Sook, one of Retail Week’s Top 10 Global Tech Startups in 2020, is on a mission to transform empty shopping centre units into customisable shopping spaces. The disruptive startup offers flexible retail locations that clients can book by the hour and personalize to fit their brand. Through this innovative approach, multiple tenants can make use of a space at different times of the day; one site can transform from a meditation studio in the morning, to an art exhibition in the afternoon, to a film screening in the evening.
Daniel Burnham, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder, inherited a large number of video security solutions across multiple locations. “Most of the technology was old, unreliable, and unable to provide the data we require.” He sought a security camera system that could scale with the company, offer real-time visibility into multiple locations, and provide data-driven insights to maximize spatial usage.
“In the UK—pre-COVID—there were 50,000 empty shops. We think that number will be over 150,000 when this pandemic is over. Our goal is to build the world’s most adaptive retail space, so anyone can have a place to do their thing whenever they want.”
With Verkada, Burnham’s team has developed a package of valuable analytics to optimize how their spaces are used and interacted with. In doing so, he has visual evidence to enable customer success and provide landlords with measurable insights for accurate occupancy monitoring. He has also consolidated disparate systems into one solution, enabling easier multi-site management and remote access from a centralized platform.
Actionable Insights with Camera Software Analytics
Whilst Sook’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) was focused on the security aspects of a new CCTV solution, both the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Burnham were interested in how they could provide powerful analytics to both landlords and tenants.
“We’re bringing the power of analytics from the online world to the physical world and we are building that funnel. However, we’re not building that funnel just for data’s sake, we’re building it to democratise actionable insights.”
Sook packages up a large dataset from several sources and delivers it via dashboards to both landlords and tenants. Data that Sook, their landlords, and their tenants are keen to glean include: how many people walked past a store, how many entered, where they are moving inside the store, and how long they are dwelling in certain areas.
“Verkada uncovers data points around customer shopping behaviour that we didn’t have previously. Instead of relying on anecdotal evidence, Command now provides us with firm, actionable insights. If we’re looking at a camera heatmap and suddenly we see a drop in activity, we know to dig into the problem and Verkada helps us figure that out.”
Ease of Multi-Site Management
Through Command, Verkada’s cloud-based management software, Burnham has visibility into multiple sites at once. He is able to access video data from the convenience of his mobile device or any web-based browser. He is also able to track movement across sites with heatmaps, then click into a specific camera to view a live feed or review historical footage. This real-time insight, without the need to be on-site, will power the next iteration of Sook’s offerings.
“Moving forward, we want to enable real-time alerts. This way we can suggest tweaks to our tenants and improve the experience whilst customers are still in the store, rather than retrospectively.”
Enhancing Retail Experiences by Leveraging Data
“Retail is changing, we all know it. Physical retail and the use of physical space in retail has to evolve. Verkada enables us to take our landlords on that journey and help them make that behavioural change.”
Sook leverages Verkada’s Command platform to provide exciting new insights for a world used to only measuring success based on rent and revenue. Landlords typically take what’s known as a turnover rent or a turnover lease, but that on top of business rates, multi-year leases are no longer appealing. Added to which, revenue is no longer a useful figure to base success or failure on, argues Burnham:
“Not everything can be measured just in revenue. If you’re using a space for ‘click and collect’, you don’t have on-site revenue. If you’re using a space as a salesroom for customers to scan a QR code and buy online later, you don’t have on-site revenue. With the spatial insights that Verkada offers we’re able to educate landlords using really solid reliable metrics, not just footfall and other vanity metrics which are just like visitors to a website. Footfall is only assumed conversions, whereas Command—combined with our other data sources—allows us to measure the number of people who: walked past, walked in, dwelled, bought something, scanned a QR code, tapped an NFC, and bought something later.”
“Landlords are increasingly talking about not just the return on investment, but the return on experience, and we’re putting real numbers to what can be a rather fluffy element. We simply couldn’t do that without the insights that we pull from Verkada’s Command platform.”
Scaling Up with a Flexible Security Solution
With Verkada, Sook has a scalable solution from both a software and hardware standpoint. The pricing model consists of just two line items: the cameras and the software license. His software license comes with unlimited cloud archiving and user credentials, so he is able to save footage freely and provision any number of users with accounts. Live technical support and automatic updates are also included, so there are no additional costs he needs to account for. From a hardware standpoint, his cameras come with an industry-leading 10-year warranty. With no NVRs, DVRs, servers, or other infrastructure to purchase and maintain, it will be simple for Sook to add ten, hundreds, or thousands of Verkada devices to Command. The cost of overhead in hiring physical guards is also reduced, as Verkada provides Sook with secure remote visibility to sites from any browser or device.
“By aggregating data across devices into a centralised platform, Command provides me with a complete picture of what’s going on across every single one of our sites, with actionable insights in real-time. Regular feature and security updates means that the technology I buy from Verkada today will always be ahead of the curve. Plus, the 10-year warranty means I can spend time on planning for growth, rather than worrying about existing investments.”
No matter how many sites Sook opens, or where in the world they are, Verkada’s hybrid cloud approach provides remote access from one single Command interface, whilst also maintaining the highest security standards. By default, all Verkada systems encrypt data in transit using HTTPS/SSL. All communication is over Port 443 with no port-forwarding or VPNs required, and Verkada cameras make only outbound connections to Verkada's cloud services. At rest, archived videos, user history, and audit logs are securely stored in AWS using AES 256-bit encryption.
Burnham uses Command for visibility of Sooks’ entire estate, but through the platform’s rich feature sets (such as customisable user permissions, audit logs, and the ability to set time limits for shared footage) he can easily empower his team whilst protecting privacy.
Looking Ahead: Innovating and Adapting to Change
“The most exciting thing for me is going on Verkada’s API journey together; knowing we can work together to shape the product roadmap, and in turn shape what I offer to my customers based on what Verkada can do. I would rather have one partner that can bend with us to do loads of different things than hundreds of different partners. We need to scale the next few years, so we need partners that can scale with us, and Verkada is absolutely that.”
Verkada is responsive to the changing situation globally, for example through the Covid-19 Response Suite which enables Crowd Notifications and contact tracing with Face Search. Used with Motion Plotting and People Heatmaps—which provide a high-level view of occupancy levels at any time—Sook keeps their spaces safe and compliant with any relevant legislation.
Burnham speaks highly of Verkada’s customer-first approach:
“Unlike many solutions in the space, Verkada definitely approaches innovation from a customer experience point-of-view. There is data out there in other places that is very rich, but my God, I don’t want to have to write complicated code to be able to get to it.”
“I also appreciate that there are no licence tiers, all customers are equal. I know that when a new feature is released, which is frequently, I’m going to have full and instant access to it; no need to pay for bolt-ons or upgrades.”
Sook is looking to expand their use of Verkada’s integrated technology by introducing environmental sensors into their spaces, providing data on humidity, temperature, noise, air quality, and more.
Burnham has a word of advice for those looking to arm themselves with powerful insights into how their spaces are used:
“Take the 30-day trial. Put a camera in your environment, and let the technology speak for itself. Seeing really is believing.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Verkada, join one of our Introduction to Hybrid Cloud Security webinars and see it for yourself!