Your company works hard for its profit. How well are you protecting it?
I stood in awe at a convenience store the other day as the cashier walked away from an open cash drawer she couldn't get to stay closed. Above the register, a surveillance camera barely clung to the wall, its frayed wires exposed through a hole in the drywall. I could have made off with my chocolate milk, a free tank of gas, and a wad of cash, but I'm not that kind of guy.
This incident made me recall a dinner I recently enjoyed with Hedgie Bartol and Terrie Ipson, business development and marketing folks from Diebold. Everyone knows Diebold as the major U.S. bank safe and ATM (automated teller machine) provider. But as we dined, Hedgie and Terrie shared the rationale for the banking vendor's recent push into retail. Retail, they say, is a ripe market for security products because retailers' security efforts are by and large lacking, disjointed, or both. I agree, and I wished I'd had Terrie's business card to hand to that convenience store's manager.
Technology Enables Seamless Security
The chasm between retail LP (loss prevention) and IT people is closing as technology improves traditional methods of security. Retailers should therefore quit viewing the two as separate entities and adopt a holistic view of their storefront technology and security initiatives. Security solution providers like Diebold, which offers a suite of products far advanced from the heavy-duty safes that made the company famous for protecting bank assets in the Great Chicago Fire, can help retailers do this. In designing a holistic approach to security, retailers should certainly take cash and asset protection and storage into account first. But beyond cash management, you should consider premise security, access control and alarm systems, surveillance and CCTV (closed circuit television) solutions, security network monitoring, and exception reporting at the POS, and integrate these where applicable.
Building and managing a holistic security solution has become easier, thanks to advances in network technology and digital video. Let's look at how an LP manager might be able to identify the danger that looms every time the cashier in that C-store leaves her cash drawer open. A networked, IP (Internet Protocol)-addressed cash drawer could send an alert, or exception report, via e-mail to a manager anytime the drawer is left open longer than a predesignated amount of time. A CCTV system employing DVR (digital video recorder) technology integrated with the POS would allow an LP manager to investigate the incident by transaction number or time of day. That manager could even view digital video of the event. Then corrective measures could be taken with both the employee and the faulty cash drawer.
Northeastern C-store Sheetz takes proactive security management a step further. Its automated system allows LP personnel in its networked, centralized security operations center to see store-level activity live via DVR when an alarm is tripped. In our February 2005 issue, we featured this March Networks DVR installation. This kind of LP management is driven by IT and becoming more affordable as both network and hardware prices fall. There's no room for lax security or piecemeal LP solutions, especially now that there are solution providers offering total security and LP design, implementation, and management packages.