Video surveillance in stores: control of empty shelves

Video surveillance in stores: control of empty shelves

We live in an era of consumption and rapid development of high technologies. And it is trade, today, that is the most widespread sphere of human life. The number of retail outlets in cities is constantly growing, and at the same time, the need for continuous improvement of the quality of customer service increases. And nothing disappoints a modern buyer like empty shelves in a store. There is a solution: cloud video surveillance with built-in artificial intelligence modules. This is what our article is about.

Classic objectives of store video surveillance

Standard purpose of video monitoring in stores and shopping centers is to ensure public safety, protect property and prevent theft. This being said, thefts can have an external source or an internal one.

In order to reduce the risk of external theft, it is necessary to arrange the video equipment so that there are no blind spots in the room. For this, a preliminary project for the placement of video cameras is created. In the project, it is necessary to take into account the number of devices and their resolution for image detailing.

We recommend reading the article “Cloud video surveillance for your store: 9 advantages“.

Internal theft is misconduct of staff members. It can be in the form of appropriation of other people’s things or monetary fraud while dealing with customers. Experts identify two of the most problematic areas in stores in terms of internal theft: storage and checkout areas.

Video surveillance (equipment) is installed so that you can see a detailed image of all monetary transactions and the movement of goods in warehouses. By the way, a lot of useful information can be found in the article “Cloud video surveillance for warehouses: implementation in 3 steps“.

Unconventional way to use video surveillance in a store

It was 2020 that marked the beginning of the massive use of smart cameras for business. Experts have noted a significant increase in demand for such video recording equipment, which is not directly related to security, but has the features of intelligent software.

The functions of video cameras with intelligent elements help business solve the following tasks:

  • presence control;
  • control over labor and technological processes;
  • service quality control.

Control of empty shelves

Such an intelligent option of a video surveillance system, as control of empty shelves, can be implemented in two versions.

Option #1: the basis is a comparative analysis of the current image with the base image, which is “perfect”, 100% filled with goods. The algorithm analyzes the data, then determines the characteristics of the resulting image as a percentage. You can independently enter the parameters of the shelf fullness into the system, and the program will notify the owner about the need to replenish the shelves.

IMPORTANT: the more shelves are monitored, the lower the accuracy of the calculations. You also need to correctly set the criterion of “movement of goods”, when buyers take the goods, look at them and return them back to the shelf. The replenishment with goods must be always done in the same way so that the system does not record these changes.

Option #2: the base image of an empty shelf is the basis and a certain color characteristic of an object is established. When the shelf is replenished, its color characteristics change. The program conducts a comparative analysis: the change in the percentage of the base image corresponds to the percentage of shelves filled with goods.

IMPORTANT: inaccuracies are possible if the color of a product has a similar color characteristic set in the algorithm. A proper adjustment of the control system for empty shelves is required, although the program errors are insignificant and cannot radically affect the result.

The use of the additional function of automated control of empty shelves through a video surveillance system has a beneficial effect on the optimization and pragmatization of a business.

Want to know more about implementing a cloud monitoring system for your business? Read an expert’s article “Cloud video surveillance for your business: install in 3 steps“.


Empty shelves, in times of product oversaturation, are nonsense. Customers are extremely demanding on the quality of service and the sight of empty shelves causes shock, unrest and unhealthy agitation. An excellent solution for a business (of any size) would be the introduction of intelligent video surveillance, which promptly notifies the owner about problems, events and the need to replenish product shelves.

Александр Вебер

Alexander Weber

Specialist in video surveillance, video analytics, cloud storage systems. Consultant on the integration of video surveillance systems and tools in various business sectors. Over 10 years of industry experience.

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