Three years after the last regularly scheduled ISC West, the massive physical security conference returned to Las Vegas last week, March 22-25, bigger and better than ever.
After a significantly smaller, delayed ISC West show last July, many were unsure of what to expect at this year’s conference—we were all experiencing an intense resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic just a couple months ago, after all—but people are ready to get back to business. More than 500 exhibitors were on display, and while the conference organizers have yet to release an official number, the word on the show floor was that around 22,000 people ended up attending. And though a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination was required for entry, there wasn’t a mask in sight, and no one seemed hesitant to handshake.
“It was great stepping into the way back machine,” said Mark Berger, president and chief product officer of the Securitech Group. “Folks acted as if nothing was different than ISC West 2019, and booth activity was as we like it—busy with new and old friends.”
“It was exciting to be back, and traffic showed that ISC West is back in a big way,” said Justin Wilmas, president of Netwatch North America. “There was significant traffic, fantastic energy, and excitement about being back together in person throughout the three-day event.”
Perhaps most exciting about ISC West from a loss prevention perspective, though, was many companies’ obvious increased focus on creating advanced security solutions for the retail space.
From ADT to Bosch to Genetec and more, almost every vendor we spoke with had a plan for expanding more into retail security.
“Throughout the pandemic, the need for security automation from both the operational and loss prevention standpoint has increased,” said Kyle Hurt, senior director of sales, US, Genetec. “On the operational side, an increase in self-checkout and other forms of POS throughput have required new technologies to reduce shrinkage. On the security side, the need for proactive technology to deter, identify, and detect organized retail crime gangs involved in smash and grab theft has come to the forefront.”
Technologies such as predictive analytics, automatic license plate readers, body-worn cameras, and video sharing platforms can help coordinate efforts and lead to the successful prosecution of these perpetrators, Hurt added.
Vendors see retail as a huge opportunity, especially with the increase in crime making headlines in the past couple of years.
“Between workplace violence at their offices, shooting threats at their distribution centers, and theft and violence at their stores, loss prevention professionals have a lot on their plate,” said Kendra Noonan, director of communications at Shooter Detection Systems. “We’ve met the majority of our retail customers at ISC West, but they also continue to have to be reliant on the loss prevention-focused shows to find all the solutions they need. I don’t think that this means the security industry doesn’t have the right focus on retail—I think it is a very complex market that requires many different solutions.”
“The security industry, and in particular IPVideo, has been increasing their focus on the retail space with solutions that can reduce shrinkage, make facilities safer, make retail space healthier and staff more efficient while improving the customer experience,” said David Antar, president of IPVideo Corporation. “The security industry has matured and the technology has improved to now leverage analytics from cameras and IoT sensors that make retail spaces smarter.”
Many exhibitors said they have always been invested in retail, but it’s loss prevention professionals’ interest in increasingly advanced security solutions that has brought retail to the forefront of ISC West.
“Retail has always been a big market for physical security by it’s very nature of protecting physical assets,” said Ryan Schonfeld, founder and CEO of HiveWatch. “Now, retailers are seeing a consistent increase in organized crime, costing them an average of $700,000 for every $1 billion in sales. Not only that, but criminals are becoming more intelligent, utilizing social media and other forms of communication to coordinate their attacks. As these criminals get smarter, the security industry needs to follow suit. If the security industry isn’t focusing on the retail space, they’re really missing where there’s a huge opportunity to help.”
“The industry’s focus on the retail vertical continues to grow, fueled at least in part by AIoT,” said Dan Reese, vertical market manager at Bosch Security and Safety Systems. “The data provided by cameras and other sensors can drive improvements in asset protection and loss prevention, but can also provide valuable insights for merchandising and operations.”
Multiple exhibitors stressed the marketing opportunities that advanced security technologies can provide retailers.
“The retail industry has faced significant hurdles over the past two years, and many of these challenges can be solved with video surveillance,” said John Rezzonico, CEO, Edge360. “Beyond security-focused cases, video also holds enormous potential for retail marketing and customer service departments. For example, retailers can use heat mapping to determine what endcap attracts the highest amount of foot traffic. They can also use video data to monitor guest levels to allocate staff resources more efficiently. The retail industry is at the forefront of using video for use cases beyond security, making it an exciting market today.”
An exciting market, indeed! We already can’t wait to see what sort of focus on retail there will be at next year’s ISC West, scheduled for March 28-31, 2023.