4 Technology Solutions for Deterring Retail Theft
While shopping predictions and forecasts for the holiday season vary among experts, the consensus is that organized retail crime (ORC) continues to increase. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retail Security Survey, 35.9 percent of retailers reported that ORC offenders were much more violent than in 2021.
It can be alarming for staff and customers to witness acts of aggression in stores—including yelling at store staff, shoving staff or customers, making threats, and more. In fact, the uptick in criminal activity puts the 32 million U.S. retail workers in the crosshairs of a concerning global trend as retailers shift into the busiest shopping period of the year.
Some governments are taking a stance, such as California’s new law regarding workplace violence prevention, which bars store employees from confronting shoplifters.
While some retailers are taking measures to close their stores, others are increasing budgets for loss prevention and technology solutions that can mitigate the issue. According to a store security survey from the National Retail Federation, 52 percent of retailers said they are focusing their attention and budgets on technology, equipment, and services that can help mitigate retail theft and keep employees safe.
As we enter what should be the happiest time of the year, consider security solutions that can help retailers protect employees, prevent theft, and reduce loss. The future of retail security relies on integrating technologies for enhanced security and safety.
Here are several technologies retailers can use to provide customers and staff with a safe shopping environment while helping prevent loss.
Video security cameras are commonly used in retail stores to monitor all areas for safety, including the store, parking areas, and loading docks. Surveillance can also help retailers deter theft and identify shoplifters.
With higher image quality and advanced analytics on video platforms, modern cameras can detect suspicious activities and alert security personnel in real-time. If a theft occurs, security staff can use artificial intelligence (AI) tools and analytics to quickly search through and review hours of footage in seconds. Not only does this decrease overall response times, but it also frees security staff up for other tasks.
Retailers use stockrooms to store large amounts of valuable inventory—from technology to sporting goods to clothing to luxury accessories and goods. Many high-value items can also be found on the store floor, behind locked counters or secured shelves that only an employee can access or unlock. Access control systems can restrict unauthorized entry to secure areas and stockrooms, as well as automatically lock doors if an incident occurs.
Stores often use key-based locks, which are susceptible to a number of potential security risks. For example, keys can easily be lost, stolen, or copied, leaving managers with no way of tracking a key’s location or the person using it. During the busy holiday shopping season, this can occur more frequently.
Retailers today can select from on-premise or cloud-based access control solutions to better control employee access throughout a facility and to merchandise. These solutions can be integrated with existing security systems, including video surveillance for enhanced security.
Amid rising concerns about violence in retail environments, body-worn cameras can act as a deterrent, discouraging aggressive behavior and preventing the escalation of confrontational situations. Along with dissuading disorderly behavior, these wearable cameras can provide concrete and objective evidence of incidents, decreasing a retailer’s liability.
In a busy retail environment, team members need instant and reliable communication across large shop floors, warehouses, and stock rooms for enhanced customer service and safety. Radios ensure staff can communicate and operate confidently with the entire team across different locations, allowing them to quickly address customer requests or issues across a facility.
Modern radios and wearable devices often have dedicated emergency buttons to help streamline responses and assist employees dealing with accidents or unruly customers. Emergencies can be declared via handheld radios by an employee from any location. Footage from body cameras can be streamed to authorized personnel, including staff capable of contacting first responders or law enforcement in the event of an emergency.
Another source of shrink can occur through employee theft, for example when an employee voids a transaction but still places the item into a shopping bag.
Retailers can work against insider theft or other types of shrink that occur around the register by integrating technologies for enhanced security and safety. For example, point-of-sale (POS) systems used by retailers to facilitate credit card charges, cash transactions, and returns can integrate with the store’s video surveillance. Video security systems can allow managers to review transactional data for irregularities, obtain insight into customer traffic, and review video footage if there is a suspicion of theft.
By integrating POS monitoring and reporting solutions with store security cameras, access control systems, and wearable devices like body cameras and radios, retailers can capture evidence of suspicious behavior, alert staff, and deter potential thefts and violence In addition to dissuading disorderly behavior, these technologies can provide concrete evidence of incidents and can serve as a training tool for other personnel on handling difficult situations—making the holiday season much happier for retail workers and shoppers.
Sharon Hong is vice president of Ecosystem Solutions at Motorola Solutions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California – Los Angeles and a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Southern California.