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Top 5 VMS in retail for 2021: Did Hikvision win despite recent concerns?

Top 5 VMS in retail for 2021: Did Hikvision win despite recent concerns?
VMS solutions are integral to retail video surveillance now. But which brands are the most preferred? This survey asks customers to select their favorite VMS software.
VMS solutions have become an integral part of video surveillance for retail, not just because they allow better management of hardware but also because of the analytics that they incorporate. Recent years have seen several companies offering top-quality VMS in the market. recently conducted a reader's poll to understand which among them suit different industries. This article presents retail industry customers' choices. 

Security and privacy concerns have hurt the video surveillance industry in recent years, to the extent that several countries have enforced restrictions on certain companies. Our survey could perhaps shed some light on how individual customers are responding to such macro-level decisions. 

Which VMS won the retail industry race?

About 19 percent of the respondents chose the VMS from Hikvision Digital Technology, making it the most popular in this category. Milestone Systems came up second, with 18 percent of readers selecting it. Genetec, Bosch Video Management System, and Honeywell Maxpro came next, with 15 percent, 10 percent, and 9 percent votes.  

Hikvision considers retail as one of its primary focus areas, not just for VMS but also for its cameras and other security solutions. They cater to a range of retail customers, from small convenience stores and supermarkets to large shopping malls. Interestingly, the recent security concerns and trade wars that brought Hikvision and certain other Chinese companies under the scanner have not made it lose its popularity among customers in this vertical. 

The runner-up, Milestone, also considers retail a significant market. On its website, the company emphasizes security and business intelligence. Its strategy of working with partners that provide solutions like analytics works as an advantage to offer more features and benefits to customers. 

What did the readers say?  

Some of the comments that accompanied the selection gave us an insight into what is most important for customers. At a high level, four themes received emphasis – reliability, stability, market presence, and cost-effectiveness. Some of the readers specified certain brands appealing more for reasons such as open architecture. Others selected certain features like heat mapping, facial recognition, and people counting. As with everything else, the cost was a key factor too. 

Here we present some of the most critical comments:
  • "Easy to set up and their interoperability with 3rd party manufacturers."
  • "Well-known brand name. Good support. Their speed"
  • "Help on the retail operation, occupancy counts, POS integration."
  • “Reliable quality & Cost-effectiveness.”
  • "Face detection feature."
  • "Insights" 
  • "Friendly interface."
  • "Regular support, good product, good after-sales service, new updates." 
  • "Reliability"
  • "Flexibility"
  • "Quality and strong presence in the market."
  • "Price"
  • "All solutions that offer edge recording and archive transfer, motion detection, multi-streaming support, edge storage, and a high level of security."
  • "Cheap price, multifunctional and user-friendly interface."
  • "Crowd and distance features."
  • "People counting." 
  • "The failover and AI features."
  • "Friendly interface, simple configuration, Stable when managing multiple cameras."
  • "Milestone - open platform with their marketplace opens possibilities."
  • "Bosch - one-stop-shop - you can have all integrated into the small but cozy system (VMS+ACS+PA+Intrusion+Fire)"
  • "Heat map."
  • "Simple interface, integration to POS."
  • "Cloud-based"
  • "Open architecture and third-party integration with analytics."
  • "Robustness and stability, and wide integration capabilities and features."
  • "Milestone free version is a very handy VMS for small retailers."

Conclusion from 

Companies like Milestone and Genetec, with their singular focus on software, have dominated the VMS scene for a while now. Customers trust these brands and feel reassured of their market presence. But in retail, at least, Hikvision has managed to outsmart them. Several factors could be at play here. Retail consists of customers from different levels, small, mid, and large. 

The cost might be a prohibiting factor to small and mid-end customers. This is evident from the comment that the free version of Milestone software is useful for small retailers. Of course, there is a tendency to equate low price with low quality, but that clearly is not the case here, as the survey asked readers to select these brands from a list that contained over ten. 

Although the comments do show that customers have some interest in the business intelligence tools like heatmaps, for the most part, security features have dominated the needs. POS integration, for instance, is seen as a must by many. COVID-19 has thrown in the need for occupancy management, a critical factor in retail stores. 

About the respondents

A total of 486 people responded to the survey. These included systems integrators, distributors, consultants, and end users from across different regions. Over ten popular VMS options were given to the candidates and asked to select those they preferred to work with, along with comments on what they liked/wanted from them. 
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