There are many aspects to consider when developing a retail security strategy, including loss prevention, physical security, asset protection, risk management, and IT. All these areas could be the responsibility of just a few people working to secure a handful of stores or each of these areas could be entirely separate departments, as is often the case for major retailers with locations throughout the country.

Regardless of the size of the retailer, there are many different technologies that can be used within a retail store to improve security and loss prevention, yet none should be used in a silo. There are tremendous benefits to integrating security technologies and communications systems together, including enhancing overall safety and security, reducing shrink, and improving operations. There are many different technologies that can be used within a retail store to improve security and loss prevention

As the existing security infrastructure is evaluated and plans for the future are developed, the team responsible should consider some of the following questions. Are there areas of the store that require greater security? Are there notifications or other technologies that could improve the efficiency of personnel and the safety of shoppers?

Are there other departments within the organisation that could benefit from the data gathered by the security technology? Understanding current pain points within the stores and how integrated security solutions can address these is the key to implementing the best solution. Here are a few “hot spots” within a typical retail store that easily demonstrate the power of integrated solutions.

Point of sale terminals

Whether it’s loss through sweet hearting or other fraud, point of sale terminals present a significant shrink risk for retailers. Integrated systems enhance security at these locations. Video recording of HD or megapixel cameras integrated with point of sale data makes it easy to locate video associated with transactions and exception reporting. This allows for visual verification of each transaction when needed.There are tremendous benefits to integrating security technologies and communications systems together

Other risks like robbery not only result in loss, but also impact the safety of employees and shoppers alike. Panic buttons or bill trap sensors connected to the intrusion detection system ensure silent alarms are issued when employees are at risk.

When the intrusion detection system is integrated with the video system, pressing a panic button or pulling the bill from the sensor can automatically trigger a video snapshot to be sent to the monitoring station to provide verification of the alarm and more information for law enforcement when they are dispatched.

Adding audio integration to the intrusion system can also result in a message sent to the store security personnel’s two-way radio when a panic button is pushed, or a bill trap sensor is activated. If no security guard is onsite, video monitoring services can allow the monitoring centre to intervene through audio, alerting the perpetrator that his or her actions are being monitored and that the authorities have been contacted. This may cause the offender to flee the area, helping to mitigate the safety risk as well as the potential for loss.

pressing a panic button or pulling the bill from the sensor can automatically trigger a video snapshot
Panic buttons or bill trap sensors connected to the intrusion detection system ensure silent alarms are issued when employees are at risk

High value displays

Protect high-value or frequently-stolen items such as electronics, using video analytics integrated with audio communication Protect high-value or frequently-stolen items such as electronics, using video analytics integrated with audio communications. For example, a person standing at a display for longer than a pre-defined time or touching items on display can trigger a video snapshot to be sent to the store manager and an audio message to play through a nearby loudspeaker, such as: “Thank you for your interest in our smartphone selection; an associate will be there soon to assist you.

This not only alerts potential offenders that their actions are being watched, it also serves to improve customer service for legitimate shoppers – as a retail floor associate is notified that a customer may need assistance.

Cash office

An access control reader at the door to the cash office restricts access to only authorised individuals. Integrating video can automatically capture an image of the person requesting access for verifying an employee’s identification prior to granting access or for retrospective analysis in the event of a theft.

Exit doors

If an employee props open a back door – either for easy re-entry after a break or to allow access to another person with intentions of theft – integration of the intrusion detection system to the video and audio system can significantly reduce risk of loss. For example, the intrusion detection system can monitor doors for abnormal conditions, even when the system is disarmed.Loss can also occur when a cooler or freezer malfunctions or when the door is accidentally left open

A door left open for longer than a pre-defined time can cause an alarm on the intrusion panel, which can trigger a nearby camera to send a snapshot of the open door to the store manager and trigger the public address system to play a pre-recorded message through a nearby speaker. This prompts the employee to close the door, reducing risk of theft.

