Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
March 18, 2016

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Retail Security: How Can Biometrics, Video Analytics and Other Innovation Cut Record Theft Losses and Boost Commercial Performance?

Retail crime hit a 10-year high in the 2013-14 financial year, with the £603m losses recorded by UK retailers 18% higher than those racked up in the previous 12 months.

Despite this, the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual crime survey also revealed that the volume of theft offences actually fell 4%. While conventional security technology – primarily CCTV and electronic product tags – has been effective at reducing petty shoplifting, a surge in gang-related bulk theft is soaring.

The average value of goods, money or services stolen now averages £241 per incident.

Clearly, the security industry must evolve its approach to tackle this growing threat.

As Retail week Live packs up for another year, we asked several security experts how the industry is harnessing – and could harness – the latest cutting-edge technology to improve not only retail security, but commercial performance too.


simon chapman“Retailers must be prepared to invest not only in technology, but also the skills and equipment of security staff, such as in using body-worn cameras”

Simon Chapman, managing director, Lodge Service

The use of technology is critical in countering the rising losses to in-store crime as well as the threat of terrorism.

Criminals are getting far more organised and sophisticated than ever before. Retailers must respond to this growing threat, and be prepared not invest not just in technology, but also the skills and equipment of their security staff, such in using body-worn cameras.

Whilst the cost pressures on retailers are considerable, there is a risk in retailers opting for the lowest cost security options. It drives down standards and leaves their stakeholders more vulnerable.

There are opportunities today for retailers to integrate the management and control of a wide range of security and other building services over the internet, across multiple sites. Data can be shared to enable faster response to imminent threats, such as from organised gangs.

Retailers must be ready to invest in this type of technology and infrastructure if they are to benefit from the next generation of advances, such as facial recognition. In the longer term it will reduce losses to crime, drive down costs and protect shoppers from the risks of crime and terrorism.

Read Simon’s article on guarding in retail security, Store Detectives are Central to the Future of Security Guarding in Retail


Mikkel Løcke Winther milestone

“Smart queue analytics software can integrate with footfall data at store entrances so that additional tills can be opened before that fresh rush of new visitors has reached the checkout”

Mikkel Løcke Winther, senior product manager, Milestone Systems

We are seeing retail analytics offerings being absorbed into IP video management systems (VMS) that are now being deployed much more widely on the shop floor, as well as in warehouses and distribution centres.

We see many retailers with a desire to video-enable their business processes and gain more insight using both simple and advanced analytics solutions. They are also using other business-enabling technologies such as sensors and other input devices such as access control and access monitoring and more.

Retailers often have very diverse solutions, stitched together by many technologies. The goal is to have these solutions working together, preferably under one user interface with a uniform user experience.

As an industry we have to look beyond our own offerings and consider the customer’s needs. Video management solutions should integrate with POS devices, retail analytics solutions, transaction systems, ERP and warehouse management and any other devices or solutions the retailer wants.

Heat mapping software can determine areas of high footfall. Managers can use this intelligence to improve store layouts and negotiate better deals with suppliers when offering premium display locations, for example.

Heat maps can also be cross-referenced with till receipt data to confirm that specific layout or stock changes are feeding through to increased sales figures.

IP video systems are now being used to generate real-time alerts when queues exceed pre-defined thresholds. Using simple analytics such as people counting, queues can be predicted and, in most cases, avoided.

These alerts could trigger decisions to open additional tills and accelerate stock replenishment cycles. Smart queue analytics software can also integrate with footfall data at store entrances so that additional tills can be opened before that fresh rush of new visitors has reached the checkout.

We must continue to build a strong eco-system of accredited partners to give retailers the flexibility to select best-of-breed retail solutions which meet their unique needs.


Simon Gordon“Why do we lock and protect our buildings when they are empty, but not take advantage of technology-based precautions when our most valuable assets – our staff – are there?”

Simon Gordon, founder, Facewatch

Right now I think we are on the cusp of some major changes to retail security and CCTV monitoring – and not before time.  The benefits of improving security for staff by having video verification of alarms via monitoring stations, when businesses are open, are simply enormous.

Why do we lock and protect our buildings when they are empty, but not take advantage of technology-based precautions when our most valuable assets – our staff – are there?

Facial recognition is something that everyone gets very excited about and this year we’ll see the rollout of the first networked systems sharing live Watch lists via Facewatch.

There are already lots of very clever analytics platforms around, including ours, and the next key change will be to enable them to learn how, for example, to spot a shoplifter, which will require lots of data to be fed into their AI engines.  We are already feeding data into one such system – so it’s not just sci-fi.


andy martin axis“Through embedded analytics you can get a clear view of how customers move along the aisles, optimising shop floor plans and merchandising strategies to drive sales”

Andy Martin, business development manager for retail, Axis Communications

Security and loss prevention teams have for many years reduced losses through CCTV monitoring.

But the growth of network video has created the opportunity to boost revenues too, using video analytics to provide in-depth insights into customers’ shopping experience. Multi-channel retailers have developed analytics to understand online customer behaviour and personalise the shopping experience to enhance sales.

With the embedded analytics in network video cameras you can observe customer behaviour in-store and use real-time statistics to improve store layout and product and display placements.

You can even identify and respond to bottlenecks and dead areas on the shop floor. You get a clear view of how customers move along the aisles, making it possible to optimise shop floor plans and merchandising strategies to drive sales.  It also allows you to make real-time operation decisions to improve service.

The technology makes it possible to evaluate and compare merchandising and marketing initiatives at a single store or throughout a chain.

Processing video inside network cameras – ‘intelligence at the edge’ – helps you minimize bandwidth usage. Network cameras can be programmed to only transmit video when they detect motion in a defined area, dramatically reducing bandwidth consumption and the number of operators needed.

In centralised video surveillance architecture, servers typically process four to 16 video streams; when network cameras do the processing servers can handle more than 100 video streams. For people-counting applications, for example, data (rather than the video stream) can be sent directly to a database, further reducing server load.

When network cameras process raw video data before it is degraded by a compression format, the analysis quality soars. This configuration also reduces the number of servers required to process the transmission because fewer video packets are sent along the network for uncompressing or transcoding prior to processing.

With fewer servers, power consumption and maintenance costs drop. And sites without server rooms needn’t build special facilities to support their surveillance system.

Retailers can also deploy more moderately-priced network components.

Retailers who continue thinking of video surveillance strictly as a loss prevention tool are missing a huge opportunity to leverage some truly powerful in-store intelligence.

Latest retail security articles

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IDmachines

ifsecglobal video solutions can help but they need to be deployed securely, otherwise the “fix” to retail losses could make things worse.

Sahib Ahluwalia
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Sahib Ahluwalia

Retail stores need to use IoT-based products along with monitoring services to ensure safety and security. Inventory shrinkage can only be combatted if your retail surveillance systems are up to date.
http://gizmosupport.com/tips-to-assist-in-retail-store-surveillance/

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