Management

Security Solutions for the Retail Industry

16.03.2021 - Go on, confess! You have definitely been tempted at some time in your life to steal! You might actually have done it too, either as a pre-meditated act of youthful rebellion or during an opportunistic and momentary lack of self-control. We all know that it’s wrong, but some people have put aside their morals and have become regular shoplifters. Leaving aside the very few people for whom theft is a kleptomanic disorder, the rest cost the retail industry a massive amount of turnover and profit every day, so-called ‘shrinkage’, which is ultimately added to the prices the rest of us have to pay. GIT SECURITY looks here at a number of technologies that can help to reduce this significant loss.

In the UK in 2019, shoplifting cost retailers a whopping GBP 1.9 billion. The figure for the USA for the same period was USD 17.5 billion. And that’s just the so-called ‘customers’ who make items disappear without having paid for them. Unfortunately, there’s the ‘inside job’ to consider too: employee theft. This is often much more significant than many shop owners realize, or would like to admit. In the UK, a further GBP 1.3 billion worth of goods was removed by light-fingered staff in 2019. Now we’re not calling the UK public or the shop employees there particularly untrustworthy because these two figures can sadly be applied, more or less, to almost any other country worldwide. There are various approaches available to change this situation.

Video Surveillance

The good old classic CCTV camera has been around for decades, and has progressed leaps and bounds since its introduction. With highly intelligent algorithms either built into the camera itself or sophisticated apps studying the incoming images centrally in real time, it is relatively easy nowadays to spot shoplifters in action. No matter whether it’s a single thief or an organized band, today’s systems can raise an alert when they recognize suspicious behavior based on movement patterns, such as lingering, an unusual grouping of customers or running. Stockrooms and warehouses can also be kept in view and similarly protected against theft by employees.
On the basis of their Wisenet cameras, Hanwha Techwin Europe can provide a complete retail solution that will deliver not only security surveillance but also customer behavior intelligence. Integration with other in-store systems is supported through the devices’ open platform approach, for example through the use of AI-based video analytics to ensure the current occupancy, social distancing and mask regulations are being complied with. SMOB provide retailers in France and neighboring countries with a comprehensive range of anti-theft systems, item tracking and surveillance devices. Bosch Security offer sophisticated retail solutions that provide security and also help to increase customer loyalty and sales. You might also contact Axis who have a comprehensive palette of intelligent systems that work together to provide safety and security, loss prevention and store optimization.

Biometric Surveillance

The subject of face recognition is a hot potato in certain countries and not universally acceptable, amongst others on human rights grounds. Where it is acceptable, legal and implemented however, it can dramatically reduce theft and violence in a retail environment. Obvious signs stating that biometric recognition apparatus is installed in this store can already cause some persistent criminals to turn around on the spot. Standard video security cameras supply images of shoppers entering the store to be checked against a database of known criminals or troublemakers. Panasonic is one supplier of face analysis systems and their Face Pro system allows recordings to be searched by people’s face criteria to see whether they shoplifted and which floors they visited as part of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy. Returning recognized shoplifters immediately trigger an alarm on entering the store. Pelco facial recognition systems use artificial intelligence-based facial recognition and integrate with third-party systems to provide an efficient solution customized to the particular requirements of a particular store.

Electronic Article Surveillance

Under this heading fall RFID tags – tuned circuits that oscillate and emit a magnetic pulse or a radio frequency that is detected by receivers at the entrance/exit of the store. Century Europe have a range of discreet solutions suitable for various types of goods; electronic items, foodstuffs, health & beauty products, clothing etc. They can be applied to items during manufacture to save in-store effort with each new delivery. Striving to reduce costs for retailers, Nedap Retail offer a spectrum of RFID tags, with more or less features as required.

Smart Shelving

If you’ve ever wondered just how this much-publicized but so far almost invisible Internet of Things is going to make a difference to your life, here is the answer. Smart shelving continually monitors the presence of goods, either physically through weight, by RFID, or by cameras. The shelf reports to the central system that an item is underway as soon as it is lifted. If an item has been removed from the shelf, it must, logically, soon afterwards appear at the cash desk. If instead it is detected as it goes through the front door and doesn’t first get ‘cashed’, then it has most likely been stolen – an obvious alert situation. There may well be a perfectly plausible explanation, such as the replacement of faulty goods for example, which can be manually corrected by authorized staff.
Combining inventory management, in-store analytics and loss prevention, the smart shelf technology of Imco looks after a number of tasks that your staff would otherwise have to do. The American company AWM manufactures innovative smart shelf systems that at first glance just make shopping easier for customers, but in the background provide shop owners with valuable, accurate and real-time data on their product lines. A contactless shopping system called Frictionless has been developed by FLIR. This utilizes the company’s own Blackfly camera systems and makes unattended shopping for smaller items a reality – a distinct advantage in these pandemic times.

