Security Magazine: 5 Ways to Leverage the Benefits of IP Video at Retail

This is a good article by Steve Morefield, outlining the benefits of IP Video for retail outlets.

Inventory loss through shoplifting or internal theft, unsuccessful in-store promotions, even long lines at the register – all of these are pain points for retailers and can seriously impact the bottom line.

As a key part of a loss prevention program, retailers have installed cameras to be the eyes in the store, acting as a deterrent through the very visible presence of the cameras mounted above registers, near doorways or in restricted areas. Of course, these cameras also present live and recorded images of potential situations that can be used to catch people in the act of committing a crime and serve as a forensic tool after the fact.

Because of the underlying concern about in-store shrinkage, retailers have made surveillance a priority through the adoption of basic video systems. Yet merchants are just now beginning to explore opportunities for video beyond security – something that can be achieved with the installation of IP camera technology.

According to a 2014 Centre for Retail Research survey on the use of CCTV video in U.K. retail settings, more than 60 percent of store operators who responded indicated they were planning to adopt network IP within the next three years, while one-third had already adopted it.

While addressing customer theft remained a major security challenge for retailers, respondents also cited preventing internal theft and better safety as reasons to improve their video systems. Additionally, those surveyed listed quality of image as an important reason for switching to network video.

But nearly half of the respondents also cited non-security applications, such as people counting and queue management for making the move to IP, noting these video-related tools could be used to improve sales and marketing.

It is apparent that IP video within retail stores can serve many purposes: So what are some of the ways in which retailers can best leverage network video?

Tracking and Apprehending In-Store Criminals

By deploying both in-camera intelligence and through the strategic positioning of highly functional IP cameras, in-store security can more easily identify and track a suspicious individual, such as suspected shoplifter, as the person moves throughout the store.

IP cameras have shown their ability to produce superior high-resolution images that increase the likelihood of producing a positive ID for a suspect. Improvements in technology related to latency have also stepped up camera response time, so personnel in the midst of an active surveillance situation can more easily follow someone’s movement and not lose sight of them as they travel among the views of different cameras in real time.

Not all in-store theft is generated by outside sources. Retailers are also using IP video to monitor employee actions, such as product going out the back door or never making it off the loading dock. Cameras positioned above registers provide a clear view of transactions, and the ability to zoom in and record images can offer evidence of a problem.

Internal theft is a major issue and one that IP video can help to address by linking cameras with point-of-sale (POS) data as well. By doing so, stores can view in real time or with recorded video suspicious behaviors such as no-sale rings on a register, or excessive returns in which cash is given to the customer.

Delivering Better Forensic Evidence

Not only are store’s seeking better quality images of suspects, but they also want to get that information as quickly as possible to share with police or to disperse systemwide so other stores within the chain can be aware of suspicious individuals. By deploying analytics within the camera or video management platform, store personnel can more easily pinpoint the important footage while bypassing hours of inconsequential video. Time and date stamps on the information can help make a better case against a suspect.

How is this achieved? It could be by sorting through the video using particular characteristics of the suspect – men wearing red shirts, or women pushing a stroller. Or the suspicious behavior could be identified by the entrance of a person into a restricted area as designed within the analytics, such as someone accessing the storage room or lingering outside an office door. Even simple motion search tools can be used to detect if someone is going the wrong way through an exit – this action can trigger the camera to record video and/or send an alert to security.

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