Theft can involve cash, credit cards, gift cards or sweethearting, when employees give free or discounted merchandise to friends or family. This is accomplished through cancellations, including “as-is” items, returned items, discounted items, void/no transactions or manual entries at the register. Sweethearting has been easy to accomplish at POS terminals and particularly difficult to detect—until now.
Using cameras as sensors, the system can quickly determine whether a person returning an item entered the store carrying that item. It works by detecting and tracking customers at entrances and customer service desks and associating the two events. Such a solution only requires cameras at the store entrances and returns counters, so it is simpler than an more customary approach where the customer is tracked throughout the store (requiring many cameras and very reliable camera hand-off algorithms) and must be continuously monitored to determine whether items are picked up.
Another video application could target employees that ring up a “return transaction” without a customer present. If so, the instant the return transaction occurs, the camera looks for a customer and, seeing none, alerts management.
Many organizations would like to better enforce a two-person rule for such types of transactions. The system operates in the same manner. If two people aren’t present at the time of the transaction, an alert is instantly sent to store management.
Besides catching incidents and helping the retailer immediately take action, such systems will also help the organization improve customer service at the registers. For instance, if company policy is to have no more than four customers in line, once the fifth customer queues up, the system sends an alert to the store manager to get another cashier at the station.
Decreasing retail shrinkage has moved into business tools and intelligence with cameras and analytics that parlay technologies into new proactive solutions.