Coolers and freezers

Loss isn’t just about theft. Loss can also occur when a cooler or freezer malfunctions or when the door of one of these units is accidentally left open. The same concept for monitoring exit doors can also apply to doors for coolers and freezers to prevent spoilage. A cooler or freezer door monitored by the intrusion detection system can trigger an alert or chime to play in the area to remind an employee to close the door or to alert the store manager to the issue.

 the same public address system and loudspeakers used to play background music to enhance the shopping experience could be activated to broadcast a message to request another cash register to be opened,
While providing surveillance of the cash register area, the camera's video analytics can be used to trigger an alert in case the queue exceeds the pre-defined threshold

Serving a dual purpose

Retailers can use the metadata from the cameras to gather business statistics like counts of people entering the store While the technology solutions described above positively impact loss prevention in a retail store, they can also extend beyond security to improve health and safety and enhance customer service as well as customer engagement and sales.

For example, while securing a store’s main entrance with IP cameras featuring on-board video analytics, retailers can use the metadata from the cameras to gather business statistics like counts of people entering the store. This data can help them understand peak days and times when making decisions about staffing.

Or while providing surveillance of the cash register area, the camera's video analytics can also be used to trigger an alert in case the number of people in a queue exceeds the pre-defined threshold. At this point, the same public address system and loudspeakers used to play background music to enhance the shopping experience could be activated to broadcast a message to request another cash register to be opened, improving store operations.

For security and loss prevention purposes, video analytics can also be used to ensure that no one enters or leaves the retail shop using the emergency exit. To address health and safety issues, these same cameras can also trigger an alarm if that emergency exit is blocked by an object – improving the safety of customers and employees.

When systems are used to deliver data for purposes beyond security, other departments may be willing to contribute toward the cost Metadata generated by the cameras can also be used to gather information that when processed with sophisticated algorithms in the cloud can show trajectories of the paths that shoppers take as they travel throughout a store as well as heat maps indicating where they walk, stop and dwell – all while protecting the privacy of individual shoppers. This information can be used by merchandisers to evaluate the success of displays and store layouts, which directly impacts customer engagement and sales.

When systems are used for and deliver data for purposes beyond security, other departments may be willing to contribute toward the cost of the system. This provides an added benefit by relieving some of the cost burden from security or other operational budgets.

Product selection

Integration is becoming easier using standards and expanding industry partnerships. However, in some cases, choosing systems from a single vendor that are designed to work together can help to speed and simplify installation, while also reducing system costs for both the integrator and the user.

Regardless of the products chosen, it will be important for a retailer with many locations to have consistency in the type of equipment installed at each site. This makes support easier and enables a more uniform response to incidents that happen at various stores.

As many retailers already understand, there is no silver bullet to reducing loss. However, a combination of the right technologies working together to prevent shrink and improve investigative capabilities can result in smarter and more effective loss prevention.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Dan Reese Director, Vertical Market Applications, Bosch Security Systems

In case you missed it

Managing security during unprecedented times of home working
Managing security during unprecedented times of home working

