As retail foot traffic spikes during the holidays, so, too, does retail crime. The increasing severity of retail crime that is making waves in the national news will only continue to have a bigger impact on consumers and businesses over the coming weeks.
Fortunately, new technology can help keep employees and customers safe, protect assets, and ease the burden on security and IT teams who are already stretched thin. Here, we discuss four ways to leverage integrated physical security solutions to help keep your stores and employees protected during the holiday season.
1. Turn your cameras into a real-time alarm system
Tackling holiday retail crime will require companies to focus less on pure visibility and more on actionable solutions that detect and respond to threats in real time. One of the simplest and most effective strategies for improving in-store security is to get more out of your existing cameras.
For Verkada customers, the addition of Professional Video Monitoring turns cameras into a real-time alarm system, capable of detecting threats as they happen, rather than simply letting you review footage after the fact.
Organizations can select which cameras should be professionally monitored and when. If a camera detects a person on-site after hours, that clip is sent to a monitoring agent to review and take appropriate action. That could mean notifying your contact list or requesting police dispatch.
Professional video monitoring is an extremely cost-effective solution, particularly for retailers that are used to paying for in-person security guards. One Verkada customer was paying over $1000/month per location for a guard to drive by every few hours. By switching to Verkada, they not only spent 10x less, but also got 24/7 coverage of every corner of their facilities, with a virtual guard on standby to immediately respond if anything suspicious was detected after hours.
2. Detect intruders using doors, sound, and more
For retailers who prefer even more comprehensive intrusion detection, look for a solution that can leverage every element of your physical security system as alarm triggers.
With Verkada, any device can be configured to set off an alarm during the hours when your building is “armed”. If a door is forced open, a person is detected on camera, or a noise level spikes, that will trigger an alarm. Verkada also has a complete suite of intrusion sensors - including motion, door contact, and glass break - to detect unwanted visitors.
Video monitoring can and should be layered on top of these hardware systems to provide an extra layer of protection, as well as to eliminate false alarms. Many police departments now impose heavy fines after the first one or two false alarm calls. One retailer was paying $150,000 per year in false alarm fees across 42 locations. Verkada’s cameras and professional monitoring helped them eliminate these fines.
Additionally, an increasing number of jurisdictions will give priority police response to video-verified alarms, helping to reduce the time from break-in to police arrival. If the alarm is not verified, some police departments will not respond at all.
Video monitoring can be an expensive add-on to standard alarm monitoring services, however, so look for a solution that bundles the two at no extra cost and does not have a cap on how many events can be reviewed.
3. Don't forget intrusion deterrence
Regardless of what intrusion detection method a retailer chooses, it’s crucial to also have an effective response plan in place. Crimes like smash-and-grabs can be over within minutes. Even if an alarm is immediately raised, burglars are often gone before the police can arrive.
To protect against these types of events, intrusion deterrence capabilities are key. In many cases, deterrence devices - such as sirens or strobe lights - can scare off intruders before they can do damage.
Look for a natively integrated solution that will let you configure these deterrence devices as automated alarm responses. In these time-sensitive situations, you need devices that can easily communicate with each other, rather than relying on unstable third-party integrations or needing an employee to manually take action.
Verkada’s BX21 Wireless Relay and BP41 Alarm Panel allow customers to incorporate any third-party wired deterrence devices into their Alarms solution. If an alarm is raised, the deterrence device will automatically be turned on, serving as an immediate response in situations where seconds count.
4. Equip employees with integrated, customizable panic buttons
A less discussed but equally important consequence of retail crime is the heavy toll that it takes on employees. A 2021 study reported that 86 percent of asset protection managers said that an organized retail criminal had verbally threatened an associate with bodily harm, and 76 percent reported that an associate had been physically assaulted.
Whether it’s an armed break-in or simply a belligerent customer, retailers should always provide a way for employees to immediately and discreetly call for help if they feel threatened. This is particularly important in higher-risk settings, such as opening or closing shifts or stores in higher crime areas.
Panic buttons are a simple way to ensure that employees are able to request assistance when they need it, whether that means notifying on-site staff or requesting immediate police dispatch.
Panic buttons should be wireless and easily carried around by employees. Buttons mounted at the cash register or in back rooms are important, but employees moving around a store should be equally able to call for help.
Look for a panic button solution that offers powerful and flexible response options, so you can customize them to fit your needs. For example, Verkada’s wireless panic button natively integrates with our access control system, allowing employees to lock down doors at the press of a button and immediately secure the premises from external threats. Buttons can also be paired with in-store cameras, allowing off-site managers or security teams to immediately pull up a live video feed of the area in which a button is pressed. To avoid accidental presses, look for a panic button that can be set to require something like a triple press or press-and-hold.
Investing in real-time security
The effects of retail crime have far-reaching consequences. Product theft and property damage can cut painfully into a company's margins. Employee retention becomes harder in unsafe environments, requiring companies to spend more time and money on hiring and training new employees.
Retailers relying solely on security cameras, or trying to patch together disjointed alarm, access control, and camera systems, risk incidents slipping through the cracks or being unable to respond to threats that are detected.
As the holiday rush approaches, retailers investing in a modern, integrated security solution that combines AI-enabled cameras, professional video monitoring, panic buttons, and automated intrusion deterrence stand the best chance of preventing break-ins, reducing shrinkage, and - most importantly - keeping employees safe. As for IT and security teams, the ease of use, remote management, and real-time capabilities of platforms like Verkada allow them to enjoy a little more peace of mind during this season.