Dealer Profile: Dolce&Gabbana Gives Products and Security the Best Light

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have made a trademark of their surnames, known throughout the world by the D&G moniker. A Dolce&Gabbana retail store is a star in its own rights—vast expanses of windows, glass display cases, wide aisles and other elements of store design that help sell product also make it a challenge to provide effective CCTV security at the protected premises.

The average security camera can’t cope with bright sunlight streaming into the store and glass displays. Analog CCD cameras can’t adjust to both highlights and shadows in the same scene—images are overexposed in bright areas and underexposed in dark ones. One of the worst-case scenarios for a retail security director is to have a video recording of shoplifters, but no actionable images because the suspected thieves are standing in the glare of a display case.

John Spirko, director of Asset Protection for Dolce&Gabbana was determined to avoid this scenario. Responsible for protecting the retail outlets, he is always looking for ways to improve his video security systems. With 116 stores and 17 factory outlets, he has lots of unique and expensive merchandise to protect.

High profile protection and detection
“Since our price points are high,” explained Spirko, “we needed to drastically improve the viewing and recording of stores’ activities. We had a number of challenges with some cameras because of excessive glare from our large storefront windows.” He turned to WG Security Products Inc., San Jose, Calif., who also provides electronic article surveillance (EAS) for Dolce&Gabbana.

WG was established more than a decade ago and has steadily grown to a worldwide presence. According to Ed Wolfe, WG’s vice president of Business Development, the current business mix is 70 percent EAS and 30 percent video. “It’s important for us to provide good service on both sides of the business. As happened here, EAS will often pull through business for video and vice versa,” he said.

WG said retail accounts for 95 percent of its business. “We are committed to our retail customers,” explained Gary Fraser, vice president of Sales for WG. “Retail stores have difficulty obtaining quality security video because of lighting challenges. Dolce&Gabbana’s issues are not uncommon; many stores have all-glass storefronts, so the lighting will change significantly as the day progresses. Weather can also be a factor since clouds and storms affect the lighting in the store. Couple this with glare from jewelry cases and you can understand why securing a retail location is not as simple as throwing up a few cameras and a DVR. Care has to be used to select the right equipment,” Fraser said.

Beverly Hills flagship specification
WG provided several cameras for Spirko and his team to review. Spirko selected the Clinton Electronics indoor color dome and box cameras powered by Pixim’s Digital Pixel System technology. Unlike traditional image-capture technologies, Pixim’s patented technology empowers hundreds of thousands of pixels to act like individual cameras constantly self-adjusting. This all-digital system enables Pixim-powered cameras to efficiently capture the whole picture, regardless of lighting conditions.

Accurate color is also critical in retail environments; for example you would never want to mistake the suspect in the red shirt for the customer in the brown shirt. “We discovered that the Pixim-powered cameras provided unsurpassed resolution,” continued Spirko. “The wide dynamic range made possible through the camera chips properly addressed our lighting issues, enabling the video images produced by the cameras to be of the highest quality. The color in the images was natural and realistic.”

Dolce&Gabbana’s flagship boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills was the first site deployment. “Selecting the right cameras for Dolce&Gabbana was an important first step,” Fraser said, “but each location is unique and we needed to find the cameras that would work best for each store.”

The store’s loss prevention staff uses the cameras to observe live video and review past incidents. Cameras are integrated into the store’s burglar alarm system and monitor video on alarm. This system ensures that the cameras record activity even when the store is closed.

Though primarily installed for loss prevention, the cameras also play an important role in managing day-to-day activities. The store manager observes the activities of the sales team on and off the sales floor, while corporate uses the cameras to remotely review compliance to merchandise presentation standards.

Here’s what WG Security products installed at the Dolce&Gabbanna store:

  • 13 Clinton CE-955-CAM-WD color dome cameras in black
  • Pixim’s Digital Pixel System technology embedded in cameras
  • 1 ClickIt 32-channel DVR

Some retailers want everyone to know they are being monitored and recorded. This knowledge can be a huge crime deterrent. Typically, these merchants will benefit from public view monitors and larger, more obvious cameras. However, other retailers (typically high-end stores like Dolce&Gabbana highlighted in this case study) prefer discreet systems. They understand the need for video, but do not want to remind their customers of it unless absolutely necessary.

About the author: Tracey Hups is the manager of Worldwide Marketing for Pixim Inc., Mountain View, Calif.