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Making the Most of Loss Prevention Technology, Part 4

Technologies do not manage themselves; they need to be managed with equal passion and energy at all the key stages of their life cycles, from the initial selection for trial through to their eventual decommissioning. Here are the three skills and approaches that I have observed over the years to be the most important to managing technology in retail.

Stakeholder Analysis

Whether you are getting started on trials of a new loss prevention technology or managing the transition from an old technology to a new one, understanding who your stakeholders are and how they are likely to view the technology changes is critical.

Stakeholders are all those inside and outside the organization who will, or who you think will be, impacted by the technology and associated change. For each stakeholder, the following four questions need to be assessed.

What will be the benefit of this technology and associated change to this stakeholder? Using point-of-sale video analytics (a technology that can reduce the size of the scan avoidance problem) as an example of an emerging technology enabled by video and the human resources (HR) function as the example of a stakeholder, the question would be to ask how the HR function could benefit from this technology implementation. How could it make their jobs simpler, save time, or make their targets easier to achieve?

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What could be some negatives of this technology and change for this stakeholder? Using the same technology and function example, how would HR view the potential for more incidents of non-scanning to manage? Would it help them achieve their function’s targets and goals?

What are the possible implications and changes imagined for this stakeholder? If a possible implication and change from the introduction of point-of-sale video analytics were to be the need for HR to develop and execute some new cashier training to reduce non-scanning, how would they respond? Is it one of the HR function’s current priorities? Do the motivation and capacity exist today for this work?

Where on the axis of change does the stakeholder sit today, and for the technology to be a success, where do they need to be? At the start of the project, would the HR function be at the positive end of the scale as enthusiastic supporters of the technology, or would there be hostility at its introduction? Perhaps somewhere in the middle? If HR personnel are deemed hostile to the technology, is it acceptable that they remain hostile, or does their position need to be changed to enthusiastic supporters? Do they just need to be compliant? If this is the case, then the project team needs to identify ways to change their position from negative to positive–or at least to neutral.

With an assessment completed, it will become clearer whom to engage as core team members, whom to involve when needed, and whom to keep informed of the project.

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A consistently surprising benefit of the stakeholder assessment approach is that it can help to identify new value drivers and use cases for the technology not previously imagined. For example, who would have thought that the commercial team could see technologies such as EAS retail pedestals as a source of new advertising revenue, or that video could help verify slip-and-fall claims by shoppers and employees?

Use Case Development and Return on Investment (ROI) Analysis

Technology vendors are critical to the loss prevention industry. The industry relies on their creativity, deep technical knowledge, and expertise for new solutions. However, in my experience, their strengths are not always in the areas of use case development or building persuasive and coherent business cases. This should not be a surprise, not least because these vendors do not know each organization’s business model and priorities, culture and people, work processes, and cost bases as well as each respective organization does.

It follows that the loss prevention team needs to develop those skills, tools, and techniques that allow them to quickly identify new work processes to support the use cases and the different hypotheses as to how the technology can generate value for their organizations.

In my experience, leveraging the strengths of other experts within the organization can help with the workload and the credibility of loss prevention technology projects. A good example would be the finance function; their expert input can help build the business case, while at the same time and because the function is typically trusted and respected by top management, they add credibility to the financial analysis.

- Digital Partner -

Technology Performance Dashboard

As is often said by management, if you want to manage a problem or opportunity, it needs to be measured. The same could be said of technology. Yet it is not obvious to me that that the technologies commonly used by the loss prevention teams are being proactively managed.

For example, with EAS systems, it is rare that I see evidence that key measures related to this technology are being regularly monitored. Examples of the measures would be number of alarms per store, number of alarms per store relative to number of visitors, number of alarm responses, and the number of customer complaints related to EAS received by the customer service department.

With point-of-sale video analytics as another example, if it were to be adopted, a one-page view or dashboard of the key performance metrics could be created to include, for example, the number of incidents per store, the percentage of non-scanning reasons that are malicious versus non-malicious, and the key reason codes for non-scanning.

The real value in tracking performance on technology lies in the ability to identify how and where it is working well and where it is not. With these insights, improvements and action plans can be identified that can ensure the technology evolves and remains relevant in the ever-changing retail context.

Draw Your Own Conclusions

These are just my observations based on the output of the narrative content analysis of technologies promoted at just one industry event. There are limitations to this research.

I am sure you and your team will make your own interpretations on what this analysis tells you, and perhaps this article could be a topic on your agenda for your next team meeting.

As ever, I welcome your comments on all the ideas mentioned and the research itself.

This content is excerpted from an article that originally appeared in LP Magazine EU in 2015. It was updated November 14, 2016. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the article as well.

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