Risky business: Keeping stores safe
Keeping stores safe and secure and reducing the risk of criminal incidents has always been a top retail priority. But with the increased threat of risk — from robberies to more shocking incidents, such as active shooters — retailers are taking more proactive steps to mitigate threats on a larger scale.
“Throughout all of our design efforts, from new buildings to retro-builds, we need to make decisions that will mitigate risk,” Patrick McEvoy said at the SPECS session, “Risky Business: Keeping Stores Safe and Secure.” McEvoy is senior director of asset protection at Hudson’s Bay Co., whose banners include Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue.
One area McEvoy pays significant attention to is how the company highlights its high-end merchandise. When creating in-store displays, the company’s designers and architects need to keep products protected but still accessible to customers. This requires McEvoy and his team to rethink the perimeter and identify potential areas of risk both during and after stores’ operating hours.
As a result, the company uses a layered approach toward physical security, which features a combination of glass, cameras and bollards.
“The combination mitigates our exposure to risk,” McEvoy said. “And if we do our job well enough, the criminals will not target our store and move on.”
For example, when protecting luxury handbags or merchandise in the jewelry department, layered glass is used for store windows and sales floor displays. The heavier glass is difficult to shatter, making it harder for criminals to complete the job.
In its quest to deter criminals, HBC realizes it also needs to present a comfortable, safe environment for its customers, but not one that promotes “a negative reaction.” One method used to achieve this goal is security cameras. While the solution can be described as “a necessary evil, it doesn’t have to be an eyesore,” McEvoy said. “But it does have to help protect our operations and customers.”
As a result, it positions an IP-based camera system in locations with high rates of loss, or “where we need resolution,” McEvoy said.
The system consists of panoramic cameras that provide the retailer with a 360-degree view of the sales floor. As the cameras transmit data, integrated analytics keeps the company informed of anomalies or incidents worth investigating.
“These solutions also come in handy as the retail landscape becomes more litigious,” McEvoy said. “Now if we need to evaluate a ‘slip and fall’ insurance claim, for example, the incident is caught on video, giving us the evidence need to analyze the claim.”
Hudson’s Bay is also cognizant of the threat of active shootings. To keep customers and associates safe, the company is merging its IP-based cameras with acoustic gunshot detection platforms. Integrated with a combination of strategically dispersed acoustic, optical and other sophisticated sensors and microphones, dedicated software collects and measures ranges of impulsive, explosive sounds, helping the retailer define the scope of illegal gunfire.
The solution is currently deployed in its flagship Saks Fifth Avenue location in New York City.
“There are a lot of new pieces to risk and security, including how to keep customers safe if there is an active shooter within the store, and where are those safe areas,” McEvoy said. “We have a duty to care for our customers and associates, and we need the solutions and training that will help us do that.”