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Three steps to take before equipping frontline retail workers with body cameras

retail workers

Over the past year, frontline associates have seen in-store theft and violence increase whether they work at big-box retail chains or smaller shops. or smaller shops. 

In fact, findings from a survey we conducted at my company Axonify found that 70% of frontline retail managers say they or their staff have noticed an increase in theft during the last year, and 85% see theft and customer violence as larger industry issues. These concerns combined are causing two-in-five frontline workers to fear going into work on a daily basis.

To better protect their workers, retailers are experimenting with new ways to prevent theft while keeping staff and customers safe. Some examples include increasing security personnel, locking up items that are most likely to be stolen or rolling out body cameras. Companies are introducing this type of technology to retail workers in hopes of deterring incidents of theft and violence and boosting transparency. 

But before these cameras — or any new piece of technology — are introduced, retailers need to deliver adequate training to frontline workers to make sure they have the knowledge and confidence to safely and effectively use it.

To better understand how to enable and train associates, let’s take a look at how body cameras are currently being used in retail locations and how employers can ensure they’re taking the proper steps before implementing this technology in their stores.

The use of body cameras in retail today

Frontline retail workers in the U.K. have already started testing body cameras in stores. For instance, grocery chains Waitrose, Co-op and Tesco (who report that every month, around 200 employees experience physical assaults on the job) have been steadily implementing body camera technology to combat theft and other crimes, helping lay the groundwork for potential adoption in the U.S. and other countries.

Although the rollout of these cameras has been slower in the U.S., some stores have begun experimenting over the past few years. For example, when Walmart began expanding its at-home delivery service in 2022, its delivery personnel wore body cameras to ensure safe and adequate deliveries inside customers’ homes.

Now that body camera technology is becoming more advanced and discreet, it’s likely that more retailers may implement it as part of their loss prevention strategy. While the technology is exciting, retailers must prioritize the necessary training, communication and guidelines for frontline workers before they step out on the floor with this technology.

Why frontline associate training is integral before new tech, like body cameras

While body cameras are an emerging tool generating attention, incorporating them into daily work is understandably daunting for retail staff. To help ease workers into the application of this technology, retailers must ensure that teams are equipped with the proper training, can access the right channels of communication and have concrete guidelines on how to use these tools properly and effectively.

So, how can retailers do this in a way that’s scalable and repeatable?

Offer in-depth, continuous training: Although most frontline retail associates have different levels of experience, newer technology like body cameras are likely one area where all workers will need up-to- date, in-depth training. Whether the training is through learning modules or simulations (so workers can better understand the look and feel of wearing them), retailers must ensure this training is ongoing and accessible so workers can build their confidence and comfort using body cameras and make sure the training is updated on a regular basis to account for changing rules and regulations.

Create an open dialogue with workers: With any new workplace initiative or implementation,
questions and concerns should be expected. To prepare, retailers should proactively organize staff meetings, set up anonymous feedback channels and ask workers direct questions about their honest thoughts and feedback. By opening up different channels of communication and requesting candid feedback about ways that training could be improved, its overall effectiveness and where any gaps exist, retailers are setting their teams up for a successful and safe implementation.

Develop guidance and procedures around using new technology: When frontline workers are unsure how to use new technology, misuse or avoidance is more likely. To prevent this, retailers should develop concrete guidelines around how body cameras work, including best practices and frequently asked questions, so associates have an accessible, up-to-date resource to reference when they need a real-time refresher, in addition to being able to ask their managers.

As retail crime remains an issue for stores nationwide, companies will continue to search for new tools and technologies to keep associates and customers safe. By taking proactive steps to build workers’ skills and confidence using tech like body cameras, retailers can ensure it’s effective, and most importantly, its safe use.


Christine Tutssel is the co-founder of Axonify, a frontline enablement solution that gives employees everything they need to learn, connect and get things done. With an 83% engagement rate, companies use Axonify to deliver next-level customer experience, higher sales, improved workplace safety and lower turnover. Founded in 2011, Axonify is headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario.

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