Like many, I have fond childhood memories of visits to the corner store. It was one of the first stores I was allowed to go into without adult supervision, and I loved heading there with my friends for an ice cream bar on a hot summer day.
While that corner store experience from years ago lives on in my mind, today’s convenience stores (c-stores) have evolved significantly in terms of the products and services they offer, and the technologies they use to operate efficiently. Video surveillance is one of those technologies. Almost nonexistent in most c-stores when I was a kid, video systems now play a critical role in helping owners keep their stores secure, ensure compliance, and stem losses from theft.
In case you’re thinking that video is a nice-to-have capability, but one that most c-store owners simply don’t have time to tackle, keep reading. Here are just a few examples of how savvy c-store owners are using intelligent video systems today to protect their stores—and their hard-earned profits.
Intelligent Video Systems Keep Stores Secure and Compliant
Given that the majority of c-store crimes are economically motivated, deterrents do make a difference. A thief who knows he or she may be caught ‘on camera’ committing a crime will often look for a less risky location to rob, especially with the high-definition image quality most IP cameras are capable of capturing today.
Installing a reliable intelligent video system in combination with other deterrents (such as bullet-resistant barriers, bright lighting in parking areas, and cash-handling policies that reduce the amount a criminal could walk away with) can make your c-store an unattractive target for thieves. It conveys clearly that security is a priority for your business, which in turn helps keep your employees and customers safe.
Intelligent video systems can also help owners ensure that employees are following proper health and safety procedures, which could otherwise result in hefty fines or lawsuits. While years ago this would have required owners to review hours of recorded video to observe employee behavior, there are much more time-efficient options available today.
With some video solutions, owners can set up automated audit reports, complete with relevant ‘snapshot’ images from recorded video and detail including the date, time, and location where the image was captured. If an owner wants to confirm that mats are being placed as required in front of doors to mitigate slippery floors, they can use an audit report to confirm that that is happening. Similarly, if employees are supposed to wear orange safety vests when working outside to pick up lots or change trash cans, an operations audit report can easily show whether that policy is being followed, thereby turning your video system into a preventative tool that reduces risk to your employees, customers and your business.
Intelligent Video Systems Spot Theft
Many c-store owners struggle to catch losses from theft, whether at the cash, the gas pump or in inventory. Intelligent video systems can help with this, especially when the solution is integrated with a c-store’s point-of-sale (POS) system and optional analytics like presence detection.
Voids of pre-paid fuel transactions, for example, are a common concern for c-store owners, as it’s usually a time-consuming process to determine whether or not a customer actually filled up. This is where the combination of video and POS receipt data really helps, enabling operators to set up a report that will automatically provide a list of all voided pre-paid fuel transactions along with links to the recorded video.
The solution eliminates the need for owners to shift through hundreds of recorded receipts each day to find the voided transactions they’re seeking. It also makes it easy to review the recorded video to see if the customer actually pumped gas, and if an employee received the payment—and perhaps pocketed it later after voiding the transaction.
Similarly, owners can use intelligent video systems to find instances where employees are activating gift or phone cards without a customer present. This might mean that employees need more training, as most c-stores won’t activate cards for customers who call in over the phone. More likely, however, it might reveal intentional theft, in which case an owner can use the solution to review other transactions by the same employee to see if this was an isolated incident or a pattern of behavior.
Missing inventory is another area that can impact profits. Determining where the items went can sometimes be a frustrating, almost impossible task. However, video can often provide answers. A quick video audit of a delivery of supplies, for example, might reveal that although an employee signed for twelve boxes, only ten boxes actually came off the truck.
In another scenario, a solution set up to record video each time a back door is opened would make it easy for an owner to see whether food or other items are going out the back door—perhaps stolen by an employee or passed on to one of their friends.
Protect Your Profits
One thing that hasn’t changed from my childhood days is the effort it takes to run a successful c-store business. When used intelligently, video surveillance can be an invaluable tool for c-store owners—helping them ensure that the profits they worked so hard to achieve aren’t lost to theft, liability claims, and other risks.