Even if you have the most brilliant social media strategy and are constantly bringing new faces through the door, it will be hard to stay profitable if unpaid merchandise walks out behind them. New technologies are helping businesses decrease their losses by either preventing crimes before they happen or catching shoplifters in the act. However, it is essential to select the right product for your industry and business model as well as actively use the technology in your day-to-day operations.
Here are five technologies that can help you prevent shoplifters:
1. Video analytics. This software can be paired with security cameras allowing retailers an innovative, real-time way to analyze your surveillance. It identifies and detects when suspicious activity occurs, such as a customer walking out of the store with unpaid merchandise, and concealment of goods on the sales floor, and allows merchants to go directly to the incident on video, saving hours of monitoring and reviewing. “You can also integrate the technology with a point of sale system to catch financial losses at the register, such as an employee making bad choices or a cashier working in cahoots with another thief,” says Garth Gasse, director of assets protection for the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
2. Anti-push out technology. In the “push out” scam, a shopping cart is loaded with goodies and “pushed” right out of the store. Anti-push out technology is a modification of existing technology that prevents shopping cart theft from lots. With this loss prevention technology, underground wires are installed around the perimeter of a store parking lot and a device on the shopping cart locks the wheels when the cart crosses that perimeter. The technology can be redeployed to prevent push-outs by embedding wires at the store's front doors and locking up cart wheels that have not been pushed through checkout, says Bill Alford, president of International Lighthouse Group and member of the ASIS National Loss Prevention committee.
3. Facial recognition software. Stores using video surveillance can benefit from integrating facial recognition software into their video program. When someone enters the store, the software compares the person to known shoplifters in the database. If a known shoplifter enters your store, facial recognition software sends an alert to the smartphone of your manager or your loss prevention agent. “The best part about this technology is that it can prevent shoplifting from actually occurring by allowing a manager to approach the person and ask them to leave,” says Alford. He says that the facial recognition database can be used to track repeated visits to multiple locations and the facial recognition technology can be especially helpful for merchants targeted by organized crime rings. To most effectively use the software, merchants would need to take photos of people caught shoplifting in their store.
4. Mobile point of sale. With a traditional point of sale system, the cashier is stuck behind the cash register, giving potential shoplifters plenty of opportunity to head out the door with a shirt or piece of jewelry. But a mobile point of sale system allows your employees to be on the store floor, which often discourages theft because clerks are mobile and thieves feel they have less opportunity to steal. This system is especially useful for large stores or those that often have one person working alone, who can't monitor all areas. “However, it is essential that all staff using mobile point of sale technology have security training before engaging with perpetrators,” says David Feeney, IT director of integrated solutions AlliedBarton Security Services. For best practice, he suggests having a professional security guard is nearby to limit staff involvement with the shoplifter.
5. Smart display system. A new and emerging technology, these systems allow high-theft merchandise to be openly displayed rather than be locked in a cabinet. “If several items are taken from a cologne display, the smart display system triggers a flag that immediately sends a preventative message via email or text to a loss prevention person in the store who may be able to stop theives before they leave the store,” Alford says. An audible alert can also sound. He recommends this product for stores with a theft problem targeting specific items, especially health and beauty care items, baby formula and perfume.
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has over 18 years professional writing experience and specializes in writing about small businesses. Her work has been published MSN Money, FOX Business and the Intuit Small Business Blog and American Express OPEN Forum.