How to give your video system a tune up in time for the holidays.

Summer’s winding down.  The kids are back in school.  For retailers, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming holiday season.  Most of us in retail make or break our year during the fourth quarter.  It’s a time of increases - Store sales, inventory turn & employee head count.  It’s also a time of increased theft, from customers and employees.   It’s still early enough in the season to put a solid video-based loss prevention plan in place.  To follow are some insights on what to look for and what to do.

Where’s the risk?

Retail theft risk can be found in a number of locations.

Store entrances are an easy target for customer theft.  Unsecured front of store merchandise is at higher risk by thieves that can either snatch and run or create distractions and use the disruption to steal.

Cash registers are vulnerable to both shoplifting and employee theft.  Cash skimming is less prevalent these days, but the tactic of gifting merchandise to friends or accomplices is on the rise. 

Stock rooms and loading docks can also be vulnerable to theft by employees, delivery drivers & other vendors.  These areas are often unsupervised, giving thieves more time to orchestrate removal of bulk product. 

So, what can you do?

A solid video surveillance strategy is a key component of any loss prevention strategy.  Video increases the ability to detect and foil in-the-moment theft attempts by pinpointing suspicious behavior and alerting staff.  It provides valuable evidence and vulnerability insights when responding to incidents.  And, it acts as a natural deterrent against theft.  People often think twice before attempting a theft when they know that they are being recorded.  To follow is a good, better, best approach that you can build on.  

Good:  Configure your video to maximize surveillance coverage.  Multiple cameras are good, as the presence of the cameras themselves can act as a theft deterrent.  However, a smaller selection of wider view, higher resolution cameras can provide the same coverage. 

Better:  Add video analytics software to your video surveillance system.  Video analytics + full video coverage = an augmented security force:  By coupling a video analytics package with a full coverage video camera compliment retailers can:

  • Reduce theft
  • Increase recovery & prosecution
  • Augment the coverage of in-store security staff via exception/trigger alerts
  • Enable centralized LP staff to leverage their expertise across multiple locations/stores

Software packages like Avigilon’s self-learning video analytics enables retailers to set-up pattern-based analytics that can trigger exception alerting.  Examples of this may include:

  • Monitoring against shelf sweep tactics against high value goods on end-cap
  • Monitoring access to restricted areas

Exception alerting can route directly to in-store security or to centralized LP staff that cover multiple locations simultaneously. 

Best:  Integrate video analytics to your POS system.  POS data can be used to surface suspicious behavior like price switching, no sale cash drawer openings and unusual product returns.  By time stamping POS transactions on video, it becomes much easier to review suspicious activity, spot trends and quickly respond to incidents of employee theft.  Integrated systems enable managers to view video based on specific search criteria, and then view the video as well as employee POS keystrokes. 

Multiple studies demonstrate that theft loss runs 1 to 1.5% of retail sales.  A little over 1/3 of that is attributed to customer shoplifting and just under 1/3 is attributed to employee theft.  Most organizations that run the numbers find that a video surveillance system implementation or upgrade has a very attractive payback rate.  The time to improve your video system is before the holidays, not after.