O2 Business improves in-store customer experiences with advanced connectivity-based AI technology

Technology uses artificial intelligence and video analytics to help retail businesses improve the in-store experience, with processes boosted by 5G

Aiming to provide what it calls a slick and efficient experience for customers in retail stores and other public spaces, O2 Business has launched Spatial Insights, a technology that uses video analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide real-time analytics to measure customer numbers, dwell times, queue lengths and product engagement.

As organisations look to build back after the pandemic, O2 Business says optimising public spaces safely and efficiently is key. Initially piloted across 20 high-street stores of mobile operator O2 – now merged with Virgin Media – Spatial Insights is aimed at organisations that manage retail, leisure, transport and travel hubs, offices, live venues and other public spaces.

The video analytics and AI technology is the product of a partnership between O2 Business and Aura Vision, a provider of sensor-free in-store analytics for retailers and malls. It is designed to help deliver insights through occupancy and space monitoring and assessing efficient usage, analysing the flow and movement of people within an environment to optimise workflow, customer movement and flow, enabling managers to make informed space and capacity management decisions.

It is attributed with potentially being able to help improve the customer experience, understanding how customers interact with different services and increasing efficiency by reducing service and transaction times, and monitoring queue lengths, dwell times and conversion rates on certain products. In short, it is claimed organisations will gain a better understanding of their customers and visitors, so they can offer a more tailored experience.

In practice, Spatial Insights captures privacy-protected analytics from existing CCTV cameras without the use of facial recognition. All insights are delivered in an anonymised way, with all personal identifiable information being stripped out of the analysis at source. All data is processed on-premise and is then encrypted and anonymised, ensuring it is completely General Data Protection Regulation compliant and that no personal identifiable information is ever stored.

The technology currently uses 4G, fixed or Wi-Fi network connectivity, but O2 Business said near-future use cases will be able to benefit from the speed and capacity of  the O2 5G network to support the processing of video data at scale. The company added that longer term, this will improve download and uplink speeds of video and reduce latency, so insights can be used in real time to drive automated decisions.

“As a retail business ourselves, our number one priority is delivering the best possible in-store experience – for customers and our staff,” said Sergio Budkin, director of market development at Virgin Media O2. “The Spatial Insights pilot is part of our ongoing effort to find cutting-edge solutions that deliver innovative experiences to enhance people’s interactions with us.

“We have a successful track record of collaborating with partners like Aura Vision to bring the benefits of new tech into everyday business scenarios, and we know Spatial Insights can deliver a return on investment of about 20 times in the first year of use. We are now looking forward to seeing the results for our own O2 Business customers, using video and AI to help them deliver increased footfall, dwell time and conversion within their own venues and spaces.”

Daniel Martinho-Corbishley, CEO and founder of Aura Vision, added: “Our partnership with O2 Business is a fantastic opportunity to show the clear benefits AI technology can provide for both organisations and their visitors – in retail and a host of other sectors. The tech is already delivering impressive results, and by adding 5G speeds into the mix, there is even more potential for using automated decisions and insights to drive further improvements in space management and in-store experience.”

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