Sponsored by BSI
Technology has changed the face of retail in many ways in recent years. From the way that we shop and purchase goods to the way that we manage the temperature control in the stores, we rely on the innovations of technology to enhance the customer experience and improve the way that we do business. This retail trend is critically underscored through our loss prevention technology and the many ways that we protect resources and support the business. Our loss prevention technology must remain current with the latest retail trends and one step ahead of those with malicious intentions that are constantly seeking new and creative ways to prey on our business and our customers in order to line their own pockets.
As both a proactive deterrent and an interactive staple for our investigative efforts, closed circuit television, or CCTV, now more commonly referred to as video surveillance, has been a valuable asset within the loss prevention arsenal for many years. We use these tools to overtly protect areas throughout the stores as well as providing a means to track customer traffic and improve our service and marketing strategies. We monitor our parking areas and the perimeter of our facilities to reinforce safety and protection for our customers and employees. We also use these systems covertly to assist in our investigative efforts and monitor the stores for criminal activity. As a whole, our video surveillance strategies have been highly effective in helping to protect our stores and quell the tide of retail crime.
Yet in a world that is continuously evolving, there is an ongoing need to move forward. Especially considering the dynamic needs and growing challenges of the retail market there is a relentless demand to do more with less—pushing our limitations, our teams and our budgets to develop solutions that both conserve our resources and maximize our results. Working smarter has become more than a strategy; it has become the norm for every successful organization. And in many ways, loss prevention technology must lead the way by providing the tools that keep us ahead of the curve.
Fortunately, we have thought leaders that help us move forward. We have solution providers that are diligently working to provide us with the loss prevention technology that helps us keep pace by using the everyday tools at our disposal to enhance the capabilities of our video surveillance systems.
Cloud-Based, Hosted Video
A cloud-based, hosted video solution should allow retailers to store and view both live and recorded video remotely from a secure connection via smart phones, tablets or any computer with an Internet browser. It is important to ensure that the solution supports all major browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. Video from an IP camera is automatically sent to a secure server via the Internet. With a true cloud-based, hosted video solution, the only equipment a retailer will need on-site is the cameras, a network switch and an Internet connection. If the retailer wants to use existing analog cameras, an encoder for the camera will also be needed. Remember if using IP cameras, all not all of them optimize bandwidth equally. A quality camera may compress video up to 50% more efficiently than a less expensive alternative. A cloud-based hosted video solution with quality cameras can deliver a cost-effective way to store video without having to purchase and maintain additional onsite servers, DVRs or NVRs.
Users should also be able export content via the hosting service’s website, mobile or desktop applications. As long as the user has access to the Internet, he or she can simply login with a user name and password and view high quality, high definition video at any time from any place.
This type of solution is ideal for large or small retail stores. Locations such as at convenience stores, gas stations, and other small 1-4 camera installations can benefit from no DVR/Server being installed onsite, thus removing hard drive failure concerns and costly maintenance fees. Larger retail applications such as hardware or department stores can benefit from a hosted solution in much different ways. Adding 1-4 cameras to a location for security redundancy, cloud-hosted analytics or even help with PCI compliance. In any case, the solution should be easily installed with the ability to grow with the business and add value.
There are numerous benefits possible with cloud hosting, including increased reliability and accessibility, seamless scalability and cost efficiency. Offsite storage frees up a lot of space/bandwidth without impacting the quality of the video. The solution should provide flexible storage time with different resolutions and frame rates. In addition, the service provider should be able to manage system maintenance as well as storage of the recorded data. The additional investment is then limited to cameras or encoders and an Internet connection, instead of having to maintain a recording and monitoring station locally.
Finally, it is important to select a solution that provides a true mobile application. Some solutions offer mobile support, which is different from an app. Having apps for Android and iOS devices is something users should look for, not just mobile browsers, as the feature sets and ease of use are usually better with an actual app.
“There are a number of service providers that offer a cloud-based, hosted video solution with many different price points,” stated Mike Dunn, vice president business development, video division for BSI. “When selecting a service that will work best for an individual retailer’s application, it is important to identify a solution that was specifically designed to address the challenges that retailers face and a solution provider that is focused solely on the industry.
Maximize Your Investments
In a world where time management, resource management, and operational efficiency have become so vital to retail success we must continuously explore solutions that allow us to become more effective business partners. Retail loss prevention continues to evolve, and every one of us must come to accept the exciting advancements that are leading us to a new age of retail. By keeping our eyes and our minds open to the possibilities, we only expand our professional reach and increase our overall value to the organization. Technology isn’t just about doing things differently—it’s about doing things better.
Every loss prevention professional has a responsibility to search for the tools that will help them keep pace with an ever-changing retail environment. By the same respect, we must also seek out solutions and partnerships that will help us learn and grow. Discovering solution providers that are both thought leaders and practical educators helps our team and our program to move forward and puts us in the best position to be successful. Amplify the possibilities by maximizing your investments.