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The Cloud in Retail: Transforming the Use of Video in Stores

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One of the most significant trends over the past several years has been the adoption of cloud-based services, spearheaded mainly by an increasing number of IoT and video solutions being deployed in the retail market. While most high-tech deployments still primarily consist of on-premises solutions, especially when it comes to video, the benefits of the cloud are too appealing for some retailers to ignore.

In a recent SIA Retail Industry Survey, 60% of respondents were currently deploying cloud security solutions or actively planning to invest in the next two years, and it’s no surprise because moving security to the cloud opens up a host of benefits for retailers. From small, single-site locations with a small number of cameras, scaling up to large, multi-site operations with thousands of devices, video and security cloud services are easy to use and cost-effective.

The cloud opens the doors to new efficiencies and reduced loss, especially when you consider the retail operations that include hundreds (if not thousands) of stores across a distributed network of stores and corporate headquarters. While many have coordinated other business functions across their organization, loss prevention (LP) and security still often operate separate from other departments (hello, silos.)

At times this is because the physical infrastructure is antiquated or because individual systems are monitored by a single person. This configuration makes it challenging to standardize operations and extract data that can positively impact the business.

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Nevertheless, it is precisely the makeup of the retail environment and a siloed approach to LP and security that makes it ideal for cloud. Retailers are perfect candidates for cloud-based architectures because many have multiple geographically dispersed locations, limited LP staff, and use disparate video and IoT devices. In retail, however, as with any other industry, decision-makers require compelling benefits for why the organization needs to invest in a new way of doing business. Here we outline how LP and security leaders can sell the value in moving to the cloud:

Closing Time: Keeping Data Secure

Theft is (in most cases) the most significant LP challenge for many retailers, but in recent years cyberattacks have become a massive problem. According to the 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report, the retail industry was the most targeted sector for cyberattacks for the third year in a row. 

This fact heavily amplifies the need for a fully supported cloud solution capable of helping retail organizations address both physical security and cyber threats. Retailers are no longer dealing with just the typical risks inside their stores — they now need to protect against cybercriminals, and as more consider moving infrastructure to the cloud, this becomes even more crucial than in years past.

Cybersecurity is a significant concern. The fact is that there is more data — both public and private — stored than ever before. Retailers need to remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the protection of their systems because physical, LP and IT security are intertwined. The integrity of both is critical to the continuous operation of a business.

Retailers should look for cloud providers that have built solutions on a cloud-native architecture that puts security first. These platforms embed robust protections, incorporate best practice security architecture principles and leverage a multi-layered security approach that is backed by constant monitoring.

Lower Cost, Flexible Billing, Long-Term Benefits

The most common benefit realized from switching from an on-premises, server-based system to a cloud offering is the ability to eliminate significant upfront capital expenses in new video hardware. Instead, it becomes an operational expense in the form of a subscription fee paid yearly, quarterly or monthly. The true cost-benefit for users is flexibility: organizations only pay for what they use, which means they don’t have to make investments in on-site storage solutions that are much larger — and more expensive — than necessary. 

In addition to the enormous amounts of money organizations spend to get their video and IoT networks running, there are also significant dollars spent on ongoing maintenance. Hardware failures are a common occurrence, so much so that businesses often enter a support contract to ensure they’re covered in the event of a device outage or drive failure.

With a cloud-based solution, these tasks are handled by the service provider — often before the retailer even notices there is a problem. In many cloud configurations, the health of cameras and other IoT equipment are continuously monitored and can be fixed promptly, reducing the chance for lost data or system downtime. When manual tasks like applying software patches and updates are done automatically through the cloud, reducing periods of downtime and eliminating the need for IT to address issues individually.

Get More: Elevating the Customer Experience

Securing and capturing camera and sensor data is only the first step. Enhanced customer engagement is the goal for many retailers when they imagine the benefits of video data beyond loss prevention. Today, there’s little doubt that analytics influence how end users leverage video technology in a wide range of applications, but unless you plan on running the high-powered servers necessary for these analytics on every business site, the cloud is your best option to take advantage of this next-gen functionality.  

Analytics hold enormous potential for retail marketing and customer service departments. Imagine using heat mapping to determine what endcap merchandise attracts the highest amount of foot traffic, or allocating staff resources more efficiently because the video system notified you that longer-than-standard checkout lines were beginning to queue up.

These intelligent solutions can entice customers with more profound and unique experiences, resulting in increased engagement in-store and online. Artificial intelligence can help a brand create new tools and capabilities to help guests select the right products with tailored recommendations that forge deeper connections, leading to improved guest loyalty.

Retailers strive to create meaningful customer experiences for millions of people every day. If they want to elevate their customer relationships, they need cloud technology that adds further value beyond security to enhance those experiences. The cloud is designed to be simple and adaptive, so retailers can focus on what matters most — improving their guest satisfaction and driving transactions.


Nigel Waterton leads the sales and marketing efforts for Arcules as Chief Revenue Officer, calling on his 22 years of experience building and managing large, high-growth technology organizations. Waterton joined Arcules from Aronson Security Group, where he served as SVP of Corporate Strategy and Development and led a cross-disciplinary team. Over the course of his career, he has held a variety of senior-level sales and leadership roles with well-known brands, including Protection One and RFI Security. Waterton is recognized as an industry leader, has been quoted in numerous print and online publications and has sat on multiple industry councils and advisory boards.

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