Retailers lose an estimated $13 billion to theft every year, and that number continues to rise. Today’s technology has created new risks for retailers, from criminals using store maps to target locations and merchandise, to individuals manipulating POS systems to steal goods. Stores often focus on security systems that allow them to catch perpetrators after the fact. However, an integrated, analytical approach to retail store security systems can stop these thefts before they happen.
Combatting Today’s Retail Security Concerns
Today’s thieves are far more sophisticated than the ones retailers faced in the past. The rapid growth of retail and technology has offered a way for them to organize crimes while escaping retailer notice. Some of these newer threats include:
- Digital store mapping. Many retailers use digital maps that customers can access online to find items in the store. This customer experience enhancement can also be leveraged for organized thefts. Criminals use the maps to pick merchandise to target and locate blind spots in store security. Stores must be very careful regarding what information they may inadvertently give away when trying to welcome customers.
- Sweethearting. The practice of an employee failing to scan an item for a family member or friend is nothing new. However, the increasing prevalence of self-check-out compounded this threat. The most common method of theft prevention at the register is supervision, but this can be costly, and even the best managers can’t spot everything.
- Vendor/third-party risk. Today, many retailers employ third-party vendors to clean stores after hours or stock shelves. These third parties open retailers up to more risk, as they may work during hours where supervision is cost prohibitive. As they’re the employees of third parties, tracking their movements through the building can also be difficult.
Managing these types of risk requires constant supervision and can be costly. Retailers face the unique challenge of having to be able to monitor all types of threats while also making customers feel welcome. Analytics offer an alternative to often intimidating security measures like guards and alarms.
Analytics and Their Application in Retail Store Security Systems
Analytics can provide a store with a better understanding of shrinkage. In many cases, retailers can integrate existing security systems to help them spot common risk behaviors and put a stop to them. Some common solutions that tie together multiple security systems include:
- Transaction mapping. The ability to connect POS systems with video surveillance eliminates hours of investigation in theft cases. Retailers can add text overlay to their video by using the data from the POS to understand whose working what counter, what they’re checking out and if that differs from register receipts. It also helps retailers quickly identify locations of concern and bookmark footage which may be needed later.
- Access control records. Access control is often underutilized in retail as it may seem like nothing more than magnetic locks and keycards. However, these systems provide data which creates a historical record of all personnel movements through a location at any given time. These systems can also be used to monitor for abnormal activity, like someone signing in after hours or making frequent trips in and out of the building.
- Public view monitors. Public view monitors (PVMs) provide an excellent deterrent for all types of theft, as the general public sees exactly what loss control sees. These displays can have the presence of a security guard without the intimidation, making them ideal for monitoring the store while maintaining the atmosphere. They also work with self-checkout POS systems to ensure customers scan all items in their carts.
By combining critical retail store security systems like access control, surveillance cameras, and POS systems, retailers can both deter and minimize theft. Integration can provide a full store view while limiting security’s impact on the customer experience. Even as new threats in retail emerge, innovative technology provides effective countermeasures by offering actionable analytics.