Even with heavy investments in security technology, retail loss and shrinkage is still proving to be an issue for retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, inventory shrink totaled $44 billion in losses for retailers in 2014. Retail loss prevention cameras are a requirement for businesses these days – not because they necessarily prevent theft from occurring, but because they allow business owners and managers to review incidents and gather evidence after theft has occurred.
Identifying the various sources of loss and shrink can be daunting. Return fraud is difficult to detect, as is “sweethearting” (deliberate employee theft or fraud) at the register. Utilizing cameras – as well as other physical security measures like RFID and electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags – has helped with inventory shrinkage.
However, retailers need to start thinking about other uses for cameras within the four walls of their businesses. Many retail loss prevention cameras are nothing more than recording devices, but newer options make it easy for cameras to also track customer statistics and provide in-store analytics for business owners. These solutions combine analytics software, video cameras, and in-store sensors to provide accurate, real-time data about store traffic and sales.
Newer cameras, which can detect specific movements and activities, can be used to assess basic motion/movement, queue lengths, dwell times, and customer traffic patterns. We have reached a point where most of the technologies we own have multiple purposes – cell phones, for example, are also cameras, computers, and much more. It is time to ensure that loss prevention cameras are maximizing their value for retailers.
Data is more important than ever before, and cameras are perfect for collecting information about all the customers in every section of a store – at all times. While this might seem a little bit like Big Brother at first, in-store analytics can be used to benefit both the retailer and the customers. Managers can assess lines/queues and have the right employees on hand to handle busier days or times. In-store analytics create a more holistic understanding of traffic patterns can help owners identify and eliminate bottlenecks.
As for benefits to the retailers themselves, in-store analytics can be tied into promotions and sales in order to assess and improve effectiveness. Dwell times – how long customers stay in certain areas of the store – should be used when framing the locations of promotions within the store. Also, after a sale has concluded, owners can see how the sale impacted dwell times within the store.
Analytics systems – which go hand in hand with retail loss prevention cameras – can help measure sales conversions, more effectively deploy staff, and improve register wait times and dwell times. That same data can help identify suspicious behavior in the store before merchandise is stolen. These systems can also help note when there may be employee return fraud (if a customer is not present during the transaction), and note if a shopper is trying to enter a restricted area or move in an unexpected or wrong direction.
Retailers will always experience a certain amount of loss or shrink, but by combining in-store analytics solutions with traditional video surveillance and other technologies, stores can more quickly identify and stop theft, spot employee fraud, and implement strategies that will further justify the ROI and open up new areas of profitability.