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How lidar contributes to smarter retail

How lidar contributes to smarter retail
Smart retail entails the use of security and IoT solutions to help retailers learn more about customer behavior and increase conversion. This note examines how lidar can help retailers achieve that.
Smart retail entails the use of security and IoT solutions to help retailers learn more about customer behavior and increase conversion. In the second of this two-part series, we examine how lidar can help retailers achieve that.
Increasingly, lidar has found its way into non-AV and non-security applications, such as retail. This comes especially at a time when physical retailers, facing stiff competition from their online counterparts, struggle to obtain more data and insights about their customers. While video surveillance can contribute to this, it has privacy issues that shoppers are concerned about. Lidar, combined with advanced retail analytics, presents itself as an alternative solution that is accurate yet protects privacy.
In particular, lidar can help retailers achieve further smartness by way of the following.

Business intelligence

Lidar can contribute significantly to the retailer’s business intelligence. Essentially lidar tags individuals anonymously and tracks their journey and movement around the store – which particular aisle do they go to? Do they dwell or move on? Do they actually make any purchase? In the process the retailer obtains a wealth of information about their customers without collecting their biometrics. These key metrics can then help the storeowner optimize floor space, staff employees and create marketing campaigns to increase conversion. “Lidar maps foot traffic and patterns, which can allow a retailer to see how shoppers are navigating the store, and where there is congestion and congregating. Retailers can utilize this data when setting up displays to ensure the space is set up efficiently,” said Jon Barad, VP of Business Development at Velodyne.

Enhanced customer experience

Lidar can also help enhance the customer experience, which is critical in any retail environment. When the checkout line is getting too long, staffers can check out customers with mobile POS devices. When a customer is seen dwelling at a particular aisle, a staffer can be sent to assist. All this can be made possible by lidar combined with advanced retail analytics. “Opportunities for better visitor experience include predictive queue management, or alerting managers of predicted queue states in 5, 10, 15, 30 minute intervals; virtual queuing; improved flow; and assistance alerting, or alerting associates when a shopper has been unattended and is lingering in a key area,” said Gary Angel, CEO of Digital Mortar.

Disease control and prevention

During and post-COVID, lidar can help with disease control and prevention in retail. Specifically, retailers are now required to follow social distancing, occupancy and other guidelines. Lidar can come in handy without infringing upon customers’ privacy. “Lidar sensors are being used to enforce and put social distancing measures in place. Retailers can track where shoppers are and are not following social distancing guidelines and make updates as appropriate. This can help retailers better enforce social distancing, should they be tracking in real-time,” Barad said.

Security and loss prevention

Lidar can help with security and loss prevention as well. Needless to say, retail loss contributes to significant damage to shop owners. Lidar can play a part in reducing loss and shrink. “Lidar sensors generate real-time 3D maps for users to define and monitor customized digital boundaries. Velodyne sensors provide centimeter-level distance measurement data in a wide variety of light conditions to facilitate highly reliable object detection and tracking,” Barad said.
In particular, security and loss prevention is where lidar can co-work with video surveillance. “When integrated with existing surveillance cameras, lidar can provide centimeter accuracy of objects in the field of view of the sensor. This can then automate PTZ tracking of a person of interest when configured in the surveillance systems. This is more common in big box retail stores distribution centers and perimeter fence lines,” said Gerald Becker, VP of Market Development and Alliance at Quanergy.


Lidar should be installed properly to achieve optimal results. “Lidar should be deployed in areas with line of sight visibility to where foot traffic travels. Lidar does not see-through objects or obstructions, so a good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see what you are trying to track the LiDAR sensor won’t be able to either,” Becker said. “Quanergy’s sensors can be fused together to create a mesh network of lidar sensing so ID handover of people traveling in the view of one sensor to the other is seamless.”


We are hearing more and more about smart retail, which entails not just loss prevention but also improved business intelligence and customer experience. Indeed, IP cameras and analytics can help in this regard, but users are also looking for solutions other than video surveillance, which carries privacy issues and other drawbacks. In this sense, lidar can be a good alternative solution, and from now on we can expect to see more and more lidar deployment in retail.

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