Signage

The power of a sign is not to be underestimated. If warning signs are strategically placed near where high-value goods are displayed, they will have a high deterrent effect. Any anyone who reads the sign – which in most countries is now mandatory – that cameras are in use and then looks around to see exactly where the surveillance cameras are pointed immediately makes themselves suspicious! Even a statement that ‘All shoplifters will be prosecuted’ sends the warning that staff are on the lookout and that this shop is not going to be an easy hit.
In America, Signs.com provide a rapid delivery service of signs made of all sorts of materials. While in Germany, Kroschke provide signs in accordance with the basic data protection laws of the EU (called the DS-GVO there), you can easily find local producers of signs compliant with the applicable regulations in other countries too.

Layout

Placing high-value goods near to the main entrance is tantamount to inviting someone to remove them without paying. Accordingly, the deeper you go into the shop, so the higher the value of goods should be, the most expensive being contained in locked, anchored, armored and alarmed display cases of course. But thought should also be given to the ‘routing’ of customers through a store. Well-planned placement of floor stands, bargain bins and free-standing racks will create a natural route for customers to follow while simultaneously building a maze that any shoplifters would have to negotiate from the back of the store where the high-value goods are. This way you can also avoid creating ‘dark spots’ that are not covered by security cameras.

Break-Ins

Of course, theft happens not only when a shop is open – the cover of darkness and deserted streets inspires thieves to break into retail properties and fill their (probably stolen) vehicle with goods. Shopfront design and construction has come a long way in recent years and there are a number of ingenious methods of preventing, or at least delaying, unauthorized access through the front doors when the ‘Closed’ sign is hanging.
The first line of defense is the glass window itself, which nowadays can be almost impenetrable to bullets, pickaxes, sledgehammers and the like. Pilkington are represented worldwide and offer their laminated Optiview Protect OW or the multi-layer Optilam safety glass for shop windows to resist impacts and prevent intrusion.
The second is a perforated barrier that still allows passers-by to take a look at the goods on display, but is firmly anchored either inside or outside the window to prevent entry through a hole made in the glass. In Canada, Glass Essential have a wide range of sturdy but not ugly ways of protecting windows, both from outside and inside. B+B Rollladentechnik based in Berlin will build a roll-up window grid exactly to the size of a shop window and provide a full installation and maintenance service. The grid can be remotely activated via a network or even voice-controlled. In Austria, Ariba offer a custom-built roll-up grid design, construction in aluminum or steel, and a full installation service.
The third tactic is the use of ‘street furniture’ which, in cooperation with the owners of the land immediately in front of the property, can provide protection against so-called ‘ram raiding’ while simultaneously enhancing the appearance of the street. What look like heavy flower boxes can in fact be disguised bollards that are sunk into the ground below to stop any vehicle from going any further. Perimeter Protection Group operate internationally and have a range of vehicle prevention devices for every situation.
These are just some of the retail security solutions that you might implement to prevent that nasty realization one day that your store has just become the latest statistic in an insecure world. We will probably never manage to make theft impossible, but the solutions mentioned above will make it much less attractive, both for determined and for casual thieves.

 

Ariba · www.ariba.at
AWM · https://smartshelf.com
Axis · https://www.axis.com
B+B Rollladentechnik · https://rollladentechnik-bb.de
Bosch Security · https://www.boschsecurity.com
Century Europe · https://www.century-eu.com
Flir · https://www.flir.com
Glass Essential · https://www.glassessential.com
Hanwha Techwin Europe · https://www.hanwha-security.eu
Imco · https://www.imco-berlin.de
Kroschke · https://www.kroschke.com
Nedap · https://www.nedap-retail.com
Panasonic · https://security.panasonic.com
Pelco · https://www.pelco.com
Perimeter Protection Group https://www.perimeterprotection.net
Pilkington Glass · https://www.pilkington.com
Signs.com · https://www.signs.com
SMOB · https://www.smob.fr