The Retail Industry: An Unlikely Driver Of EHS Technology Innovation

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The Retail Industry: An Unlikely Driver Of EHS Technology Innovation

Low-risk sectors are often an overlooked segment of the EHS technology market due to lower total EHS spend, less demanding safety needs and reduced EHS resources. The Verdantix industry segmentation places five verticals in this low-risk category: business services; banks, insurers and real estate; entertainment venues; university and education; and retail. Despite this, Verdantix market size and forecasting shows that the retail industry’s spend on EHS software is expected to outpace the overall growth of the EHS software market – boasting a 12% average growth rate through to 2027.

From a health and safety perspective, the retail sector faces challenges not too dissimilar to warehouse, logistics and manufacturing environments, where workers undergo manual, repetitive tasks and sometimes need to negotiate moving vehicle hazards. Retail workers are also subject to elevated levels of workplace violence arising from theft or disorderly public behaviour. These safety risks are compounded by unusually high employee turnover rates. In a survey of more than 100 major US retailers in 2022, Korn Ferry found that the turnover rate for hourly in-store positions was 76%. Consequently, it is challenging to ensure that employees are appropriately trained in H&S procedures, EHS technology systems or ergonomic best practices. In the face of these problems, the retail sector is calling for unobtrusive and intuitive EHS technologies. Two innovative tech-based use cases retail firms should consider are:

  • Building safety workflows into core retail software, such as PoS and worker access systems.
    Australasia-based EHS software provider, ecoPortal, has a deep focus on the retail sector. In a recent retail-based client project, ecoPortal developed a Point-of-Sale (PoS) integration with its EHS software. The integration allowed store workers to report verbal abuse, amongst other incidents, directly from their PoS terminal through a simple form. The solution promotes reporting even during busy periods, avoids the need for training on separate apps and situates incident logs within high-traffic systems. In another project, the vendor built an integration with the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council’s in-store pass. This allowed ecoPortal to retrieve training records and qualification documentation for visitors, merchandisers and contractors. Other EHS software providers with a focus on the retail sector include EcoOnline, HSI and Origami Risk.
  • Proactively identify unsafe behaviours through CCTV footage.
    Retail-focused AI-enabled CCTV monitoring vendors – such as FaceFirst, Scylla and Veesion – can be used to autonomously identify slips and falls, violent acts or unsafe objects, and suspicious behaviour. Consider Scylla, a physical threat detection solution that integrates with video management systems and cameras. In an example gas station deployment, Scylla used facial recognition to alert cashiers to repeat offenders entering the premises. EHS-focused computer vision software firms, such as Protex AI and Intenseye, have an opportunity to expand their technology use case to include unsafe human behaviour monitoring or violent acts detection to cater to the retail market.


The retail sector’s unique combination of EHS challenges and adoption of emergent technologies through cashier-less shopping, advanced buyer behaviour analytics and security systems means many large retail organizations are paving the way for innovative EHS technologies. Consider Walmart, which takes a data-centric safety approach through its ongoing collaboration with StrongArm Technologies’ FUSE ergonomic wearable sensors. For more insights on industry-specific EHS technology trends, or how your organization can enhance its EHS technology ecosystem, visit our website.

Senior Analyst

Chris is a Senior Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice. His current research agenda focuses on EHS software, product compliance software and digital mental health and wellbeing solutions. He was also the lead author of the most recent Verdantix EHS Software Green Quadrant benchmarking study. Chris joined Verdantix in 2020 and has previous experience at EY, where he specialized in robotic process automation (RPA). He holds an MEng in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford, with a concentration on machine learning and machine vision.