In fact, "what didn't happen" might be the next big thing in retailer video. Amazon has a patent on using digital video to make sure shipments aren't mispacked, and several chains have tested video systems that let store security quickly spot missing children who haven't been abducted (they're usually just lost or hiding). But what about reviewing video to identify displays that don't attract shoppers' attention? Or to spot products that multiple customers put in their carts and then decide to return to the shelf? Catching shoplifters in action is fine—but video of what's not happening could end up being even more useful.
Surveillance video isn't just for spotting what happens inside a store these days. It can also be used to establish what didn't happen. This month, a Burger King franchisee used footage to knock down a lawsuit claiming that an unwrapped condom had been included in a Whopper. Carrols Restaurant Group was sued in 2007 after a customer claimed he bit into his Whopper and found the condom. But after Carrols came up with video tracing the burger's assembly—with not a condom in sight—the customer dropped the suit.