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Using modern surveillance technology to reduce retail shrinkage

5 minutes read
written by: Louise Hobroh
Louise Hobroh
Group entering clothing store that uses modern surveillance technology to reduce retail shrinkage.

Loss of inventory through increased theft and retail crime is a significant challenge to retailers. In fact, UK retailers have lost a total of £1.04bn to retail crime and £953 million to customer theft in the past year, while in the US this figure sits at about $94.5bn. As a retailer operating in an increasingly uncertain global economy, securing your profit margin is more important than ever. In this article, we explore how video surveillance can be used to minimize theft and reduce retail shrinkage.

Effective solutions start with human behavior

Addressing the ongoing challenges around shrinkage must start with the knowledge of human behavior and the different motivations for theft. Using these insights, you can make smart decisions about the type and design of security solutions needed. Video surveillance is the most deployed form of physical loss prevention technology and is used to monitor and detect any abnormal and suspicious behavior. It is important to note, however, that anecdotal evidence suggests that the effectiveness of CCTV as a deterrent appears to be waning. For this reason, there is a move to integrate more intelligence into the solution.

Starting with the basics, it’s important to make sure that the surveillance system is as effective as possible. Comprehensive coverage of a store is key, particularly in areas of high risk: the point of sale (POS) – whether manned or unmanned – entrances and exits. Once these fundamentals are covered, using suitably high-definition cameras supported by AI-based analytics for actionable insights, can provide an invaluable tool for reducing shrinkage.

AI-based analytics prove valuable in every area of interest

Unfortunately, there are many strategies used to misappropriate goods. This includes removing cash from tills, ‘sweet-hearting’, return fraud, shelf sweep and sneaking goods out the back door... Good camera coverage with smart analytics is of importance in all areas where an incident may take place. 

What if surveillance technology could help you understand  who, what, when, and where an incident happened without having to spend hours reviewing video clips in search of a single incident or activity? And if the same solutions could be used to prevent repeat offenders from taking these actions by sending triggered alerts to staff through network speakers?  

Thanks to AI-based analytics and actionable insights, your technology allows you to stay ahead of such instances and detect suspicious activity, identify potential wrongdoers, respond quickly, and protect against future incidents. You can attain situational awareness with real-time alerting capabilities bringing relevant events to the forefront and proactively respond to these situations.

Premises, parking and entrance

With surveillance technology in place outside your store, you can detect suspicious behavior through loitering detection, or sound detection of aggressive behavior and breaking glass. You can also collect data and video footage to detect vehicles and people of interest, identify known offenders, and protect against repeat incidents.

According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) 70% of crime occurs with a vehicle. With license plate recognition, you can be on the lookout and detect a vehicle that has already been involved in a crime and prevent a new incident from taking place.

Using network technologies and analytics, you can receive alerts and understand what is happening on your retail premises, even before a security alarm is triggered, and you can discourage potential theft by using public view monitors with boxed faces at the entrance.

Salesfloor and checkouts

Obtaining a full overview of large open areas such as the sales floor, with high image quality can be difficult and costly. When monitoring individuals of interest in the store with pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, you can lose sight of other areas where the camera is placed. For total situational awareness of indoor areas, multi-sensor cameras enable you to move from overview to detailed views in a single click.

Combining effective POS video surveillance with exemption-based reporting – analyzing transactions and picking out abnormal behavior – and electronic article surveillance (EAS) is an effective deterrent. It allows you to pair live video of the offender as the alarm occurs.

While video is still the most utilized form of physical loss prevention technology, taking an integrated approach will yield the greatest rewards. Integrating network audio solutions can provide live or pre-recorded deterrent messages at the right time and place when an incident occurs. This includes the detection of shopping carts being pushed through exits without payment. Cameras with analytics at self-checkouts can detect mis-scans and non-scans, ensuring accurate transactions. With open drawer detection, cameras with analytics can detect an open cash register when no customer is present, while also capturing images of the member of staff who is by the register. 

These types of solutions are rapidly gaining traction with loss prevention professionals in retail.

Working together enables the best outcome

There is a lot to gain from sharing your insights with other stores and law enforcement. By managing collected video footage and data from your stores with your video management solution and working with law enforcement, your technology, processes, and people can come together to identify, analyze, and respond to incidents, as well as provide guidance to prevent similar incidents in the future. 

With high-quality video coverage, technology integrations, well-trained personnel and sharing of insights, you can reduce retail shrinkage and protect your profit margins.

Find out more about how Axis video surveillance and connected technology helps bring in customers and keep out crime here.

Louise Hobroh

Louise Hobroh has worked in marketing and communications for 20 years, within the packaging, furniture and car industry. With a Master of Science in Industrial Management and Engineering, she joined Axis in 2018 as Global Marketing Manager for the Banking and Retail segment. Since 2019, Louise has focused on driving and supporting marketing initiatives across nine regions, promoting smart solutions that improve loss prevention, safety & security, operational efficiency and customer experience for retail customers. When she is not working she enjoys spending time with friends and family in her summer house, where she also practices SUP (stand up paddle) yoga. Namaste.

Louise Hobroh
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