Technology solutions can help prevent retail theft this holiday season

The holidays are fast approaching and there is a feeling of in the air Shopping.

Experts predict more consumers will gravitate to physical stores this holiday season for the in-person experience they’ve been missing out on due to COVID-19. In addition to preparing for an influx of shoppers, brick-and-mortar stores today face an increasing risk of shoplifting.

New data from the US Chamber of Commerce notes that 56% of small retailers have experienced theft in stores over the past year, and half of retailers say the problem increases during the holiday season. To combat the rise in theft and protect customers, employees and valuables, here are technology solutions that can help retailers create a safe and enjoyable holiday shopping environment.

Video security cameras with embedded analytics detect incidents

Video surveillance cameras have been significantly improved in quality and equipped with additional features to provide better visibility and insight into activities across the store. They record high-quality videos and monitor the premises at all times, even after hours.

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

Video surveillance cameras are widely used in retail and are one of the most effective tools to catch thieves. You can detect a person’s movement near a checkout, entrances, high traffic areas, and even a door or window, and detect when the store is closed, and then send an alarm to the security center or devices to send real-time notifications react.

Video security solutions are available both on-premises and in the cloud. On-prem is installed locally on the store’s computers and servers, while cloud software is hosted on a third-party server and accessed through a web browser. The cloud is a great option for retailers to minimize a system’s physical footprint, reduce deployment costs, and simplify long-term maintenance.

Access control systems protect valuable goods and assets

Today’s access control systems allow for expanded capabilities and functions than simply letting people through doors.Advanced systems include real-time data and access notifications for store managers, reducing response times when alerted to incidents.

These systems provide remote management capabilities to allow administrator access from anywhere via cloud-based platforms, emergency lockdown capabilities, and integration with other technology solutions such as video security cameras.

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

The frenzy of Christmas shopping and the focus on attentive customer service can mean accidentally leaving a door open to a back office, dock or storage room where extra goods and valuables are stored. Access control systems automatically trigger a notification to staff radios that the door must be closed to deter theft.

Two-way radios connect employees

Retailers rely on push-to-talk radios for instant and reliable group communications between diverse teams and departments to ensure store safety, staff efficiency and customer service. For example, when employees are dealing with an angry customer, they can instantly radio their managers and team members over the air that they need help.

In other cases, shoplifters can create a diversion, such as starting an argument with an employee while their accomplice is stealing goods. Team members who are at any point dealing with a difficult customer can use radios to call for help.

POS systems can be integrated with video surveillance cameras

Theft can also be internal. The most common way employees steal products is by hiding them in personal belongings or in dumpsters and then retrieving them from the dumpster. Another common example of theft is colluding with a customer by voiding transactions at checkout but still keeping the items in bags.

By integrating point-of-sale (POS) systems with video surveillance cameras, store managers can easily access and review specific transaction data by date, time or cashier, see what’s happening at each location, including customer interactions, and root out possible internal fraud. Managers can simultaneously review transaction data and related video footage to confirm suspicions and mitigate future losses.

Body-worn cameras de-escalate violent situations

Body-worn cameras can deter unruly behavior and provide insight into incidents when the holidays aren’t as merry and bright. Body-worn cameras on employees are a powerful deterrent to abuse and can help prevent stressful situations from escalating. When they do, the video provides objective evidence.

It’s the “happiest season” of all

What is actually the best time of the year, also for retailers, is often stressful due to the increased risk of theft and violence against employees. Technology solutions are a critical step forward for retailers who face security risks every day.

Taking this one step further, the integration of often siled solutions offers even more benefits. For example, access control devices can detect when a door to a dock is open, send an alert to staff radios, and allow them to pull video from cameras to determine if incidents have occurred.

If body worn cameras are activated during a confrontation with a dissatisfied customer, the live video feed can be displayed on a video management system and automatically alert security personnel or supervisors.

Installing and integrating technology solutions allows retailers and their staff to focus on delivering exceptional customer service without worrying about security and protection for a merrier holiday shopping season.

Sharon Hong is Vice President of Enterprise Technology at Motorola Solutions

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