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Technology Solutions Can Help Deter Retail Theft this Holiday Season

Video cameras can help stop store shrink.

The holidays are fast approaching and in the air, there’s a feeling of shopping.

This holiday season, experts predict more consumers will gravitate towards physical stores for the in-person experience they missed because of COVID-19. In addition to preparing for an influx of shoppers, brick-and-mortar stores today face an increasing threat of shoplifting.

New data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce finds that 56% of small retail businesses have experienced theft in stores this past year, and half of retailers say the issue increases during the holiday season. To combat rising theft and protect customers, employees and valuables, here are technology solutions that can help retailers create a safe and joyful holiday shopping environment.

Video security cameras with embedded analytics detect incidents  

Video security cameras have undergone significant improvements in quality and added features to provide greater visibility and insights into activity throughout the store. They capture high-quality video and monitor the premises at all times, even after hours.

The analytics embedded within video cameras help detect potential threats and through the use of advanced analytics, video security cameras can increase productivity of security personnel, while making monitoring more efficient.

Video security cameras are commonly found in retail and are one of the most effective tools for catching thieves. They can identify and detect motion of a person near a register, entrances, heavily-trafficked areas and even a door or window when the store is closed, then send an alarm to the security operations center or devices for real-time response.

Video security solutions are available both on-premise or in the cloud. On-prem is installed locally, on the store’s computers and servers, while cloud software is hosted on a third-party provider’s server and accessed via a web browser. Cloud is a great option for retailers to minimize the physical footprint of a system, lower the cost of deployment and simplify long-term maintenance. 

Access control systems protect high-value merchandise and assets

Today’s access control systems enable more advanced capabilities and features than simply letting people through doors. Advanced systems include real-time data and access notifications for store managers and reduce response times when alerted to incidents.

These systems provide remote management capabilities to allow administrator access from anywhere through cloud-based platforms, lockdown capabilities in case of emergencies, and integration with other technology solutions like video security cameras.

Theft of targeted or high-value merchandise in the stock room can be reduced by restricting access to authorized personnel. For example, placing high-end merchandise like designer purses, shoes and jewelry in a specific and secure area with access control solutions, managers can be notified of attempted theft and view video footage for details.

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and focus on providing attentive customer service can mean a door to a back office, dock or stock room is accidentally left propped open, where additional goods and valuables are stored. Access control systems will automatically trigger a notification to staff radios for the door to be closed to deter theft from occurring.

Radio devices connect associates

Retailers rely on push-to-talk radio devices for instant and reliable group communications across different teams and departments for store safety, staff efficiency and customer service. For example, when dealing with an irate customer, employees can use radios to immediately notify their managers and team members that they require assistance.

In other cases, shoplifters may create a diversion, like starting an argument with an employee, while their accomplice steals merchandise. Team members who are dealing with a difficult customer at any point, can use radio devices to request assistance.

POS systems integrate with video security cameras

Theft can also be internal. The most common way employees steal products is by hiding them in personal items or in trash containers and retrieving them from the dumpster afterwards. Colluding with a customer by voiding transactions at the register, but still placing the items in bags, is another common example of theft.

Integrating point-of-sale (POS) systems with video security cameras allows store managers to easily access and review specific transactional data by date, time or cashier, see what’s happening at every location, including customer interactions, and root out possible internal fraud. Managers can simultaneously review transaction data and associated video footage to confirm suspicions and mitigate future loss.

Body-worn cameras de-escalate violent situations

Body-worn cameras can deter unruly behavior and provide insight into incidents when the holidays are not so merry and bright. Body-worn cameras on employees are a strong deterrent to abuse and can help keep stressful situations from escalating. When they do, the video provides objective evidence.

It’s the ‘hap-happiest season’ of all

What should be the most wonderful time of the year, even for retailers, is often stressful due to an increased risk of theft and violence against employees. Technology solutions are a crucial step forward for retailers who face security risks each and every day.

Taking it a step further, integrating often siloed solutions provides enhanced benefits. For example, access control devices can detect when a door to a dock is propped open, sending an alert to employee radios and allowing them to pull video camera footage to determine if any incidents took place.

When body-worn cameras are activated during a confrontation with an unhappy customer, the live video feed can display on a video management system and automatically notify security personnel or supervisors.

The installation and integration of technology solutions allows retailers and their employees to focus on providing exceptional customer service without worrying about safety and security for a more joyful holiday shopping season.

Sharon Hong is VP of enterprise technology, Motorola Solutions

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