From The Editor | January 20, 2011

Loss Prevention News From The 2011 NRF Conference & Expo

Serving Customers In The Eye Of The Storm

By Matt Pillar, editor in chief

At last week's NRF Conference & Expo, I met with about three dozen tech solutions providers before the threat of a New York City snowstorm shut down the airports and forced my colleagues and I to pack up and drive home. While many vendors in the LP space like to time their major product releases and announcements around the RILA LP, Auditing, & Safety Conference (April 11-14, Orlando) and/or the NRF LP Conference & Expo (June 13-15, Dallas), there was no shortage of LP/security news coming out of the 100th anniversary BIG Show. I'll recap a few of the announcements made in meetings I attended before the weather shut us down.

On a Sunday night dinner meeting with Agilence, VP of Product Strategy and Marketing Derek Rodner let me in on the company's latest win. Agilence landed a project to implement its Hawkeye POS video auditing software and professional services in nearly 600 Rite Aid stores. Rite Aid Group Vice President Robert Oberosler says the solution will fill the retailer's need to better analyze and react to loss at the POS. Hawkeye enables retailers to pull data directly from the POS system and integrate it with surveillance video in real-time. Individual item scans and keypunches within each transaction are synchronized with associated video images. Based on user-defined parameters, exceptions are identified and the correlated transaction and video data is provided to retailers for analysis.

I kicked off Monday morning with a press briefing hosted by Accu-Time Systems' VP of Marketing Larry Dawson. Accu-Time has for some time been manufacturing and marketing biometric human capital management equipment in its AccuTouch terminal line, but the technology used in the terminals took a giant leap forward in the company's latest release. Biometric human capital management devices are lauded for reducing payroll errors, providing visibility to employee trends, eliminating buddy punching, and optimizing the workforce. Unfortunately, traditional biometric technologies have been besieged by criticism of their accuracy and reliability. That criticism is being put to rest with new multispectral biometric technology from Lumidigm, which is now implemented in the AccuTouch. Multispectral biometric technology measures a finger's print measurement and its capillary structure to determine an individual's identification. Dawson demonstrated that devices enabled with the new tech will accurately identify grimy fingers, wet fingers, and fingers with compromised fingerprint characteristics. This greatly enhances read accuracy, especially in environments plagued by dirt and the elements. Best of all, the company is selling AccuTouch terminals with the new technology at the same price it sells its existing AccuTouch devices.

Later on Monday, I spent time with Direct Source President Brad Fick. Direct Source has made its mark as one of the premier store systems integrators in the retail space, and its LP expertise is one of its differentiators. In an age marked by retailers exploring the cross-disciplinary benefits of traditional LP technologies such as surveillance, Fick's company is well-positioned to help retailers realize the benefits of the convergence and integration of traditionally disparate technologies. The announcement that Direct Source is now offering the Next Level Security Systems (NLSS) product platform is another indicator that Fick and his company are committed to helping retailers run smarter through integration. The NLSS platform is designed to help retailers improve on many fronts by networking their security investments, enabling the correlation of security data from multiple subsystems including video management, access control, intrusion detection and video analytics. The browser-based NLSS platform allows Direct Source to offer its customers a single hardware and software solution that provides access to traditionally separate industry subsystems. It allows retailers to automate the provisioning and management of edge devices (cameras, DVRs, etc.) and access analytics-based reporting remotely and on mobile devices.

On the cash control front, Tellermate continues to innovate with its T-iX weight-based cash counting machine. Again, integration and automation are keys to the company's proposition – where traditional cash control devices have operated in stand-alone capacity, the T-iX features connectivity to retailers' back office IT systems, enabling the transfer of data directly to the back office for analysis. This feature allows retailers to identify and act on discrepancies before they become chalked up as loss. At a Tuesday morning meeting over breakfast, Tellermate's Elizabeth Veronneau agreed to detail the benefits of integrated retail cash management in an upcoming guest articles series. Stay tuned to for those pieces.

The products on display at the ADT booth demonstrate the company's continued commitment to the cross-disciplinary benefits of integrated surveillance and security systems. Lee Pernice, director of retail marketing there, walked me through the company's latest hardware offerings. ADT is tying cameras, intelligent people counters, and both traditional and RFID-based EAS tags together to provide retailers with custom security, traffic, merchandising, and inventory intelligence. Some of the technology advances these integrated devices feature include stereo traffic analysis that enables, among other things, height and group discrimination in video-based traffic counting, and directional functionality of EAS tags that greatly reduces false alarms. Data from all of the above will be available for analysis via a single reporting portal.

Increasingly, logical and data security are falling under the auspices of retail LP and security departments, making the mitigation of risk to transaction data your concern. The prevalence of wireless networks in stores adds to the complexity of data security, but wireless intrusion prevention solutions (WIPS) provider AirTight Networks seeks to eliminate the risk of wireless network breaches. At the show, Mike Baglietto, director of product marketing there, announced that Modell's Sporting Goods had chosen the AirTight SpectraGuard WIPS to meet PCI DSS wireless scanning requirements and protect is Motorola WLAN infrastructure and wireless POS system from intrusion. Modell's recently invested heavily in its handheld wireless POS system, distributed across 147 locations. The SpectraGuard solution provides Modell's with automated protection, centralized management, and automated reporting. To underscore the threat, Tony Roman, director of network technology for Modell's, said that during the retailer's initial testing period at its headquarters, as many as ten violations of its corporate security policy were identified.

This is but a sampling of the LP/security news to come out of last week's show. To read more show news, be sure to visit our NRF 2011 Resource Center here.