You should know something: I was out. I was on the beach and enjoying life surrounded by grandkids. So, what’s important enough in Retail America to bring me out of retirement? The answer is simple. Given the unprecedented, deadly retail violence and loss, I want to help today’s skeptics understand why the latest controversial technologies are vital for life safety and loss prevention.
Why listen to me? I have already helped spearhead several controversial technologies during my long loss prevention career. You may recall how many skeptics fought retailers’ use of CCTV. They invoked “Big Brother.” By the time I retired, CCTV was ubiquitous, its use was expected, even demanded by the public.
Loss prevention innovation requires a team effort. During my 34-year career, I had the distinct pleasure of working alongside LP visionaries. I sold CCTV to Mike Lamb and Mark Stinde. I sold EAS to Jim Lee and Claude Verville. I sold burglar alarms to Bob Oberosler and Bill Turner. I helped these gentlemen start the Loss Prevention Foundation, and together we grew Loss Prevention Magazine into an industry-leading publication. I was the first vendor to earn the Certified Protection Professional designation. I hope you’ll consider my resume and the fine company I’ve kept as I share my thoughts about solutions to today’s enormous problems.
Also, consider the various groups that must align to understand and solve today’s problems. My loss prevention colleagues arrive at every management meeting with increasingly horrible videos showing wanton violence, theft, and lawlessness. Senior members of the legal team sit stunned as they watch product fly out the door, stolen by individuals with no apparent fear of the legal system. The attorneys must weigh the relative risks of actual deadly violence inflicted on employees and customers, of actual losses soaring into the billions, with the potential risks posed by proactive technologies.
Ultimately, it’s the CEOs who must decide how to proceed. Retailers have closed locations in many cities, but that tactic may not sit well with shareholders in the long run. Consequently, CEOs are turning to LP leadership and asking, “How do we take back our stores?”
A combination of modern technologies—face matching, self-checkout mis-scan solutions, and cart locking among them—delivers some undeniable answers to that question. It was face matching, the AI-driven cornerstone technology that provides active threat management and investigative tools, that drew me back into the mix as a FaceFirst consultant. But it wasn’t until I understood how this sometimes‑controversial technology integrates with other solutions that I understood its full power and their combined benefit. Mike Lamb has shaped and promoted an LP solution ecosystem concept for several years at Kroger, and it’s being embraced and adapted throughout retail today.
Whether we’re considering the tragic mass shooting at King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado, or the thirty looters who recently ruined a Nordstrom store in Los Angeles, it has become critically important to know who is in your stores. Face matching helps retailers identify the relatively few individuals who cause loss or other harm and focus limited resources on them. Face matching benefits start at the store entrance and integrate with loss prevention solutions that prevent self-checkout theft and cart pushouts. These are just a few of the solutions in the broader retail LP ecosystem.
Retailers are in the business of selling product and assuring their employees and customers that their sales floor is safe and secure. The legal department’s job is to illuminate the risk factors associated with employing new technologies. It is my considered opinion that the pendulum has swung too far in the favor of the criminal, and it needs to be pulled back to the center.
CEOs want safe stores and sales. Lawyers want to minimize risk. I want to make the world a safer place for my grandchildren—the latest just arrived!—and spend more time with them. My suggestion to accomplish all three goals? I urge retailers to learn from industry veterans and their peers who are building the retail LP ecosystem and have already deployed modern technologies that are helping America’s retailers take back their stores.