Security for multichannel retail: Getting more through a connected store

Evgenia Ostroskaya
28 February, 22

Retail has been irreversibly changed by the pandemic, with consumers now regularly using multiple channels during the purchase journey. New models bring new opportunities, not just for retailers, but also for criminals. Challenged with scaling security to address issues of violence, theft and cyber-crime in a bottom-line-friendly way, retailers must do more with less while enhancing the customer experience to drive top line growth.  A successful strategy being deployed is to unify existing physical security infrastructure to create a connected store that streamlines loss prevention while using security data in new ways to support operations.

Navigating threats and expectations

The UK Association of Convenience Stores reports that Covid-related abuse is now one of the top triggers of violence in store, with 65% of respondents seeing Covid-related threats to staff. The study also reported 40,000 violent incidents against convenience store staff and over 1.2 million incidents of verbal abuse. Physical distancing measure in stores, mask wearing and restrictions on products to reduce panic buying contributed to the increase in retail worker abuse.

Shoplifting and employee theft are also rising globally. Hayes International’s annual retail theft survey reported that while temporary Covid-driven store closures resulted in fewer thieves being caught stealing in 2020,  the average shoplifting case value increased 13% and the average dishonest employee case value was up nearly 4% over 2019. This is alongside a rise in organized retail crime as gangs wreak havoc on all forms of retail commerce. From conventional goods theft to targeted cyberattacks.

In cyber-crime, retailers lost  £12.3 billion to eCommerce fraud in 2020, and the number is expected to exceed £18 billion in three years. Not surprisingly, with an increase in models like buy online/pickup in store, multichannel was reported as the fastest growing source of fraud, with bad actors taking advantage of weaknesses in proof-of-identification processes.

Creating a connected store

Because security and customer experience needs are changing continually, retailers are hesitant to invest in solutions that are not future-proof. Fortunately, there are proven technologies that unify data from existing IoT devices already in use by many businesses.

A unified platform enables the integration of existing devices and applications. This creates a connected store, which centralises management of the entire environment for better visibility, operations, and data intelligence. Retailers can then add new tools as needed, without additional interfaces or locking themselves into proprietary solutions. It is this cohesive flow of information that helps security and loss prevention professionals to work smarter at a lower cost.

Additionally connecting a digital evidence management system can help retailers use actionable data to speed up investigations, enabling the secure collection, management and sharing of evidence from different sources.

Working smarter with existing tools

Video is often underutilised in retail, with 90% of use typically dedicated to safety and security alone. Retailers can increase the ROI of a unified security solution by using video analytic data in new ways.

Controlling occupancy

Some retailers are setting up their video management systems with a “one in, one out” policy to keep on top of occupancy regulations. Waiting shoppers are notified when they are allowed to enter a store via a “traffic light” device. With this technology, retailers can prevent overcrowding without placing an employee at the store entrance.

Enhancing customer experience

Security video data can be used to enhance the customer experience. Insights help teams manage queue times, or notify cleaning staff when a number of people have used the facilities. Using Automatic license plate recognition, staff can accurately measure the number of shoppers coming into a store, or be alerted when customers subscribed to loyalty programs have arrived.

Streamlining investigations

Security teams can further reduce costs and time by seeing where retail loss is occurring on a single, unified system. This same system allows teams to blur faces, watermark footage and generate links that can be shared with law enforcement, thus speeding up investigations while protecting consumer privacy.

Stemming cyber-attacks

IoT devices are a known attack surface, so retailers need solid governance to keep networks secure. Good cyber-hygiene, avoiding password reuse and using multi-factor authentication will help protect a connected store. Vetting vendors to prioritise cyber security is essential. For example, by  ensuring they perform regular penetration tests and have clearly outlined data handling processes that are consistently being followed.

Tying it all together

Locking into proprietary siloed solutions is both costly and limiting. Starting with an open, unified security platform helps retailers tap into the full potential of devices and equipment they already own, using data in new ways to streamline operations and derive intelligence. They can do more with less, delivering an optimal customer experience without sacrificing security or hitting the bottom line hard. It all starts with a unification – a connected store for the multichannel world.

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