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sales director, IDIS Europe

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Jamie Barnfield brings with him nearly 20 years' sales experience in the security industry across IP-enabled video surveillance and security solutions as well as traditional CCTV systems. He has held sales management positions at The Solutions Group, March Networks, Silent Witness, and at Risco Group. Jamie joined IDIS in April 2013 and is responsible for value-add solution sales to support IDIS installers and integrators, as well as end-user sales from small businesses through to enterprise-sized organizations from a wide range of markets and environments.
October 20, 2020


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Retail security

Why security tech and integrators can help retailers fight back and prosper

As a sector under pressure, retail needs to find methods to adapt and evolve. Security tech can be part of this fightback, argues Jamie Barnfield, Sale Director at IDIS Europe.

The UK high street has never been under greater pressure, but according to a recent report by Validify, in partnership with the British Retail Consortium, retailers “are not simply willing to down tools and accept their fate” – rather, they are looking to speed up the digital transformation of their businesses, and to work with innovative solutions providers.

As part of this fightback, video surveillance technology, which now offers so many more tools and capabilities than in the past, has a valuable role to play.

As retailers work hard to transform and find the most profitable way to align their online and physical operations, systems integrators and vendors can give them much-needed help.

A grim snapshot of a sector in trouble

There’s no doubt that times are tough in the sector. In September It was reported in The Grocer that over 125,000 retail jobs have been axed and almost 14,000 shops have already closed so far this year.


And things are likely to get tougher as the furlough scheme ends, with the Institute for Employment Studies warning that another 700,000 jobs are at risk in the wider economy.

The high street was already reeling from the online onslaught and the emergence of more fleet of foot e-tailers without the overhead of bricks and mortar.

And nor has crime gone away. The latest reasonable estimates indicate that shoplifting and shrinkage cost around £5 billion a year, (taking an average of the highly authoritative British Retail Consortium annual report on crime together with figures from the Home Office and the Association of Convenience Stores’ The Crime Report 2019).

Then came COVID-19 – and with it, all the additional costs of reconfiguring stores for social distancing, (measures including Perspex screens, floor signage and enhanced security guarding) and the further whammies of face masks, local lockdowns and loss of consumer demand.

READ: Shoplifters – your prevent and deter checklist!

So it’s not surprising that in recent months many established businesses have crashed into administration – including Laura Ashley, Oasis, and Cath Kidson, which are set to disappear from our high streets forever – while others, such as Debenhams, have reached agreements with landlords to keep better performing stores alive.

At the same time, other major chains are proactively announcing company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) which are a UK-specific insolvency process. Importantly these leave directors in control with opportunities to fight back, to reinvigorate their businesses, to negotiate with creditors and turn things around.

Opportunities to fight back

One such opportunity lies in the adoption of a new generation of IoT and security solutions, which can be transformative for retailers.

Can video systems really do that much? Yes.

They can turbo-charge the fight against shrinkage and organised crime, increase safety, reduce costs, boost sales, and enhance the customer experience.

Overcoming the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic (and building infrastructure to help with future infection risks) better video solutions can significantly reduce the cost of employing more security officers or re-deploy in-store staff to ensure compliance with hygiene requirements – for example, counting people and controlling the numbers coming into shops, or monitoring social distancing and face covering wearing to help prevent the spread of the virus.

A dashboard that displays occupancy in real time is the ideal way to show when customers can enter the store. These can also be used for safety, as well as promotional messaging as customers queue. Larger retailers may want to consider configurations that issue verbal warnings when customers or shop assistants get closer than the designated social distance.

Together these technologies build confidence that returning to malls, shopping centres and high streets is safe and that retailers are taking all necessary steps to comply with government guidelines, and doing so efficiently, without putting their own staff at risk of infection or aggression.

How systems integrators can help

Systems integrators and installers have an opportunity to guide retailers through the benefits of video tech, showing how others are already using it to increase profitability, automate processes, improve the customer experience (CX), and increase safety and security.

  • Simple and low-cost IoT devices and sensors connected to video surveillance can deliver better protection of merchandise and property by enabling a more rapid response to alarms (especially out of hours), reducing the risk of full-blown incidents or emergencies that have the potential to impact business continuity, increase operational costs and insurance premiums.
  • When selecting video tech, retailers should ensure that it can deliver customer behaviour intelligence and analytics in a simple and centralised manner. This is a tool that can with make a big difference when it comes to optimising shop layouts and in-store promotions, converting browsing into sales and enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • For smaller operations and retail chains with 100s of stores, simplicity and cost will be key, so consider easy plug-and-play appliances that will work with existing cameras. This can avoid complicated software, staff training, and the need to install lots more cameras. (Some manufacturers even offer appliances that can plug into cost-free video management software (VMS) making it easier to build a business case and secure the budget for introducing the wealth of benefits such systems offer). And, with simplicity comes the bonuses of quicker installation, easier use and lower cost maintenance.
  • Micro dome and Power over Ethernet (PoE) cameras and compact NVRs with built-in PoE switches can be ideal for luxury retailers where experience is vital and overt security and additional cabling is unwelcoming.  They can discretely nestle in confined spaces while offering the power of full HD performance in live view and playback. They can come in a range of subtle colours to blend aesthetically into boutique, restaurant, and other luxury settings.
  • Compact fisheye cameras cover a wider area with a single 360° panoramic view, allowing users to pan, tilt and zoom right to the periphery without losing the image quality needed for investigations. This naturally reduces the number, and therefore cost, of cameras. And it lowers operating costs, especially if dewarping can be conducted remotely, eliminating the need for loss prevention managers to travel up and down the country to conduct investigations.
  • Shrinkage is still the biggest problem faced by retailers and sadly, it is all too often staff who are the perpetrators – so integrators can help them realise how quickly an upgraded surveillance system can pay for itself. Video integrated with Point of Sale (PoS) makes “sweethearting” more difficult, as cash desk activity on the till is matched to what is showing on the screen or video. Card fraud and sneaking out that premium bottle of booze or designer pair of jeans as staff leave work via staff rooms and lockers can be minimised by installing cameras in these areas, that are often left unmonitored. It will certainly make the job of the loss prevention manager easier. It also, again, helps reduce insurance premiums.

In short, discrete video tech offers retailers the eyes to deliver consumers a COVID-safe, engaging, secure yet friendly shopping experience that will keep customers coming back for more. And that, above all else, is what retailers need in these torrid times.

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