By Sandesh Kaup
The retail industry in India is one of the fastest-growing in the world. According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), it is also the fifth largest and preferred retail destination globally. With the number of large format stores from major retailers on the rise comes the question of security.
Traditionally, each brick-and-mortar store would have a local security center or room in the store where one or two security personnel will sit. At a broader level for a retail chain, this model has many drawbacks, such as having to manage feeds from multiple locations, maintain the hardware at each store, and add to this the complexity of securing stores for servicing growing online business.
The answer to these challenges lies in shifting multiple, local security monitoring systems to an integrated, cloud-based video management system (VMS). A cloud-based, open VMS allows retailers to centrally monitor the store security, thereby standardizing security systems and protocols across their stores and providing a uniform customer experience.
Here are some key factors that retail organizations need to consider while adopting a cloud-based VMS solution.
Reduce Infrastructure Operational Expense
A major driver for retailers to opt for a cloud-based VMS is to eliminate the cost of maintaining physical infrastructure at each location. On-premise hardware can be costly to maintain, update, and replace. By taking it to the cloud, retailers can eliminate upfront costs associated with purchasing and installing physical infrastructure in all stores. This would be profitable in the long term too.
As on-premise infrastructure can chalk up additional operational costs for server maintenance and software upgrades, a cloud-based VMS does away with the need for maintaining and updating on-premise infrastructure and software.
Save Physical Space by Reducing Video Hardware
Depending on the store size, on-premise video hardware can take up a considerable amount of space inside the store. As retailers are always in need of more space, it can otherwise be used for product display or storage. Every square foot of space in a storage area comes at a cost to the retailer. Hence the objective of retailers is to generate revenue from every bit of this space.
Moving physical infrastructure to the cloud will help retailers optimize that extra space to enhance profitability.
Some retailers also keep servers on inventory to ensure they always have backup equipment available in case of malfunction. However, this requires retailers to store multiple, sometimes hundreds of servers in their warehouses. The cost of purchasing and storing backup servers can be significant. By deploying a true cloud-based VMS, retailers eliminate inventory costs since the video is sent directly to the cloud.
Bring in Agility
It is always advisable to have more agile systems in place, in case retailers need to move their set up to a new space or renovate the existing one. A cloud-based server brings in more agility, in addition to reducing costs. Without hardware and inventory requirements, a cloud-based VMS makes it easy to deploy security at a new location.
A Centralized Security Control to Free up IT Resources
When you take away hardware, including the additional requirement of hardware maintenance and software update, it frees up IT manpower and reduces manpower cost. This job now goes to the VMS vendor while retailers can fully focus on running the business.
Retailers should go for a solution that serves them in the long run. With COVID-19 bringing in new challenges, store owners must prepare to implement and manage social-distancing norms such as allowing a safe number of visitors inside the store at a time and providing proper space movement.
The sudden sweep of COVID-19 took most retailers by surprise, exposing massive weaknesses in their infrastructure and abilities to quickly adapt and scale to demands. As the pandemic has affected in-store footfall, cost-saving on infrastructure, clearing up more space for free movement of shoppers, having a centralized security control can help retailers focus on profit maximization.
As per a Retail Holiday Reality Report 2020 by Google Cloud, 53% of retail executives in India feel that their company is accelerating cloud adoption to ensure business continuity in response to COVID-19. Further, retail businesses in India have taken steps to prepare for any unexpected changes and 73 per cent of the surveyed have increased the use of technology for logistics planning as well. Gartner in a recent virtual symposium, also stated that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was the starting point of the Cloud 2.0 era.
As digitalization efforts further evolve in the country, we can expect that cloud will become a must have technology for Indian enterprises.
(The author is Country Manager, Milestone Systems India & SAARC)