Magazine Article | March 1, 2006

DVR Cuts Shrink, Crime For Restaurant Chain

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

A digital video recording system linked to the POS helps a pizza chain monitor employee behavior and deter crime.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, March 2006

Headquartered in Toronto, Pizza Pizza operates 354 pizzerias throughout the Canadian province of Ontario. About three years ago, management recognized a need to reduce shrink while increasing overall security in its stores. Derek Diaram, IT manager, and his staff were asked to find a solution that would allow the company to achieve these goals without straining its technology budget.

Diaram evaluated several options, but rejected them because of their prices. The company then opted to implement a digital video recorder (DVR) system from I3-DVR International, which had features comparable to the other solutions considered (for example, the ability to overlay captured images onto POS data maintained in an Oracle database), at less than half the price.

Each store has a camera component in the front and a digital recording device in the back room. The system operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Store managers review images on the spot whenever they deem it necessary. WAN connections (1.5 to 4 MB, depending on the store) allow district managers and individuals at corporate headquarters to monitor activity at individual units in real time, as well as to download images captured on and stored in the system.

"With the DVR technology, we really have a third eye, so to speak, and can investigate situations it wasn't possible to investigate before," Diaram observes. "For example, if someone notices too many voids from one register in the POS database, we can tap into the system and grab the video images as an overlay. If there's an incident in one of our stores, the district manager can ask to see all the images that were captured between specific times on a particular day. We can even put those images on a CD to review again or show the police."

Combine DVR With Internet To Improve Customer Service
Diaram says the solution has sparked a significant reduction in shrink. One reason this is so, he notes, is that the DVR serves as a deterrent against excessive voids and other fraudulent acts by employees at the point of sale. Just as significantly, the system's presence sends a message to would-be perpetrators that they will likely be apprehended should they try to commit any crime in the stores.

Pizza Pizza is also benefiting from using the technology in areas other than loss prevention. Specifically, district managers regularly log in to the system to view food preparation in the restaurants' kitchens. Problems are then addressed immediately, contributing to product quality assurance and minimizing customer complaints.

Recently, the use of the system for quality assurance purposes was expanded to include personnel at the chain's three call centers in Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa. Whenever one of these staff members fields a consumer complaint, he or she uses an Internet connection to the system to monitor the store in question and report back to management.

"All in all, deploying the DVR was the right move for us," Diaram concludes. "It's an effective loss prevention tool. And as far as quality assurance is concerned, it's superior to mystery shoppers."