Use Surveillance cameras to improve sales in retail shops!



During one of the Lectures on Business Intelligence (BI) at the University, the instructor gave our group an assignment which was related to the subject in discussion. “Security cameras are they worth in the retail shops, if yes give reasons?”. We researched well on the topic and it gave us very important information on BI with practical insight from players in the retail industry.

A word of caution! In many jurisdictions the use of the camera at the workplace must be done in consonance with the laws of the land because of privacy issues, people under surveillance must be informed.

For legal reasons this signs warning informs you that you are under surveillance.

People in business in the past limited the use of the cameras for just basically watching people. Now, through the use of VCA, we can profit massively using BI to further analyse the information from the VCA. The result of the analysed information can help also reduce of incident crimes in shops and also serve as deterrence. Psychologically the camera changes the behaviour of workers for the better. The Harvard Business Review confirms that it has been proven scientifically that, people who are under surveillance tend to adjust their behaviours. (Bernstein, 2019).

What is video content analysis (VCA)?

According to Liu & Özsu, “ video content analysis deals with the extraction of metadata from raw video to be used as components for further processing in applications such as search summarization, classification or event detection” (Liu & Özsu, 2009). From the definition, video content can be used for a lot of analysis to improve business outcomes. The VCA together with the appropriate cognitive science software applications can help us transform any form of disadvantage into our benefit.

How VCA combined with  BI  tools  helps in retail Business

Through the VCA application, the analyst can find footfall and heatmaps, hotspots, traffic flow, the time customers spend at specific locations in the shop, behavioural patterns of shoppers using facial recognition over a particular duration. Analysing these data, managers can enhance the outcome of the sales of retail outlets.

The layout of the shopping outlets and the arrangements of products goes a long way to influence the buying trends of shoppers. Through the analysed VCA data, we can know the patterns of movements so that, strategically products can be placed in the right place. This includes the placements of advertisements at the proper place.

Through the analyse VCA data, the flow of traffic even from a certain entrance at a particular time in the day, or season can be properly managed. For instance, in the month of February, the VCA data can inform management to position valentine’s days’ products at vantage points.

Also, through the analysed data, BI analysts can correlate the time spent at a particular location in a shop. The frequency at which products are purchased at that location can also be analysed. On the shopping floor, confused customers can be engaged in real-time because the security personnel or analyst at the Video monitor can alert a worker on the shopping floor to attend to the attention-seeking customer.

In many cases, some of these engagements can lead to an eventual purchasing of the product. These engagements also enhance the customer’s shopping experience and improve the Customers Life Time Value (CLV) to the retail outlets.  Cameras can be also used to manage queues and predict queues and manage traffic in shops. For some shoppers, the amount of time spent at the point of sales (POS) terminal could account for a bad shopping experience, this leads to abandoned shopping carts. The number of abandoned shopping cart could also be analysed and the underlying reasons determined.

The Cameras positioned at the entrances could be used in identifying past shoplifters. This is possible with AI facial recognition software so that pre-emptive measures can be taken. These approaches can help retail outlets to take pre-emptive actions to reduce losses. The application of VCA can also be used to identify the class of people that patronize the retail outlets and if they are not satisfied, actionable measures can be taken to improve the outcome.

Lessons for retail shopping outlets in Ghana

The understanding that the camera is not for just watching people is the starting point for managers at the top hierarchy. In these eras of industrial 4.0 technologies and Cognitive intelligence, the camera can be very beneficial for overall business outcomes. According to Tyco Integrated Security, a company which provides advanced security solutions for many companies, there are different types of security cameras namely, Box camera, Dome camera, Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) Camera, Bullet Camera, IP camera, Day and Night camera, Thermal Forward-looking Infrared (FLIR) Camera, Camera, Wireless IP Camera  (Tyco Integrated System, 2019). Getting the proper understanding of the science behind these cameras, for their various applications, retailers can deploy them in addition to requisite software programs (cognitive and VCA) for maximum benefits. For lack of space, my findings on cameras on BI cannot be discussed here.



In conclusion through the deployment of specific cameras, we can study the behaviour of customers and workers for growth and overall improvements in our businesses using VCA and BI tools. Finally, the warning label, “ATTENTION YOU ARE BEING WATCHED” displayed near cameras or displayed at the entrance of the retail outlets have the following three effects; For the criminally minded shopper, it disturbs his psyche and for the non-offending shopper it inspires confidence and assurance of safety and good shopping experience. The lazy worker is occasionally reminded when he randomly sees the warning of possible surveillance. This worker then adjusts to work properly, this reminds me of the cruel surveillance in the movie 1984, but what I am proposing here is for a good cause. 


Bernstein, E. (2019, July 1). How Being Filmed Changes Employee Behaviour. Retrieved from Havard Business Review:

Liu, L., & Özsu, M. T. (2009). Encyclopedia of database System. Boston: Springler.

Tyco Integrated System. (2019, June 23). Security Cameras. Retrieved from Tyco Tyco Integrated System:

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