Companies are following government guidance and getting as many people as possible working from home. Some companies will have resisted home working in the past, but I’m certain that the sceptics will find that people can be productive with the right tools no matter where they are. A temporary solution will become permanent. But getting it right means managing risk. Access is king In a typical office with an on-premise data centre, the IT department has complete control over network access, internal networks, data, and applications. The remote worker, on the other hand, is mobile. He or she can work from anywhere using a VPN. Until just recently this will have been from somewhere like a local coffee shop, possibly using a wireless network to access the company network and essential applications. CV-19 means that huge numbers of people are getting access to the same desktop and files, and collaborative communication toolsBut as we know, CV-19 means that huge numbers of people are getting access to the same desktop and files, applications and collaborative communication tools that they do on a regular basis from the office or on the train. Indeed, the new generation of video conferencing technologies come very close to providing an “almost there” feeling. Hackers lie in wait Hackers are waiting for a wrong move amongst the panic, and they will look for ways to compromise critical servers. Less than a month ago, we emerged from a period of chaos. For months hackers had been exploiting a vulnerability in VPN products from Pulse Secure, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, and Citrix. Patches were provided by vendors, and either companies applied the patch or withdrew remote access. As a result, the problem of attacks died back.  But as companies race to get people working from home, they must ensure special care is taken to ensure the patches are done before switching VPNs on. That’s because remote desktop protocol (RDP) has been for the most part of 2019, and continues to be, the most important attack vector for ransomware. Managing a ransomware attack on top of everything else would certainly give you sleepless nights. As companies race to get people working from home, they must ensure special care is taken to ensure the patches are done before switching VPNs on Hackers are waiting for a wrong move amongst the panic, and they will look for ways to compromise critical serversExposing new services makes them also susceptible to denial of service attacks. Such attacks create large volumes of fake traffic to saturate the available capacity of the internet connection. They can also be used to attack the intricacies of the VPN protocol. A flow as little as 1Mbps can perturbate the VPN service and knock it offline. CIOs, therefore, need to acknowledge that introducing or extending home working broadens the attack surface. So now more than ever it’s vital to adapt risk models. You can’t roll out new services with an emphasis on access and usability and not consider security. You simply won’t survive otherwise. Social engineering Aside from securing VPNs, what else should CIO and CTOs be doing to ensure security? The first thing to do is to look at employee behaviour, starting with passwords. It’s highly recommended that strong password hygiene or some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is imposed. Best practice would be to get all employees to reset their passwords as they connect remotely and force them to choose a new password that complies with strong password complexity guidelines.  As we know, people have a habit of reusing their passwords for one or more online services – services that might have fallen victim to a breach. Hackers will happily It’s highly recommended that strong password hygiene or some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is imposedleverage these breaches because it is such easy and rich pickings. Secondly, the inherent fear of the virus makes for perfect conditions for hackers. Sadly, a lot of phishing campaigns are already luring people in with the promise of important or breaking information on COVID-19. In the UK alone, coronavirus scams cost victims over £800,000 in February 2020. A staggering number that can only go up. That’s why CIOs need to remind everyone in the company of the risks of clickbait and comment spamming - the most popular and obvious bot techniques for infiltrating a network. Notorious hacking attempts And as any security specialist will tell you, some people have no ethics and will exploit the horrendous repercussions of CV-19. In January we saw just how unscrupulous hackers are when they started leveraging public fear of the virus to spread the notorious Emotet malware. Emotet, first detected in 2014, is a banking trojan that primarily spreads through ‘malspam’ and attempts to sneak into computers to steal sensitive and private information. In addition, in early February the Maze ransomware crippled more than 230 workstations of the New Jersey Medical Diagnostics Lab and when they refused to pay, the vicious attackers leaked 9.5GB or research data in an attempt to force negotiations. And in March, an elite hacking group tried to breach the World Health Organization (WHO). It was just one of the many attempts on WHO and healthcare organisations in general since the pandemic broke. We’ll see lots more opportunist attacks like this in the coming months.   More speed less haste In March, an elite hacking group tried to breach the World Health Organization (WHO). It was just one of the many attempts on WHOFinally, we also have bots to contend with. We’ve yet to see reports of fake news content generated by machines, but we know there’s a high probability it will happen. Spambots are already creating pharmaceutical spam campaigns thriving on the buying behaviour of people in times of fear from infection. Using comment spamming – where comments are tactically placed in the comments following an update or news story - the bots take advantage of the popularity of the Google search term ‘Coronavirus’ to increase the visibility and ranking of sites and products in search results. There is clearly much for CIOs to think about, but it is possible to secure a network by applying some well thought through tactics. I believe it comes down to having a ‘more speed, less haste’ approach to rolling out, scaling up and integrating technologies for home working, but above all, it should be mixed with an employee education programme. As in reality, great technology and a coherent security strategy will never work if it is undermined by the poor practices of employees.

How does audio enhance security system performance?
How does audio enhance security system performance?

Video is widely embraced as an essential element of physical security systems. However, surveillance footage is often recorded without sound, even though many cameras are capable of capturing audio as well as video. Beyond the capabilities of cameras, there is a range of other audio products on the market that can improve system performance and/or expand capabilities (e.g., gunshot detection.) We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How does audio enhance the performance of security and/or video systems? 

How have standards changed the security market?
How have standards changed the security market?

A standard is a document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes, and/or practices. Standards surround every aspect of our business. For example, the physical security marketplace is impacted by industry standards, national and international standards, quality standards, building codes and even environmental standards, to name just a few. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How have standards changed the security market as we know it?