When it came to loss prevention back in the day, retailers hired security guards, off-duty police officers, or other such folks to catch criminals trying to rip off their stores. The effectiveness of a retailer’s business security was mainly judged in terms of the number of arrests its security personnel made.
Times have changed, however. Now the name of the game is “loss prevention,” minimizing retail loss rather than making a lot of arrests. To that end, retailers are turning to innovative technology to help them mitigate theft and fraud.
Here are the four trends in “asset protection technology” for 2016, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).
1. Smart Video
Thanks to next-gen digital video, lenses, IP video surveillance cameras, and advancements in digital processing, more retailers will be using “smart” security cameras to help them catch shoplifters.
Retailers will also take advantage of new developments in computer vision and artificial intelligence to search data about the behaviors of the bad guys extracted from video. That information can be used to identify the offenders’ facial expressions and emotions, as well as map and analyze activity patterns.
In addition, researchers are developing technology that reliably visualizes what’s going on outside the field of vision of the cameras based on what computers can observe inside the frames, according to Jess Dankert, RILA’s senior director, retail operations, and author of the article.
2. Predictive Analytics
Retailers will also be turning to predictive analytics to forecast the future by analyzing the pertinent data to understand the key factors that correlate to loss due to shrinkage. This will enables companies to determine the locations that are likely to have the high incidents of theft—as well as determine the patterns of shrinkage or theft—so they can take more cost-effective actions to prevent it.
3. Cloud Computing
Increasingly, retailers will turn to the cloud for an efficient, cost-effective way of storing and managing the reams of data flowing into the business from intelligent digital video feeds, POS transactions, and systems that track returns.
“[The] increased need for real-time linkage to accurate product and inventory information is making a shift to the cloud an unavoidable next step for retailers,” Dankert notes. As retailers’ systems become more integrated with functions and data that cut across the enterprise, the more unmanageable all that information will be without adopting cloud technology. However, even though change is necessary, moving away from legacy systems and processes will continue to be challenging, says Dankert.
Due in part to the demands of omni-channel retailing, companies will implement technology to enable employees to collaborate more and combine ideas to look for innovation solutions to the problem of retail theft. Retailers will also collaborate outside the company. “The retail industry can learn and reshape its perspectives through cross-pollination with other industries, academic institutions, the nonprofit world, and more,” Dankert notes.
Even as retailers are looking to technology to combat theft and fraud, the bad guys are also adopting technology to help them with an organized brand of stealing, says Sgt. Charles Anderson, St. Paul Police Department.
Anderson is also president and chairman of the board for the Twin Cities Organized Retail Crime Association, a non-profit corporation dedicated to sustaining a coalition of law enforcement, corporate loss prevention and fraud investigators, and prosecutors dedicated to combating organized crime.
In 2016, retailers are going to be increasingly victimized by organized retail crime, including “boosting,” a type of professional shoplifting, Anderson says.
Want to stay ahead of tech-savvy and professional thieves? Retailers that take advantage of enhanced loss prevention technology—in conjunction with the business burglar alarm systems they are already using—will have the best opportunity to outsmart the bad guys and save money.