The Tools an Intelligence-Led Loss Prevention Programme Needs
The data doesn't lie: Retail crime is on the rise – but as it turns out, data may also be the best tool retailers can use to fight it.
The surge in shoplifting that started with the pandemic continues to this day, where high inflation and lenient theft penalties now largely fuel the fire. Most concerning, however, is the rise in Organised Retail Crime (ORC) in many regions across the globe. In the United States for instance, ORC grew by 27 percent in just one year, creating a massive threat to staff safety – and the bottom line.
‘ORC used to be largely invisible to customers,’ said Craig Szklany, VP & General Manager for Loss Prevention and Liability at Sensormatic Solutions. ‘Now, it's front and centre. It's in the headlines every day. It's visible in the form of armed guards now patrolling big box retailers and even local supermarkets. ORC has become so brazen that it's damaging customers' perception of brands. It's not that they'll avoid one store at a particular time of day or in particular neighbourhood – we're seeing customers beginning to avoid certain brands altogether.’
These new threats call for a new approach to fighting shrink and protecting your team. Switching to an intelligence-led loss prevention strategy that prioritises data can help you to create more targeted and effective strategies.
Why Data-Driven Loss Prevention is the Future
Stores are treasure troves of data just waiting to be mined. Moving to an intelligence-led loss prevention strategy will help you to collect, connect and activate every piece of information at your disposal.
‘Today's retail store is full of great data – but it doesn't always lead to meaningful insights,’ said Ned McCauley, Director of Smart Sensor Technology at Sensormatic Solutions. ‘Stores are data-rich, but they're often insight-poor. They have disparate sources of data that either aren't or can't be interoperable, and that prevents them from seeing the fuller picture. Without those insights, they're going to continue to struggle to control shrink.’
With the right interconnected solutions, retailers can analyse the kinds of products being stolen, which locations are targeted most often, how it all translates to lost revenue and more – even down to which exits are most frequented by thieves.
Tracking these factors is critical to shaping a more effective loss prevention strategy and is instrumental in helping retailers transition into taking a more proactive approach to combating shrink. In fact, even in regions where retail crime is comparatively under control, retailers remain eager to engage with data.
‘In APAC, retailers are ahead of the curve in that regard,’ said Daren Ng, Vice President and General Manager for Asia Pacific at Sensormatic Solutions. ‘They all have cameras already, and now they are saying “Give us the analytics. Show us what these systems can truly do.” They're ready to take their loss prevention efforts to the next level and they understand that connected systems and insights from multiple sources of data is the future.’
Sifting Through the Solutions
Multiple sources of data can be a blessing and a curse – at least from the outset. An ecosystem of interconnected, state-of-the-art solutions can deliver granular insights that can be developed into impactful shrink-fighting plans – but only once they have been properly optimised. Selecting the right solutions to start with can remove unnecessary trial and error, and can help retailers to move more quickly towards achieving a more mature prevention programme.
Connected EAS systems can provide invaluable data and analytics relating to shrink events. Of course, EAS systems provide a strong visual deterrent and an alarm at the door, but the data captured from these devices can give you the insights needed to get a better picture of your loss activity. Subscribing to a shrink management analytics solution such as Shrink Management as a Service (SMaaS) can be a step towards a deeper understanding of where your biggest weak spots are. These insights can help you combat ORC activity by identifying loss event patterns in order to pinpoint where the next hotspot is likely to be and plan staffing to align with the most probable store hours for theft.
To make your exit systems work even harder, consider fitting them with the technology to detect when known criminal tools such as metal-foil lined booster bags and jammers enter your store. The data collected from this activity can shed light on where and when the next attack may occur. And to make gathering forensic evidence more effective, video footage associated with each loss event can be integrated with the analytics platform.
Gain More Visibility
Shrink Visibility creates a real-time understanding of what, when and where items get stolen through the use of RFID item-level data. This powerful combination provides visibility into shrink events, to help you understand the exact time, place and item value of each theft event, identify bulk theft events and use this collected data to build evidence packages that law enforcement needs to pursue and prosecute these aggressive offenders.
These insights not only empower retailers to truly take their loss prevention efforts to the next level, it also reveals cutting-edge analytics and insights designed to give retailers the ability to respond proactively to shrink events, reduce out-of-stocks, combat (ORC), drive revenue and enhance store operations. Plus, video can be integrated with the Shrink Visibility solution to enable visual verification and forensic analysis.
But don't stop there. By tapping into your existing camera network, Computer Vision uses AI and machine learning to look for any suspicious behaviour associated with loss prevention use cases. Computer Vision automates tasks, derives meaningful information from video footage and looks for specific activities associated with criminal activity, such as a shelf sweep in progress, large groups of individuals entering a store, loitering and even vehicles parked in spots for a certain amount of time. When computer vision ‘sees’ these events occurring, you can receive real-time notifications, allowing you to take proactive measures to deter theft.
These powerful analytics can help you to strengthen your loss prevention efforts and maintain a safe environment for shoppers and sales assistants. Computer Vision can be instrumental in identifying theft as it happens, but is also an invaluable source of data that provides insights across the business and a key contributor to a more intelligence-led loss prevention strategy.
As retail crime grows in frequency, ferocity and sophistication, the traditional approaches to loss prevention are simply not enough.
Today’s retailers must arm themselves with data to develop an intelligence-led loss prevention programme that can thwart thieves, aid law enforcement in the fight against ORC and reduce shrink across the board.
Implementing a connected EAS solution and bolstering it with the capabilities of Computer Vision, RFID-enabled Shrink Visibility and a robust shrink analytics platform can provide you with the analytics and insights you need to stop shrink in its tracks.
For a closer look at the causes behind the rise in retail crime across the globe, along with what you can do to stop it at your store, read our recent white paper, “Secure Retail in The New World.”