Data interpretation plays pivotal role in retail loss prevention

Combining security technology with business data is paramount to creating a comprehensive LP strategy

When security technology and business data are combined, a loss prevention strategy is born. Loss prevention is no longer just people chasing after shoplifters. It now encapsulates an array of areas.
When security technology and business data are combined, a loss prevention strategy is born. Loss prevention is no longer just people chasing after shoplifters. It now encapsulates an array of areas.
(Image courtesy bigstockphoto.com)

In today's machine-driven day and age, having the latest and greatest security technology seems like the end goal. We all know whatever is newest and most comprehensive gets the top billing at tradeshows. Even a quick Google search on "top security cameras" boasts about those with Wi-Fi connectivity, cloud storage, and smartphone app capabilities.

However, though we now have the best security technology that has ever hit the market, businesses across the world are still facing losses. These losses may be monetary. They may refer to high employee turnover. They may encompass leads that are slipping through the cracks. So where is the disconnect between technology and results? Shouldn't top technology hinder losses automatically?

The fact is, it's not that simple. You can have the best security technology in the world, but without the proper data and analytics strategy in place, it won't do you any good. A well-planned strategy will transform your security technology from an eyes-in-the-sky piece of machinery to another "team member" that increases sales, improves employee productivity, and streamlines operational efficiency for optimal business success.

Data and algorithms are widely used terms today, but ten years ago when we began our journey in the loss prevention industry, those words were reserved for mathematicians and investment bankers. We recognized the benefits these numbers have for narrowing down on a business plan and identifying bottlenecks, regardless of the industry. Where sales are involved, algorithms can be used to best determine where to begin tackling loss prevention issues. The best part is that this data can be garnered directly from the technology businesses already have on hand, like security cameras, point-of-sale transactions, financial reports, and more.

However, sifting through this data is another beast entirely. Many companies new to this process think that just having the data on hand is enough. This can lead to the age-old trap of bypassing the tedious part: watching video and analyzing trends. 

These hundreds and thousands of data points paint a picture, and though algorithms are used to better sort this data quickly, the anomalies or "red flags" need to be examined closer. It's the beast of burden, but well worth the while. There is simply no way to quantify the investigation any quicker. Missing this data doesn't evaporate these red flags from the bottom line. A strong strategy requires the data to be reviewed with care and diligence, no matter how much you have to sift through. Ultimately, this data will serve as a road map to make your trip a little easier.

This is why simply installing a top-notch security camera isn't enough. The data it provides a business is plentiful and the benefits are immeasurable, as long as business owners and decision-makers know how to interpret it.

When security technology and business data are combined, a loss prevention strategy is born. Loss prevention is no longer just people chasing after shoplifters. It now encapsulates an array of areas. As mentioned before, these losses can include anything from employees committing theft (cash, merchandise, or time), but also the biggest loss of all: customers.

Using the best security technology available today in cameras and software allows entirely new methods to exist for customer retention, such as online customer reviews. We now have the ability to read a customer review on Yelp, Google, or Facebook and pinpoint the exact specific event on camera. At times, this also reveals trends on whether the customer review is not only accurate, but also prevalent. The customer experience needs to be the number one priority for any business and with how far technology has come, we can have multiple cameras running at once to see the exact flow taking place like a well-oiled machine. Better technology, better cameras, and better data-sourcing allows us to diagnose a problem in the machine right away.

What's more, this strategy can now increase management’s response time. If a customer has a complaint or an employee brings up an issue, with access to state-of-the-art camera systems and sales data, we can pinpoint the exact instance or similar instances and review for trends. Before, a customer complaint could be viewed as a headache that can’t be proved, or an employee raising a concern would be difficult to determine. Now, as long as they know how to interpret the data a security camera or similar technology brings us, management can immediately address all questions and concerns knowing the data and footage are there to paint the picture clearly. By zooming in on the bigger picture, the issue can be resolved within minutes and avoided for the rest of a business's successful lifetime.

These are just a few examples of many on why you need a proper data and analytics strategy in place to make the most of your security technology, and what a strategy like this can do for you. Ultimately, if you don’t have a strategy in place, it doesn't matter if you install the top piece of technology on the market, how much you spent, or how small and lightning-fast the microchip is. Your technology will do nothing useful for you. Using security technology to tell your story can help your business turn loss into opportunities, but only when coupled with a proper data interpretation strategy. Don't let your technology be another loss in your business plan. Make it work to your advantage and see how much success it yields.

About the Authors:

Bruno Mota and Kelly Del Fuoco are the co-founders of Pembroke Loss Prevention, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to utilizing the data companies already have on hand to help increase revenue, customer counts, and overall satisfaction. They work with a wide array of companies to determine where losses are taking place and how to turn them into opportunities. 

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