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Eye in the Sky

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Construction is an expensive piece of the retailing puzzle. Allotted capital expenditures can exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a store from the ground up. Executives managing construction and property development could typically spend weeks traveling between project sites.

With locations in 24 countries, including nearly 300 in the United States and Canada alone, San Francisco-based Sephora knows this challenge first-hand. “We rely on site visits and communication with our contractors to understand level of completions,” says Laura Doan, the chain’s vice president of property development. “As part of our growth strategy, we realized that it was essential we find ways to work more efficiently within our teams.”

Besides wanting to cut travel expenses, the chain wanted a technology solution that could reveal any disconnect between the project as originally planned and as it was actually unfolding at the worksite. The ideal solution also had to remotely deliver first-hand project insight so that executives could monitor quality control and document compliance.

“We also wanted something that operated on a simple, scalable platform that would be embraced by both our contractors and our internal teams,” Doan says.

A permanent record
Sephora chose to use OxBlue’s web-enabled worksite cameras and monitoring platform “as a tool to enhance our new store and capital improvement projects’ efficiency and to aid in our schedule adherence,” Doan says.

Users can retrieve archived images or view up-to-date time-lapse videos of an entire project, and OxBlue’s cellular service provides seamless end-to-end data delivery. All images are archived and managed in an off-site data center, protecting sensitive information from disaster or security breaches. OxBlue hosts all components of the platform — hardware, data transmission and storage.

“Virtually every moment of construction is available for immediate review,” says OxBlue president Chandler McCormack, and the archives provide “a permanent as-built record. Once the project is complete, the high-definition quality time-lapse footage can be reviewed in order to determine what worked and what can be improved on the next project.”

The next wave
Savvy retailers are taking the OxBlue solution mobile, whether it means tracking daily progress on a tablet or by using large screens located around corporate offices.

“Our users are increasingly using alternatives to desktop computers such as iPads and other mobile devices,” McCormack says. “We will continue to work with our clients to develop interfaces which take advantage of new technologies.”

Sephora mainly accesses the technology on PCs, but “we have also found the app very helpful while traveling,” Doan says.

Besides staying on schedule and ensuring adherence to design standards, Doan says that the biggest benefit of the camera system is the ability to get an accurate picture of a job’s status.

“Using real-time information, the solution allows us to decide if a site visit is necessary,” she says. “It also helps our teams identify any problems during build out. Overall, the use of the cameras allows Sephora to work smarter and minimize travel for our teams.”

It also has helped the chain better manage its loss prevention processes. “More specifically, we can strategize on repairs and replacements once the stores are open,” Doan says, “and we can better manage historical data on our projects.”