From The Editor | August 16, 2013

LP Technology — Adding Value To All Of Retail


By Bob Johns

IP video and other LP technologies are creating cross-operational benefits for many retailers, which can lead to an incredibly quick ROI.

Technology in retail is evolving quickly, and this is forcing the loss prevention (LP) executive to change with it. LP is not all “cops and robbers” anymore; it is about hi-res video, analytics, exception reporting, inventory tracking, merchandising, and customer service. Comm-Works, a global technology integrator, recently announced the appointment of its first-ever director of IP video and security, Kevin Searight, to bridge the LP and IT gap for retailers.

“It is all about understanding what is really going on in the retail environment,” Searight says. “It is not enough to just have POS transactional data. All this does is tell you what was sold.” Searight continues to explain that retailers are increasingly looking to LP-based technology to understand the store environment and the customers. IP video is a large part of the equation, especially when paired with video analytics.

“We know that a lot of the technology deployments are driven by more than just the LP department, and they need IT to help get the projects off the ground,” Searight says. COmm-Works will work directly with the retailer to determine all of the possible benefits of a project to achieve the quickest ROI possible. “When we look at an IP video project, we look at merchandising, HR, operations, traffic counting by departments, POS integration for conversion calculations, WFM optimization, staffing levels, line-busting, dwell time, and of course theft prevention and investigation,” explains Searight. “The meeting is no longer with just the LP director. Heads of every department are there.”

More than ever before, brick-and-mortar retailers face challenges from all sides with lower consumer loyalty, decreased margins, increased competition, online-only retailers, organized retail crime (ORC), and a sluggish economy.  These retailers are coming to rely on technology to help conquer all of these challenges, and at the forefront are LP technologies.

The LP director is now sitting at the table with CEOs, CMOs, operations managers, and CIOs to discuss how new technologies can help each department. In a recent story on Northern Tool & Equipment, LP manager Todd Gulbranson was able to get his IP video project approved and implemented without ever presenting any LP benefits to the board. His presentation focused on all of the cross-operational benefits, and how the product could boost sales and customer satisfaction. “With the tools Comm-Works is able to offer, what we do for retailers matters,” Searight says. “We can have a significant impact on how the retailer performs and how their brand is perceived. LP technologies touch the entire enterprise, and while theft prevention and investigation are a large part of the LP executive’s job, the benefits they provide to every department are going to be the key to the overall health of the retailer.”

Retail theft is over $40 billion annually, so it remains a focus as retailers fight ORC, shoplifting, and internal theft. Controlling shrink is a part of the LP executive’s duties that can translate directly to the bottom line. Leveraging the technologies available now and emerging technologies in the future will only serve to cement the role of LP in retail. “LP is no longer a guy in a room watching a black-and-white monitor from a camera mounted behind a mirror in the corner,” Searight says. “They are technologically astute people who track data more than anything else. The incorporation of video analytics and POS integration has changed the way LP personnel operate, and has also increased their value to the companies.”