Security Solutions recently spoke with Michael Day, General Manager for ANZ at Sensormatic.
We reported the news back in January that Sensormatic had launched Sensormatic IQ. Can you please tell us a bit about the product – who it is for, what does it do?
Sensormatic IQ is an open, secure and agile platform that integrates the full Sensormatic Solutions portfolio, retailer, and third-party data sources, along with advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to offer unparalleled visibility into operations and shopper insights. This combination drives prescriptive, data-driven outcomes for retailers, creating value and growth opportunities as retailers move into the future.
It acts as an intelligent operating platform to connect people, merchandise and data to deliver actionable insights. Retailers can leverage insights for direct actions that decrease operational costs, increase profits, and enhance brand value by:
- Powering the digital transformation within the evolving retail market
- Accelerating integration between new and existing solutions and data sets
- Enabling agile innovation via a secure, scalable, and managed enterprise-grade platform
- Amplifying value by deriving new insights and outcomes from complex data streams
- Streamlining execution across retailer functions
I note from the release that Sensormatic IQ has advanced tech inbuilt, such as AI. In the context of a retail environment, what does this functionality bring to shoppers and business owners?
Retailers now need to adhere to local guidelines regarding social distancing and implementing new health and safety protocols to create a safe environment will be critical in restoring consumer confidence. In this respect, data and analytics can provide retailers with an up-to-the-minute understanding of shopper density within their stores. This visibility into occupancy means retailers can meet social distancing guidelines by knowing shopper occupancy and adjust thresholds to comply with regulations. This data will also reveal when stores approach maximum occupancy limits and optimise cleaning schedules for high-touch areas such as self-checkout kiosks or fitting rooms as well as common facilities such as restrooms. With sufficient data, AI and Machine Learning will in time, be better able to predict spikes in traffic and demand, allowing retailers sufficient lead-time to meet customer demands while maintaining important health and safety protocols.
Retail automation will also increase opportunities for workers to move up the value chain. The role of sale associates has changed over the years. By having accurate, detailed shopper information, sales staff can build better interaction opportunities with customers. They can make more personalised recommendations, cross sell and upsell – thereby increasing sales – on items that they know shoppers are interested in. Arming salespeople with insights also empower them to go the extra mile – which turns customer satisfaction into customer delight. With increased confidence comes increased drive and ambition – which means the job of the retail sales associate has also changed. The retail associate’s role is now elevated to become bona fide brand ambassadors. Hence, retail automation is more likely going to improve retail jobs than to replace them.
It is probably becoming a tired topic, but what have you witnessed as a response to the pandemic, in terms of business conditions in the typical retail environment
Across Asia-Pacific retail, there’s massive variation in retail diversity, but according to Bain & Co., the pandemic has most obviously hastened the migration of sales across the board from brick-and-mortar stores to online channels. Asia-Pacific consumers are already prone to do most of their online shopping through their phones, and this trend is set to deepen, with Forrester forecasting that 70% to 85% of e-commerce will be conducted by phone in 2023 in key regional markets. Retail sales in Australia surpassed expectations and increased from 1.4% in March 2021 from February 2021. The online migration of sales is squeezing Asia’s networks of physical stores – with Bain & Co. stating that stores will need to change role as well as format, contributing to a more seamless omnichannel whole as e-commerce continues to grow.
How has Sensormatic come through the past twelve months or so?
During the pandemic, many non-essential retailers were shut, which affected Sensormatic’s business to some degree. However, novel requirements have arisen because of the pandemic, such as new occupancy and capacity restrictions. During this period, we focused efforts on developing solutions that would aid retailers when they were able to start operations. Solutions such as thermometer scanning cameras, hygiene stations, portable industrial sterilisers, self-checkout and occupancy solutions were developed so that retailers were able to pivot to comply with these requirements, and so they could provide a comfortable and more importantly safe environment for shoppers. We also came to the realisation that physical store retailers now require more data than ever to cope with the challenging pandemic environment and digitalisation acceleration. Sensormatic IQ, which was launched in 2021, is targeted at retailers to alleviate some of these challenges.
In more general terms, what are you seeing out in the Australian marketplace? Are people optimistic, or otherwise?
The Australian marketplace has proven to be incredibly resilient through the pandemic lockdown challenges with both consumer and business confidence returning rapidly from September 2020.
We expect consumers to increase their spending and consumption habits, given that there has been strong retail spending recovery in Australia in the second half of 2020, according to Deloitte. We anticipate a stronger desire from shoppers who crave shopping in a safe and physical environment. In this current climate, delivering a positive customer experience also means allaying consumers’ concerns about personal safety, especially in enclosed spaces. Retailers will have to assure customers that they are doing their utmost best to curate a comfortable and safe in-store shopping environment.
Rebuilding consumer trust in physical stores is an area that retailers must act on quickly. In fact, forward looking retailers are evolving their in-store digital capabilities to create smarter stores and cater to this demand shift by automating store occupancy and monitoring social distancing compliance. Technologies that retailers are leveraging include the use of artificial intelligence (AI), smart sensors, and Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, and other emerging applications that not only help simplify operations but also unlock the possibilities to gaining greater customer insights, allowing for a seamless customer experience across all channels.
Comparing Australia to other regions where Sensormatic does business, how advanced are we in terms of adopting new technologies?
Innovation is ingrained in Australia’s DNA from early settlement where the tyranny of distance necessitated the population to adapt technologies to meet unique environmental needs. More recently, as Asia has led the world as a manufacturing and technology hub, our proximity has resulted in the exposure and availability of new technologies ahead of the larger markets in Europe and North America.
If you couple Australia’s propensity for technology adoption with proximity to new technologies and a strong mature economy Australian business have been well placed to invest in new technologies. Examples of this through a Sensormatic prism were global firsts in shopper behaviour insights via our ShopperTrak analytics platform (STAn) and real time inventory availability via the TrueVue cloud platform.
Specifically looking at Sensormatic’s local model, how do you conduct business here? Are you direct to market, do you rely on a partner ecosystem, etc?
We take a multichannel approach in Australia via a direct sales and service team, supported by a Business Partner ecosystem and e-commerce. Our direct team support our Global and National clients from design, implementation and ongoing service across our three pillar solutions of Loss Prevention, Inventory and Traffic.
Our Business Partners play a crucial role in supporting in select geographies and with select solutions along with supporting their induvial clients in regions. Our E-commerce site supports the clients with latest solution information and importantly access to purchase smart sensors online.
What can you tell us about the next 12-24 months for Sensormatic – is there anything particularly exciting on the horizon?
In the next 12 – 24 months timeframe, we do feel that there will still be a lot of uncertainty in the general retail scene globally, due to the ever-evolving situation with the pandemic.
What remains exciting for us despite all this is how retailers are accelerating their adoption of digitalisation. Specific to Sensormatic Solutions, with the launch of Sensormatic IQ, we look forward to bringing in more data points into the platform.
One example of this VisionWorks. It is Sensormatic’s Computer Vision offering designed to deliver retail operational insights based on best-in-class deep learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) models. It has been created in partnership with Intel and optimized for retail using Sensormatic Solutions proprietary AI algorithms. This new offering provides retailers with easy access to real-time data, prescriptive insights, and reporting in a one-stop, consolidated dashboard while leveraging existing camera infrastructure.
Anything else you would like to tell us?
Physical stores are here to stay. Stores will need to change roles as well as formats, contributing to a more seamless omni-channel whole as the sales mix tilts further to e-commerce. In the future, it is likely that stores may transition into operating as showrooms or hubs for order picking or click-and-collect services, with increasing level of automation as fulfilment options like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curb side pickup grow in popularity.