Emerging Technologies Combat Retail Theft

Andrew Wren fight retail crimeOrganized retail crime (ORC), shoplifting and employee theft are growing concerns among merchants, but emerging tools offer retailers some security in protecting their bottom lines from loss. Retail Systems Research (RSR) says retailers are at risk of being rendered irrelevant if they are unable to keep up with this new technology.

According to the National Retail Security Survey, shrink cost retailers more than $34 billion each year, with shoplifting accounting for over one-third of losses and employee theft making up a hefty 43.9 percent, or just over $15 billion. There is growing evidence that retailers are increasing their focus and spending on loss prevention technologies to prevent theft and drive down shrink rates. Some examples of the technologies currently being used to fight theft include video surveillance and video analytics and monitoring, RFID, electronic article surveillance (EAS) and intrusion detection.

Video captures customer and employee activity

Networked video, for example, can send and receive data via the IP network, so images can be accessed anywhere, any time. They can be shared with management, team members or law enforcement agents, enabling immediate response to issues. Place them at the point of sale and throughout the store to monitor customer as well as employee activity.

While it is common practice to keep high-value items behind glass, out of reach or in unwieldy packaging, this can be frustrating for shoppers and often leads to abandoned purchases. Shelf-mounted cameras, however, are a highly effective alternative in areas with high-risk products that are often targeted by shoplifters and ORC groups. Small and versatile, they can be placed where thieves can see them so they know they are being watched. If this fails to deter would-be shoplifters, the cameras provide clear images and face shots.

A strong employee presence supplements technology

As helpful as advancements in technology can be, however, it is often true that the most traditional methods are also effective. Tasking more employees with maintaining a physical presence on the floor can reduce the need for protective devices to deter theft. Not only does this enhance the customer experience, it increases thieves’ awareness that their activities are being observed. This, in combination with investments in security technologies, can help reduce incidents of theft and loss.

In the coming days, retailers must adapt or risk falling behind their competitors who embrace technology to strengthen their bottom lines. As a bonus, they can enhance the customer experience and increase sales.

Andrew Wren is CEO of Wren Solutions, a loss prevention technology provider helping leading retailers reduce loss and increase profits. Wren is responsible for corporate and product strategy, leveraging his more than two decades of security technology expertise. To learn more about Wren Solutions, visit www.wrensolutions.com.