ISC West 2023 is right around the corner, and with it comes an overwhelming number of opportunities to learn and grow as a loss prevention professional.
One highlight you definitely won’t want to miss is a session on the retail cyclone and how to combat it with an open platform VMS at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, March 30.
“We’ve been talking to all of our customers about the impact the last two years is having on retailers, how it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and we’ve coined that as the retail cyclone,” said Keith Aubele, chief security officer at Salient Systems and founder of the Nav1gate Group, who will be leading this session at ISC West. “Because this is such a recurring theme for us, we felt it was time to share this info with the masses and get them thinking and believing along the lines that we believe, which is that you need to prepare. While we feel the cyclone is hitting us from every angle, there will be more in the future to prepare for.”
Dale White, another speaker for this session, retired from Walmart after a 28-year career in loss prevention, where his responsibility was to help coordinate, purchase, select, identify, and bring technology into Walmart for the entire organization to use, so he has a vast knowledge about the perspective of the end user.
Grant Cowan, director of national accounts at Salient Systems, will also be a part of the session, offering what he knows from working with large retail entities.
“If you take a look at retail, it’s taken shots throughout its entire creation,” Aubele continued. “All retailers face shots and hits, but at no time in history have we faced such things as COVID-19, exportation issues with China, logistics and distribution supply chain crisis, labor shortages, high turnover, inflation and rising interest rates, production shortages because of the Ukraine war, shrink and loss, the escalation of physical crimes and retail aggression, and ORC, one of the top topics today in retail because of the impact it’s having on shrink. And then you have the reduction in prosecution and reduced felony thresholds in major communities as they try to lighten the load on prisons. That’s the cyclone and it’s literally costing retailers their ability to perform today, and that’s why we’re seeing these fallouts.”
Once you get past the cost and initial discussions surrounding what security can bring to a retail business, White explained, you reach a point where your dilemma is providing a level of security that keeps everyone safe and shrink low, while not impeding the customer’s experience.
“Everybody goes through metal detectors in courthouses, and you expect them there, but when it comes to retail, that’s not going to work,” White said. “You have to find a way to make the customers’ experience as pleasurable as possible without the imposition of security.”
This is where an effective video management system (VMS) comes into play.
“VMS tech over the last several years has made some significant advancements in its ability to provide analysis on everything from merchandise movement to human behavior as people travel throughout the store,” White continued. “That customer experience is going to be the major stumbling block for retail when it comes to implementing any kind of security, whether it’s a physical barrier or not. An open platform VMS is one way to keep things secure without ruining the customer experience. You can monitor merchandise and whether or not it moves using AI and alerting store staff if something happens. Your ability to keep inventory is another part of that cyclone and another area where VMS with the right plugins can monitor inventory on the shelves. Incident investigations and access control, those kinds of things can be baked into a VMS platform as well, and it’s the customer experience that rushes to your bottom line—if you provide a good experience you’re going to sell merchandise and make money. And that’s the number one consideration for a retailer.”
Not only can an open platform VMS make retailers more money by creating more sales through an improved customer experience, but it can also help LP teams do more with less.
“Our VMS system, because it’s open platform, has the ability to engage elements that are beneficial to operations, merchandisers, logistics, and distribution,” said Grant Cowan. “So if you can get those individuals on board to see the tools they can access and make them a part of the conversation, then you can share the cost throughout the whole organization, rather than it just being an LP cost. And when you look at our platform, we are very affordable when it comes to the bang for the buck.”
According to Aubele, the retail cyclone will only continue to grow worse over the next 18-24 months, largely due to the impending recession.
Thankfully, having an open platform VMS will allow retailers to continue adapting to future challenges.
“The good thing about an open platform VMS is that analytics and AI are going to rule the future,” Aubele said. “We are able to integrate with every one of these analytic platforms. We have the ability to have software that will identify someone carrying a weapon into the store. That’s the future of retail, and that’s how we’ll combat all of those points of the retail cyclone. It won’t eliminate those factors, but it will mitigate the impact they have.”
Learn more about ISC West here, and make sure to add “The Retail Cyclone. It’s Real, and How to Combat it with an Open Platform VMS” on Thursday, March 30 at 11:15 a.m. to your calendar.