Most images of “holdup buttons” come from the movies — where a bank manager or employee under siege slyly reaches under a counter to push a red button. Then, within seconds, the sounds of sirens fill the air and the real action begins.
Today, wireless holdup buttons and compact “duress pendants” are being used to add much-needed people protection to the security mix. Banks still are leaders in panic button use, but a host of new applications are making their way into a variety of industries, including retail. The “holdup button” is finding more uses in over-the-counter cash transaction-based businesses, such as convenience, gas, bill payment and retail outlets. The adoption of holdup buttons is supported by a 2013 study by the National Retail Foundation (NRF) which found that retailers lose about $30 billion each year to organized retail crime.
This challenge of reducing shrinkage and protecting people — and thwarting increasing workplace violence, helps mitigate risk to the people who are working or shopping at a retail location. That is why it is imperative that these businesses provide a level of protection not only for merchandise, but also for employees, and anyone who may be shopping or visiting an establishment. As a result, an increasing number of retail operators are installing holdup buttons and mobile duress pendants as part of their overall security solution. Generally, these buttons will be located under a counter — which is how they are typically used in banking, education and sometimes healthcare — enabling an employee to inconspicuously push them if there is a security threat. The button then sends an alert that notifies the appropriate authorities that help is needed. Many holdup buttons have been designed with features that prevent false alarms — such as the requirement to push two buttons — while remaining discreet enough for employees to call for help without escalating a situation.
Building on the images of TV and movie “silent alarm” scenarios, today’s holdup buttons are a simple way for integrators and dealers to grow RMR, while offering customers a security option that directly benefits and protects the people that serve customers and run the business. The evolution of duress buttons now includes wireless options that can provide reliable coverage in a constantly changing environment, and can be easily integrated into existing systems.
Retail Security Challenges
Retail facilities possess several elements that make them vulnerable to theft, robbery and possibly even more violent crimes. Typically, in retail environments no one is screening people at the door. And, certain types of retail establishments (convenience stores, quick-serve restaurants, pawn shops), are open all the time, causing even greater concern for safety. Also, unlike many other environments, cash is changing hands — a potential magnet for crime. Merchandise is available on the floor, and it is an open environment where people move about freely.
With a holdup button or a mobile pendant of any kind, retailers can empower employees by providing the ability to summon help discreetly and avoid making a bad situation worse. “As an integrator who works a lot with retail operators, the number-one security issue among my customers is employee safety,” says Trey Walling, senior client executive at SageNet, a technology solutions provider specializing in mission-critical business solutions and managed services, in Tulsa, Okla. “For a security dealer or integrator, there is great value in bringing a holdup button into the sales discussion, because ultimately, the protection of both people and merchandise in retail stores are a top priority.”
In retail, a security solution needs to be scalable enough to accommodate a variety of retail settings and flexible enough to perform in a rapidly changing and mobile environment. While holdup buttons historically have been fixed on a wall or under a counter, they have evolved to meet mobile demands, which are a requirement in today’s retail settings, as employees interact more freely on the floor and throughout the merchandise displays.