Shops Shun Shrink

SSI targets retailers with digital loss prevention efforts

A somewhat different tactic is taken with employee theft. There, retailers are better advised to deploy a covert product to capture employee activities, like workers taking money from the till or sticking goods into their lockers.

Parking lots also will benefit from digital. “The use of infrared technology has gotten better,” Vogel said. “People expect that level of security when they are in the parking lots after being in the establishment.”

Whether it is the property manager or the retailer, deploying megapixel technology is getting cheaper. “The expense to monitor the exterior perimeter is going down. They can replace two to five cameras to cover the same area,” Vogel said. These can be simple units rather than PTZs.


The big retail picture: making strides

Beyond technology, there are areas where retailers are moving forward, too.

Vendors and retailers often participate in a proactive system called Crimedex, which is like Facebook for criminals. This allows retailers to upload known shoplifters and thieves to a central database that can be shared with law enforcement and other retailers without violating privacy laws.

“Retail customers are looking to create a safe shopping environment for their customers while protecting themselves from ORC (organized retail crime) groups who steal millions of dollars of profit from retailers,” Flowers said.

Flowers said retailers get excited about high-resolution megapixel video that allows for greater detail and video quality while utilizing analytics for POS integration, facial recognition and activity detection.

SSI consistently integrates video with POS, access control and other analytics like facial recognition and object movement, Flowers said. Since this is a bit “out of the box” for many retailers, they provide training so the customer understands how to maximize the technology.

Expect retail customers to want storage. In many cases, a retail chain will look beyond the short-term bust and collect data on so-called boosters. The immediate loss might be five Coach-brand bags. However, security will wait until the shoplifters hit a store in another county—where the courts are stricter—to make the bust there.

It is important to allow the retailer to archive that video efficiently to build a case.

Good defense can stave off the need to go to court. Retailers are looking at their public-view monitors (those big TVs at store entrances) as subtle warnings that the store is monitored. Bad guys know the store has a good face shot of everyone who entered.

However, thefts do not occur every hour. Retailers can capitalize on the value of their monitors by advertising when there is no activity. Rather than having the monitor near the perfume counters go blank, for example, they can stream a store promotion.


Working together with security integrators

No offense, or defense, for that matter, will succeed if everyone does not play together. There has been solid progress in this arena with retailers working together, especially with the National Retail Federation (see p. 28). However, one size definitely does not fit all.

“Each retail customer has unique needs,” Flowers agreed. While every customer desires the highest quality video, they must stay within budgetary restraints. “This can definitely limit the amount of technology that can be deployed,” Flowers continued.

Another unique challenge for each retailer is the aesthetics requirements presented by the décor of the store’s environment.

Among the vendors Flowers is involved with in retail deployments are top-tier firms like Pelco, Dallmeier, Avigilon, 3VR, American Dynamics, Arecont, and IQinVision.

Down the road five to seven years, Vogel said she expects most retailers to be migrated to digital. “You will see more video everywhere,” she predicted. “The sexier the technology gets and the more affordable it becomes with faster ROI, the more megapixel and IP you will see.” Those high-resolution cameras will help chain retailers build stronger cases.

“People will see video as a necessity, not a luxury,” Vogel concluded.



Curt Harler is a Cleveland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to SD&I magazine. He can be reached at