.
Retail IP camera features to look for
Miriam is impressed by all the advantages of IP cameras. She’s definitely going to go with network-enabled retail cameras. But what features should she look for?
IP cameras let you securely connect through the network to live video feeds. If your network video system supports it, you can set up a VPN (virtual private network) that allows you to view feeds securely from anywhere on your smartphone.
Alarm or event triggering
You can’t spend your whole life watching security video. That’s why intelligent IP cameras offer integrated alarm or event triggers. When the store is empty at night, you want to make sure you know what’s happening.
An intelligent alarm trigger can sense when something unusual is happening and alert you how you want, like sending a notification. Or it can trigger more detailed recording.
Public view displays
Having a live feed of your surveillance video can deter bad actors by showing clearly that they’re on watch. It can also reassure shoppers that they’re being protected.
It can be integrated with store signage, for example, with a split-screen feed with a quarter with your logo, a quarter with the surveillance feed, and half with a menu. Make sure your IP camera system enables streaming of live video feeds to HD displays.
Many IP cameras offer two options for recording surveillance video: in camera and network attached storage. In camera options include built-in SD or microSD card slots, which are now quite sizable. A 128GB microSD card can hold a lot of video in a drive hardly bigger than a fingernail. Or you can use a network video recorder (NVR) or other network-attached storage (NAS) solution.
Point-of-Sale (POS) integration
IP cameras can connect to your POS system, so all your most important information is managed through a single system.
Power over Ethernet (PoE)
PoE is a standard that allows you to power a device using an Ethernet cable. Power is injected using a PoE switch or PoE injector. Using a PoE IP camera can reduce your infrastructure costs and eliminate clutter.
ONVIF is a set of open industry standards for IP cameras. Compliant cameras and recorders of whatever brand are able to be used together, reducing headache when shopping.
Axis features for retail surveillance
Miriam has looked through all her options. One brand seems to stand above the rest for their build quality, their simple management, and their extensive features: Axis.
Axis is known for their innovative features that improve image quality, optimize feed efficiency, and simplify management.
You don’t want to be overburdened by huge video files. You also don’t want your network to be swamped by all the video traffic.
Zipstream solves this problem. The technology lets the camera understand what evidence is important, like moving people, and what is not, like unchanging backgrounds. It then lowers the resolution of the unimportant information while retaining all the important detail.
Zipstream lowers bandwidth and storage load by an average of 50%!
Axis WDR – Forensic Capture
As you know from your smartphone, cameras have a hard time dealing with high-contrast lighting. If one part is brightly lit and the other’s in shadow, one part is going to be under- or overexposed.
WDR – Forensic Capture applies multiple exposure levels and more in real-time to provide 120dB of dynamic range, much, much more than the typical camera. And it’s suitable for scenes with motion or with ultra-high-resolution cameras.
Axis Corridor Format
Axis Corridor Format provides a vertically oriented picture, like a video you take on a smartphone. Instead of spending all your bandwidth on recording walls, you get the appropriate framing of the scene.
Infrared video works in complete darkness, giving you video evidence with no light. If your store is very dark at night, you might consider infrared solutions.
Axis OptimizedIR uses integrated, discreet infrared illuminators that are highly efficient LEDs. The LEDs can be individually adjusted to prevent reflections. It becomes wider or narrower when you zoom in and out.