A major challenge chain operators deal with is shrinkage, or losses from employee/customer theft and other management issues. As a result, operators turn to video surveillance to prevent such losses. This article explores some of the features that make video surveillance for chain applications effective, and caveats that installers should be aware of.
Typically, a chain may have tens if not hundreds of stores in operation. When something happens, retrieving relevant footage in the fastest time is critical. Integrating video with the point-of-sale system can be beneficial in this regard. “Security personnel are more centralized and therefore need access to surveillance video from across the chain quickly,” said Karl Pardoe, Regional Sales Manager U.K. and Ireland at March Networks. “What chain store security managers usually want is to integrate high-quality surveillance video with POS transaction data, so that searches can be carried out very quickly across dozens, or even hundreds of stores to detect incidents.”
Remote access to video footage and the ability to easily share files with third parties (such as local authorities) during investigations are equally important. “For loss prevention managers, accessing video from multiple store locations remotely helps to cut travel costs, reduce response times, and perform investigations promptly and efficiently,” said Jumbi Edulbehram, Regional VP of Americas at Oncam.
Since each chain store can be quite large, cameras with 360- or 180-degree panoramic views are preferred. High-resolution images are ideal to offer great details from a distance. Meanwhile, as stores can gather dust easily and be vulnerable to vandals, cameras should come with vandal- or dust-proof features.
Demanding technical environment
Installing, running, and accessing video from across different locations and regions requires a high degree of reliability and stability. “For a large-scale chain store with distributed storage and central management, the important thing to consider is that the manufacturer they choose has sufficient ability to ensure the efficiency and stability of cross-regional network structure,” said Adler Wu, Product Marketing Manager in Hikvision Digital Technology. “This is the advantage of an all-in-one solution provider, which translates to lower total cost of ownership when taking into account the optimization of system scalability and maintainability.”
From a corporate point of view, these systems have to be easy to manage as a whole. Software updates and configuration changes need to be globally applied. Monitoring and reporting when systems have issues is also critical.
“To support employees who travel from site to site, you need to offer a very consistent experience at every location. Systems have to be configured and set up the same, right down to the process for naming cameras for each register,” said Charlie Erickson, VP Product Management, 3xLOGIC. “There has to be an easy way for users to look at all the sites they are responsible for and the software must be able to identify which stores and which employees they need to focus their precious time on.”
No ‘one size fits all’
Many vendors in the security market offer solutions tailored for the retail environment. Offerings seem similar and choosing the right one can be confusing.
“Buying a system is not just buying technology ingredients based on prices and specs. It’s all about addressing challenges and objectives. Making sure there is a good understanding of user needs and how technology can bring added value is the most important step in this process,” said Robert Verhulst, Sales Business Development Manager for Retail Vertical in EMEA at Bosch Systems.
In closing, most retail-targeting video solutions today claim they provide better ROI, lower total cost of ownership, and uses beyond security. However, even though they share the same basic characteristics, retail environments are not identical: a supermarket chain faces different challenges than those of an apparel or electronics chain. In order to choose the right system, installers or users should focus on the company that shows the deepest understanding of its operational and business model and can customize the solution accordingly.