Exclusive: Offering a better deal for retail

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Fairer VMS pricing models and end-to-end video upgrades are delivering rapid return on investment for a Belgian retailer.

When Barbara Braekman took over the helm of the DIY retail business founded by her grandfather over three decades ago she had a big decision to make.

As the new Managing Director of Safti – already the largest store of its kind in the East Flanders region in Belgium – she had inherited a business with great potential for growth, but also some significant baggage to deal with in the form of outdated infrastructure: ageing electrical systems, network cabling, lighting and video security.

Of these, the surveillance solution is worth singling out because, during the upgrade that followed, it was the new cameras, recorder and VMS that paid for themselves the quickest.

Within a year, reduced losses and operational efficiency gains had added up to more than the cost of the installation.

IDIS, the Korean manufacturer whose tech was used, is keen to get this message out to customers – that video upgrades can deliver a rapid return on investment for customers if you approach them in the right way and ensure manufacturers and integrators demonstrate value. In particular, the company is making a strong case that users should insist on a fairer pricing model, one that the industry often doesn’t deliver.

No unexpected charges

Dirk Vercruyssen, Managing Director, IDIS Belgium says there should be no need for expensive ongoing annual license and camera connection fees, no unexpected charges for connecting a handful of additional cameras and no hidden fees for services and functions that are never used – all charges which are commonly levied by established vendors. These can soon mount up, particularly impacting the bottom line for bricks-and-mortar retailers as they continue to bounce back post-pandemic, evolve in response to the shift to e-commerce and look for ways to improve the customer experience.

“There are many things that systems integrators need to get right to ensure rapid ROI in a retail setting, from avoiding project overruns during implementation to protecting systems with long term support and warranties against failure. But perhaps the biggest issue is one that customers are only just starting to become aware of – the high annual charges they can get stuck with in the form of license fees and device connection costs.”

In truth, he says, there’s often no justification for such charges and customers should carefully evaluate alternatives before they make purchasing decisions.

In the case of Safti, Barabara Braekman and her husband turned to a systems integrator they had previous positive experience with and confidence in, Vermeulen. Owner, Peter Vermeulen recommended replacement of the store’s high voltage cabling, its network cabling, distribution board and lighting. For the surveillance solution, he arranged for an on-site demonstration of IDIS’s DirectIP end-to-end technology.

And at this point the other key factor for return on investment (ROI) became immediately evident. It’s not just about fair pricing but about the performance of the system and how well it works to detect and deter crime and cut losses. The IDIS cameras delivered sharp HD images in varied lighting conditions and its toolkit of features, proven in retail settings globally, was exactly what Barbara Braekman was looking for.

Following the initial demo, the IDIS Belgium and Vermeulen teams collaborated closely at every stage, from the installation – which was delivered while the store remained fully open – through to staff training and ongoing support.

Providing full coverage

The store’s old surveillance system had been expanded and added to over the years, but its performance had become disappointing, with poor image quality and no easy overview of the store. The system lacked a user-friendly VMS to make surveillance operations efficient and security was also compromised by blind spots in many areas of the store – including corners, aisles and points where shelving disrupted views – meaning goods and staff were not protected by the cameras. External areas were not fully covered either, including outbuildings, the customer parking area and ‘drive-in’ facility.

Vermeulen specified IDIS Super Fisheye cameras as the best-value solution to the problem of blind spots and to provide complete visual oversight of the entire store. Installing just 20 cameras, they achieved comprehensive area coverage, internally and externally, more affordably than the alternative of using three or four times the number of fixed lens models. The Super Fisheyes’ exceptional dewarping performance, in live view and playback, delivers ultra-high-definition video footage even in darkness. And recordings are not compromised by loss of detail, even at the very periphery of the scene.  

Four IDIS bullet cameras ensure 24/7 coverage of the car park entry and exit points and drive-in area, while 17 IDIS vandal-resistant 2MP domes cover all the checkouts and store entrances.

IDIS DirectIP technology allowed the cameras to be implemented with simple one-click connection to a 64 channel 4K IDIS NVR – delivering 64 TB storage capacity, benefitting from IDIS Intelligent Codec compression, exceptional throughput and smooth image processing performance. An important advantage of the end-to-end, single source model is that it avoids the complexity and potential cybersecurity risks that arise from working with cameras, VMS and accessories from different vendors whose products rarely offer seamless compatibility or enable users to truly benefit from features such as smooth fisheye dewarping. Instead, mutual authentication between all the devices and software ensures seamless connectivity and rich functionality.   

As a result, Vermeulen was able to install the entire system without any delays, or disruption to Safti’s normal trading. 

At the heart of the system is the IDIS Solution Suite (ISS) VMS, combining a powerful feature set with easy-to-use yet enterprise-class video streaming, management and administration, from an intuitive single interface. With ISS, Safti also benefits from multi-layered failover, protecting against data loss in the event of a range of fault conditions and a range of increasingly powerful deep-learning video analytics.

Superb return on investment

The new video solution paid for itself within 12 months by virtually eliminating theft and is a force multiplier in cost saving from operational efficiency and gaining valuable insight into customer behaviour. In addition, the operational life-expectancy of a video system has a direct impact on its overall value – in other words, the longer it performs perfectly, the better value it represents.

The IDIS solution delivered by Vermeulen is designed to last and let Safti take advantages of forward and backward compatibility and inherent-scalability. So they are looking at options to add more cameras, adopt ANPR to streamline parking and pickups, extend retention periods and make further use of the IDIS Mobile Plus app to give more staff access to remote viewing and playback, improving oversight and control of store operations.

“Safti is delighted with the IDIS video solution that we’ve provided because it’s not just improving security but helping to deliver a better customer experience,” says Peter Vermeulen. “Barbara Braekman has praised our choice of tech, our service and our aftercare as ‘impeccable’.”

IDIS makes the point that, as the world looks toward more sustainable technology, video solutions should no longer be designed around a ‘rip and replace’ model, but built to last, with flexible and scalable software coupled with durable hardware. At the same time, end users should not be expected to pick up the tab of more environmentally responsible solutions and they should not be saddled with unreasonable operating expenditure (OPEX) in the form of ongoing licensing fees and connection costs.

For more information, visit: www.idisglobal.com

This article was originally published in the November 2021 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here

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