Sponsored by NAVCO
LP executives often preside over two operations. First, there is the one you think you have—the losses you believe you suffer, the stores you suspect are problematic, and so on. Then, there is the operation that you see after deploying an enterprise IP video solution that ties into data streams such as point-of-sale (POS) systems. It’s not uncommon for these two pictures to be worlds apart.
“Everyone has perceptions about their different locations, which are higher performing and lower performing, but it’s not always grounded in reality,” said Net Payne, chief sales and marketing officer for March Networks, maker of intelligent IP video surveillance and business intelligence applications for retailers. “It’s the most interesting thing about doing a proof-of-concept deployment for a client, watching them learn about key issues that they never even knew were affecting their business.”
It can often be a wake-up call, as it was for one quick-serve restaurant (QSR) that recently deployed March Networks’ Searchlight solution, which combines video, analytics, and POS transaction data for insight into store operations and real-time alerts of suspicious activity. “We rolled out the system in a very programmatic way, and franchisees began to see that they had to fire people, employees who were like family, but who had been stealing for years. And they never knew because they didn’t have that visibility.”
Clamping down on concealed losses isn’t the only immediate value that an intelligent IP video solution can provide. Payne cited another QSR that used the solution to conduct operational audits, and in a short time noticed a problem. A production bottleneck was slowing down customer lines at all their restaurant locations. The video tool identified the culprit—undersized lettuce bins that constantly needed to be refilled. A seemingly small issue, but implementing the fix increased customer throughput, improved customer satisfaction, and immediately helped drive top-line growth.
Indeed, LP executives aren’t the only ones who can manage smarter with the visibility that an intelligent IP video solution provides. Training, customer service, and marketing departments can all benefit. “A picture is often worth a thousand words, and this tool offers any department remote visibility into locations instead of having to go there themselves,” Payne said. For example, one giant grocery chain recently extended permission to their surveillance video platform to the customer service department, which is using it to improve sales training on how to handle challenging customers.
These ancillary uses for IP video provide a distinct benefit for the LP department. It encourages retailers to dip into other budgets to pay for state-of-the-art security systems. “Some of our best customers have been able to fund deployment by using other benefits and tapping into other budgets,” said Payne. He thinks about half of LP execs currently partner with other departments as they shop for IP video solutions, but suspects it will grow alongside a renewed interest in what analytics can do, such as monitor the speed of lines and track customer movement. “Loss prevention can actually be a minority user,” noted Payne.
Still, LP benefits alone are often sufficient to warrant investment. “It’s essentially about finding more fraud faster,” said Payne. Intelligent video lets LP rapidly identify suspicious activity—from irregular point-of-sale transactions to backdoor theft—and match it with corresponding video evidence. “We have a QSR client who spends the first ten minutes of every day reviewing the exception reports, playing the associated video, and getting that instant video verification.” Which is why, even though retailers use the systems to fight disparate types of fraud, users often experience a common benefit—time. “It’s the feedback we get most often, that things that used to take hours now take minutes,” said Payne. It frees up LP staff to conduct more investigations, reduce the monetary threshold of cases they investigate, and more proactively manage security.
Video solutions that tie in POS transaction data—and the visibility it generates—can benefit just about any retailer. Payne says he’s seeing successful deployments in all types, from specialty retailers, QSRs, convenience stores, to big-box retailers. Because the solutions are effective at rooting out employee theft, they are especially beneficial to retailers with high turnover and those that deal with a higher number of cash transactions. They are also valuable to LP departments looking for enhanced analysis and reporting tools and who want to conduct ongoing comparisons across locations.
One key to assessing the true potential value of such a solution is to review how you want to manage your operations, said Payne. “You want to make sure that you want to manage to your key performance indicators and their trend lines. Those are the perfect deployment scenarios,” he said. “If you’re just looking for a single snapshot, and you aren’t going to manage to it, then it’s not the best use of time and money.”
Intelligent video solutions are likely to increase in value as they expand to incorporate more data streams. At the ASIS International conference in September 2016, for example, March Networks announced integration of RFID reader data into its video platform. With no big, macroeconomic growth story on the horizon, retailers are increasingly looking to such solutions to find more profitability in their stores.
It’s common for parents to advise their children, “Don’t go looking for problems.” But that is exactly what loss prevention executives must do if they are to address the security problems they have—and not just the ones they know about. Enterprise IP video solutions with advanced POS integration provide insight into location activity so LP teams can fight previously unseen sources of loss that are hurting the business. “It’s a key point for all retailers—they need to understand what their unique issues are and also to acknowledge that they may not know all the issues they have,” said Payne.