From The Editor | January 17, 2013

The Top Trends In Retail Loss Prevention

Bob Johns, associate editor

By Bob Johns, associate editor

Retailers continue struggling to cope with organized retail crime, internal theft, returns fraud, and general shoplifting while having fewer associates on the floor due to budget constraints. That’s why loss prevention (LP) is still a huge focus for retailers as new technologies and methods are introduced. Here we discuss some of the top trends taking place in retail loss prevention with Lee Pernice, Tyco Integrated Security’s director of business development.

  • Enhanced public view monitors — “Public view monitors are nothing new to retail, having been at entrances and various points throughout stores for years. However, we are seeing retailers adding small, shelf- and eye-level monitors in high theft areas,” Pernice explains. When people are walking by, the monitors will play commercials or other media, but when a customer stops at the shelf, the monitor will switch to a split-screen view, adding the LP camera live feed showing the customer at the shelf with a red “recording” button flashing. “Once these people see themselves on camera through an ‘in your face’ monitor, the ones considering theft are much more likely to move on to an easier target away from your store,” Pernice says.
  • Analytics — “Over the past few years as IP video has become more widely adopted, video analytics have really moved to the forefront of retailers’ minds,” Pernice notes. Retailers now have access to heat mapping, traffic counting, conversion rates, sales data, facial recognition, POS exceptions, and much more in real time. Never before have retailers had direct access to so much information on who was in their store, when, and what they purchased, or didn’t. “A store manager can instantly see how many people are in his store to not only control theft, but to aid in customer service by adding more staff at the appropriate times. When they previously only used sales data, only half of the picture was there. The lost sales opportunities never make it to the POS data,” she explains.
  • RFID — “RFID is something else that is not new to retail, but it has come a long way in both cost and use cases,” Pernice says. “Retailers now have the ability to dual tag items to incorporate RFID into the EAS system. They can choose to use RFID-only tags on low theft items to track inventory levels, while using the dual-tag technology on high-theft items. This way every item is monitored to make inventory and cycle counting faster and more accurate, but the high-theft items are still protected without having to add a second tag.” The nice thing about modern tagging technology is that retailers can choose whether to use RFID in conjunction with EAS or only on part of the inventory. They do not have to choose one system and risk limiting the capabilities.
  • Integration and corporate access — “For years it has been nearly impossible for home-office personnel to verify compliance with LP regulations without going directly to the store. Now with a massive migration to cloud storage, corporate has complete access to all of the video and analytics they need, right from their desktops,” Pernice notes. LP directors have long had to travel extensively to conduct audits, verify POS exceptions, and review alarm conditions. Now through the use of cloud technology they have the ability to bring up all of that information and review it live with the store manager. With the IP video, POS exceptions, traffic data, and analytics integrated on one user interface, the time it takes to conduct these inquiries is dramatically reduced. Pernice comments, “As the cost of storage has come down and retailers are more comfortable moving sensitive data to a secure cloud platform, the adoption of cloud-based LP technology has exploded. When you add in the reduced travel and the time savings for corporate personnel, the migration to the cloud can impact the retailer’s bottom line almost immediately.”

By using emerging technologies and capitalizing on the technologies retailers already have implemented, loss prevention can move forward as a cost-saver for a company and a time-saver for its personnel.