Retail Security: How Biometrics, Video Analytics and other Innovation Cut Losses and Boost Performance

Retail crime hit a 10-year high in the 2013-14 financial year, with £603m losses recorded by UK retailers 18% higher than those racked up in the previous 12 months.

The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual crime survey revealed that conventional security technology – primarily CCTV and electronic product tags – has been effective at reducing petty shoplifting, a surge in gang-related bulk theft is soaring.

The average value of goods, money or services stolen now averages £241 per incident.

Clearly, the security industry must evolve its approach to tackle this growing threat.

We asked several security experts how the industry is harnessing the latest cutting-edge technology to improve not only retail security, but commercial performance too.

Why do we lock and protect our buildings when they are empty, but not take advantage of technology-based precautions when our most valuable assets – our staff – are there? – Mikkel Loecke Winther, Sr. Product Manager, Milestone Systems

We are seeing retail analytics offerings being absorbed into IP video management systems (VMS) that are now being deployed much more widely on the shop floor, as well as in warehouses and distribution centres.

We see many retailers with a desire to video-enable their business processes and gain more insight using both simple and advanced analytics solutions. They are also using other business-enabling technologies such as sensors and other input devices such as access control and access monitoring and more.

Retailers often have very diverse solutions, stitched together by many technologies. The goal is to have these solutions working together, preferably under one user interface with a uniform user experience.

As an industry we have to look beyond our own offerings and consider the customer’s needs. Video management solutions should integrate with POS devices, retail analytics solutions, transaction systems, ERP and warehouse management and any other devices or solutions the retailer wants.

Heat mapping software can determine areas of high footfall. Managers can use this intelligence to improve store layouts and negotiate better deals with suppliers when offering premium display locations, for example. Heat maps can also be cross-referenced with till receipt data to confirm that specific layout or stock changes are feeding through to increased sales figures.

IP video systems are now being used to generate real-time alerts when queues exceed pre-defined thresholds. Using simple analytics such as people counting, queues can be predicted and, in most cases, avoided.

Mikkel Loecke-Winther, Milestone Product Mgr

We must continue to build a strong eco-system of accredited partners to give retailers the flexibility to select best-of-breed retail solutions which meet their unique needs.

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