A Tiered Approach to Storefront Protection: Maximizing Results, Minimizing Costs

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Asset protection professionals are experts in assessing risk—at knowing who poses a threat, judging where risks are greatest, and understanding how they are vulnerable. But all that delineation does little good if the solution set for protection isn’t versatile enough to align with those assessments. If there is only one fix, understanding a problem’s granularity isn’t much help.

James Beale, NGS Films and Graphics
James Beale

But retailers need not think of store protection as “one thing,” explained James Beale, cofounding partner at NGS. The company offers a tiered approach to window protection that allows stores to maximize protection while minimizing costs. “It’s a good, better, best approach that provides the right level protection at value,” he said.

In this way, building protection can align with retail’s broader revolution. From supply chain to merchandising, talk of “personalization” and “customization” dominated June’s National Retail Federation (NRF) Converge conference, with stores advised to utilize technology and data for solutions that tailor to their unique operations and fit the specific demands of their customers.

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While this advice may seem unconnected to the task of protecting stores, cost-effective security is premised on a similar principle of customization. All stores need protection, but some need more than others—and even within the same envelope, not all parts of a building require identical hardening.

Managing Risk vs. Budget

“The talk [among asset protection] is always about risk versus budget, and the categorization of locations by risk,” explained Angie Druley, vice president for retail at NGS. “We understand, and it’s the reason we have a tiered approach that can fit the various risk levels.”

Angie Druley
Angie Druley

It’s a more fitted, contemporary approach to storefront security where broad solutions have traditionally dominated—choosing to have an alarm system or not, or a roll-down shutter or not. “Our aim is to be proactive, to either delay access or deny access,” said Beale.

  • Tier 1 features 3M Ultra security window film that offers blast and impact protection, storm mitigation, and delays entry by up to two minutes. “This is our minimum entry level security profile,” said Beale.
  • Tier 2 consists of three layers of protection (Tri-Shield)—3M window film, impact protection adhesive, and exterior security film. “We realized that interior-only is good, but it’s not nearly as good as if we basically encapsulate the glass,” Beale explained. This tier of protection delays break-in attempts by up to six minutes, even against forceful smash-and-grab attempts with bricks or cinder blocks.
  • Tier 3 is Riot Glass™ that denies access. It’s maximum security and riot protection that fits over existing doors and windows and provides retailers with always-there protection against direct assaults and projectiles. It’s worth noting the Riot Glass has passed Miami Dade’s large missile impact testing. In partnership with the manufacturer, NGS brought Riot Glass to market two years ago “It’s truly a new category of product called ‘access denial,’” Beale said.

A tiered approach to security enables retailers to have maximum access denial security—Riot Glass—on their most at-risk areas, while utilizing a security film option on lower risk areas to optimize their budget. With each tier, costs go up incrementally, but performance increases exponentially. The cost of a Tier 2 solution is about double that of Tier 1, but provides more than three times the protection, for example. “It’s a strong value proposition for the Tri-Shield,” said Beale.

Retailers tend to choose from the solutions menu based on their varying level of concern for victimization from burglaries, smash-and-grab, and civil unrest and rioting. “We always have a posture of giving the retailers a choice based on pricing and options, and they make an informed decision based on risk,” said Beale.

A hybrid solution is popular and often a good fit for stores, according to Druley. For example, using Riot Glass on doors and adjacent windows and Tier 2 protection on the remaining windows. “In general, we’ve found that rioters will attack a front door and the next window but then give up,” said Druley. “We understand Riot Glass is a premier solution and doesn’t have to be on every door and window. A hybrid approach can be a good solution for meeting risk and budget.”

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A Fixed-and-Forget-It Solution

A tiered approach is not just a way retailers save money. Unlike roll-down shutters or gates, security window film and Riot Glass don’t need operation by associates, don’t demand upkeep, and don’t require costly repairs. It’s also a fixed-and-forget-it solution—unlike erecting plywood, which, in times of crisis, can cost large stores up to $30,000 for purely temporary protection.

“We had one retail partner that spent $2 million-plus on board-ups in 2020,” said Beale, “which is insane when you think about it, because when you board up a store you disrupt operations, you damage the storefront, and the board-ups don’t necessarily work. There are plenty of examples on video where they’ve simply been disassembled and taken down.”

A new approach to building protection has perhaps never been more necessary—and pressure seems unlikely to ease. Hurricane seasons have been extended, for example, and there were 16,670 demonstrations recorded in the US in 2020, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which caused more than $719,000 in average losses per billion in sales. Experts at NRF Converge said to expect more of the same in the future because social media has permanently removed previous barriers-to-entry for protest groups. And this is all additive to a 68 percent jump in organized retail crime from 2019 to 2020. “These are all drivers that have led us to create these next-level solutions,” said Beale.

A hardened, layered approach to security repels would-be looters, mitigates loss from storms, and prevents costly business disruption. With a tiered approach, it’s possible for stores to maximize protection while minimizing cost.


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