After the upheaval of 2020 and 2021, retailers across the US are putting more effort than ever before into loss prevention and workplace security.
In the 2021 National Retail Security Survey, respondents reported a 69% rise in overall risk, with 61% specifying workplace violence and 57% specifying organized retail crime (ORC).
Robust retail store security systems can do a lot to help managers and employees prevent shrinkage and theft. The most effective retail security systems integrate multiple security components including video surveillance, alarm systems, access control, and workplace awareness and training.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how each of these components helps prevent theft and how you can leverage these technologies to better protect your own inventory.
Video Surveillance for Retail
A store-wide video surveillance system provides a number of benefits for loss prevention:
One 40-year review of CCTV-related research found that the presence of cameras significantly lowers the incidence of theft. The study notes that “CCTV schemes incorporating active monitoring generated larger effect sizes than did passive systems”–meaning that 24/7 monitoring by a security company will give better return on your investment than just a set of cameras.
High-quality CCTV cameras can capture information that can help with incident response–things like perpetrator’s faces, vehicles, distinguishing characteristics, and preferred inventory targets.
Prevent Employee Theft
An unfortunate reality in retail is the risk of shrinkage from employees themselves. Video surveillance and recordings can provide definitive proof of employee misconduct, and allow the issue to be resolved quickly and decisively.
Alarm Systems for Retail
Alarms are an integral part of security systems for retail, and can take a few different forms or applications.
Electronic Article Surveillance with Active Security Tags
These tags consist of electronic antennas protected by a hard outer shell or flat sticker. The tags are attached to various kinds of merchandise that are either high-value–such as electronics, jewelry, pharmaceuticals–or high-volume–books, hardware, or non-perishable groceries.
The security tags can only be removed or deactivated by passing through the checkout stand, and anti-theft sensors by each entrance and exit will alert security personnel if an active tag passes their perimeter.
If you have a section of your store that is devoted to high-volume, high-theft items like jewelry, electronics, firearms, etc., you can apply an Electronic Article Surveillance system specifically to that area to protect that merchandise.
Security Alarms on Cases
If applying active security tags to a high volume of merchandise isn’t feasible, you can store select merchandise in glass-front cases with a lock, then outfit those cases with alarms that will alert security when the case is tampered with. This works well with electronics and jewelry.
You will need to allocate staff to remain nearby in order to unlock cases for customers who are legitimately seeking to purchase items, but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff when it comes to protecting your most expensive items for sale.
Commercial Burglar Alarms
Commercial alarm systems are tailored to the needs of retail facilities. They combine alarms, sensors, and cameras to detect intruders or unusual occurrences. These systems have sensors wherever something untoward can happen, including:
- Parking lots
- Fire and water structures
- Outdoor areas
They can effectively detect incidents anywhere from offices to the warehouse floor. A 24-hour monitoring service is again helpful with this system, as they can check in on alarms remotely, determine if a theft is occurring in real time, and detect management, the security team, and law enforcement.
Make Doors Audible
Non-public areas like hallways, offices, back rooms, and break rooms are also places that need alarms. One easy, low-cost way to deter employee theft from these areas is to outfit each door with a bell, buzzer, or chime that sounds each time the door is opened.
These alarms signify less urgency than a burglar alarm, but knowing that their ingress and egress is noticeable will go a long way towards keeping employees honest.
And remember that alarm systems of any kind are most effective when they are combined with good CCTV coverage!
Workplace Awareness and Training
As organized retail crime gangs display greater levels of aggression, prepare your employees ahead of time by creating workplace awareness and implementing specific kinds of training.
How To Spot Suspicious Behavior
Teach each employee to look out for these shoplifting “giveaways”:
- Large purses or backpacks
- Baggy clothes
- Avoiding eye contact or any interaction with staff
- Frequent visits with few purchases
- Quickly exiting the facility
- Swapped price tags on items
Have A Clear Chain Of Reporting
Once your employee spots a shoplifter or a retail crime happening, who do they go to? If they alert a manager, who should the manager go to?
Design a clear chain of reporting so that employees are not confused about how to raise the alarm for security incidents.
Have A Physical Security Policy
A physical security policy is a physical document, maintained by a dedicated security committee, that reviews all potential threats and disturbances a facility may experience and outlines a clear response.
These disturbances can range from shoplifting to break-ins to fire alarms to active shooter situations, depending on where your business is located and what merchandise it handles.
Make your physical security policy available to your staff and regularly test their knowledge of its contents, so that you’ll all be prepared if such an event occurs.
Your workers will be better prepared for any kind of event if they’ve received training on how to respond beforehand. It’s the same mentality behind regular fire drills: if you literally know the drill in practice, you’ll be less likely to make mistakes or panic in reality.
Based on what kinds of problems you most encounter in your retail store, develop your own training or work with retail training providers to build up your employee’s ability to respond appropriately to incidents of theft, confrontation with customers, or other dangerous situations.
Work With A Pro Installer for Best Security Coverage
Remember that an integrated security system is the best security system! If you approach your retail security with the idea that the different components of your system should reinforce, support, and communicate with each other, you’ll end up with a more robust security net overall.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to make your retail security system as effective as possible is to use a vetted professional to install and integrate cameras, alarms, access control, and other security system options.