When loss prevention managers think of video surveillance, they seem to have tunnel vision on the high-cost capital investment that eats up so much of their limited budgets, not to mention the associated storage and software-licensing costs. The traditional brick-and-mortar retail model is also under siege, triggering an urgent need for these organizations to both cut costs and increase sales through “outside the-box” planning and technology implementation. Video solutions on the market now offer retailers more bang for their buck and greater return on investment (ROI) for complete store coverage. But why is this important? From making loss prevention more effective to aligning multiple departments to gathering business intelligence to help boost sales, there are a plethora of reasons why a holistic, comprehensive approach to complete store coverage has emerged as a “must” in today’s retail world.
Streamlined Loss Prevention
Simple video surveillance doesn’t cut it anymore. Just because you have cameras around a store does not mean they’re working for your loss prevention strategy. Loss prevention managers must have technology that goes beyond simply storing video to integrating with other systems in an effort to quickly and easily navigate through hours and hours of footage and pinpoint potential threats and incidents of loss.
Technology exists that will bring the video data being collected together with specific transactions through the point-of-sale system, thereby streamlining the ability of loss prevention managers to target problems and aid investigations into instances of employee or customer theft or fraud, for example.
The simple truth is that the presence of video cameras isn’t enough to prevent crime; the use of the video being captured must be taken into account to reduce future threats. However, reducing risk with video can aid retailers in removing threats. For example, comprehensive video coverage can alert security officials to areas of a store that are more likely to be a target and help them analyze the modus operandi of shoplifters and bad employees. Store managers then can use the information gathered and evaluated through video to reorganize the store to prevent or at least detect risky behaviors. Video is a valuable tool for identifying problem areas and allowing leadership to quickly and efficiently address the issues before they become regular problems for
loss prevention managers. To keep problem areas to a minimum, complete store coverage can help identify safety hazards throughout a store, not just in areas with heavy foot traffic, aiding risk mitigation across the board.
Multiple Department Alignment
Today’s video is more useful than ever for a number of reasons. Video not only can be used in investigations related to shoplifting or organized retail crime (ORC), but also analyzed to allow information captured to be used for marketing, business operations, or fraud prevention purposes. For example, using analytics paired with a 360-degree panoramic view of a store’s entrance can show a heat map of the foot traffic coming through the door, showing how people navigate inside the store. Video data can also be used to gauge the impact of new displays, ad campaigns, and the
results of different store designs. Armed with this information, retail marketing professionals can better design marketing and merchandizing programs to direct foot traffic and increase sales. The great part about this kind of collaboration between departments is that the cost can be shared for the video equipment. In this example, both the marketing department and the loss prevention team benefit from the video
being captured, which means video system purchases can be spread across multiple departments of a business.
The growing trend toward retail analytics isn’t new, but advancing technologies and techniques, coupled with the many new opportunities they offer to retailers, continue to drive opportunities for increased intelligence and data capture. As mentioned above, heat mapping is one example of this kind of information gathering. Another emerging opportunity retailers have to use analytic information gathered through captured video data is through people counting and tracking applications. In one example, cameras situated above a cashier or register with a clear view of a line forming can count people waiting for a cashier and alert management when a certain number is reached, thereby triggering a call for more cashiers. This capability not only delivers the kind of response necessary to keep customers happy and interested in buying the merchandise they’re holding, but also steps up a retailer’s game with
regard to customer service. Instead of constantly assessing in-store traffic, store managers can spend time interacting with customers, solving bigger problems, and providing more support for employees.
Business Intelligence through Video Data
Companies are bringing together video data with transactional data from point-ofsale systems, which will help bring actionable insights to the big picture of retail sales. With so much of physical store-based retailing being based on hunches and assumptions, video analytics can provide real business intelligence and finally give the answers for which retailers have long been searching. That’s why the role of loss prevention teams is being viewed in a new light—as cost-savings centers rather than cost centers.
More Comprehensive Coverage with Fewer Cameras
Retailers face dwindling profits from brick-and-mortar stores, so when there’s an opportunity to achieve the same video coverage with fewer cameras, it’s good to get the cost savings. A single 360-degree camera can offer significant coverage at a fraction of the cost. Further cost savings can be realized since only a single software license is needed to operate the camera. It can take several traditional cameras pointed in specific directions to achieve the same level of coverage, which means
additional licenses and more bandwidth that must be purchased to save the footage captured. Retailers that still use pan-tilt-zoom cameras can benefit by having the same amount of coverage at considerably lower cost for both the cameras and the maintenance. Comprehensive store coverage enabled by just a few 360-degree cameras offers loss prevention managers the ability to track individuals throughout the store,
which is critically important when investigating instances of organized retail crime. This level of coverage also offers the ability to see everywhere at once. With traditional cameras, shoplifters and “bad” employees are able to figure out where the store’s blind spots are with regard to camera placement. Panoramic views from 360-cameras ensure there is nowhere to hide. Traditionally, cameras need to be moved around if there are changes in the locations of high-theft items or when signage is moved around. Complete coverage with 360-cameras offers retailers the ability to make changes in the store without consideration for the views from traditional cameras; everything is covered all the time. Along those same lines, equipping a new store with panoramic coverage is
easier since a store’s size and ceiling height can be calculated through software applications before installation begins to ensure the best possible camera placements throughout a location. And all of this can be done in a cost-effective and budgetconscious way to make operations and security leaders alike happy.
The Future of Retail
For as long loss prevention teams have been in place in brick-and-mortar retail stores, security investments have traditionally been seen as “grudge” purchases—that is, capital investments that don’t get a lot of ROI. But now, with solution providers breaking down these siloed departments that exist within the retail world, using video for not only loss prevention, but also marketing, business operations, and management, we’re seeing a shift in attitudes that is changing the face of retail altogether. Retailers now have the opportunity to gain a holistic view of the store as opposed
to only parts of it, building on the idea that complete coverage is the future of retail. Additionally, leveraging the same technology to meet varying needs is the way of the future for retail, and viewing each deployment as a comprehensive solution to a number of problems will best serve not only loss prevention managers but also entire organizations.
Written by Jumbi Edulbehram for Loss Prevention Magazine. You can find the original article here.