BJ's Wholesale Club introduced the warehouse club concept to New England in 1984 and has since expanded to become a warehouse club operator in the eastern U.S. Headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, the company operates more than 180 locations in 15 states, 102 gas stations and three main distribution centers and sells everything from general merchandise to fresh meat and perishables across its retail enterprise.
The Business Challenge
In a store environment as large as BJ's Wholesale Club, which Charles Delgado, VP of Asset Protection for BJ's, said “essentially a working warehouse,” response time to potential incidents is paramount. Each BJ's location employed an older video system comprised of a PC-based DVR and analog cameras to monitor its stores. On average, the system was comprised of 32 cameras per store, typically four PTZs and 28 fixed cameras. But the legacy system was quickly reaching end of life and BJ's found it was spending more time resolving issues with its DVRs, than using them to its advantage.
“We faced a lot of challenges with the old system,” Delgado said. “Maintenance and upkeep was needed often and the system wasn't scalable. The DVRs maxed out quickly and the length of storage was limited. Facing these issues on a regular basis, we determined that an organization like ours required a futureproof solution. We needed to begin deploying a platform that would meet the needs of the business downstream.”
More so, with plans to keep growing the chain and new stores opening in various locations, BJ's needed to rethink their video surveillance strategy for new installations. Thus, in order to meet future development plans and replace failing older technology, BJ's management embarked on a search for a solution that would meet their current security, safety and asset protection needs.
Retail Safety, Security and Loss Prevention
At BJ's Wholesale Club, maintaining a safe and secure environment is of utmost importance. Large equipment, such as forklifts, is frequently used to transport goods for restocking and products are commonly stored on large pallets. The combination of a large space, frequent goods restocking and large machinery can lead to accidents but BJ's is committed to minimizing the possibility of incidents before they can occur.
But the company's DVR system could not effectively help BJ's maintain the secure and safe environment for its team members and customers. Poor video quality led to lengthy and ineffective investigations; video storage space was limited; and bandwidth limitations restricted the ability to remotely view surveillance footage.
BJ's needed a solution that could help it identify theft, fraud, intrusion and trespassing throughout its various stores, gas stations and distribution facilities. The system also needed to be scalable in case camera deployments were expanded and be able to store video for a specific time designated by BJ's, and not by standard system capabilities. The retail giant was also interested in moving to an IP solution to leverage the company's network infrastructure.
“BJ's wanted to be able to review video remotely and the capability to accomplish that from an IP standpoint is much greater than with traditional surveillance systems. This capability would enable other departments to leverage the system during investigations,” said Patrick O'Leary, Director of Sales, Eastern Region at Checkpoint Systems, BJ's integrator and partner. “The company also wanted to build off its growing IP infrastructure, making an IP-enabled security solution an ideal choice.”
And there were other needs: BJ's required technology that could provide the flexibility to integrate video systems with other applications and provide remote monitoring capabilities.
While on the search for new technology, Delgado also stressed that a new solution should help the loss prevention and security teams conduct more effective investigations. Searching through the sheer volume of video BJ's collects can be a time-consuming process. With that in mind, BJ's needed a system that would have the capability to integrate with the company's PoS solution to link video with transaction information.
With the help of Checkpoint Systems, BJ's decided that Genetec's IP video surveillance solution with network cameras from Axis Communications was the ideal choice for the retail company.
The Perfect Solution
Genetec management software is an enterprise IP video surveillance solution that provides management of digital video, audio and data across an IP network, assisting retailers with controlling and limiting loss. In addition, a single enterprise system can accommodate thousands of cameras and enables BJ's to set its own parameters for storage and recording schedules. By far, the solution met all of BJ's current needs and also offered areas for expansion in the future.
Currently, BJ's has deployed the system at 75 locations and plans to have another 60 locations online over the next year for a total of 135 locations at the project's completion. “The IP video surveillance system was initially installed in BJ's new stores,” O'Leary said. “However, we are focusing our efforts on replacing the obsolete DVRs, and installing encoders to leverage the analog cameras in existing stores.”
Since the solution is compatible with network-camera brands, BJ's chose their preferred brand. They deployed a mix of Axis Communications' cameras because of their reliable image quality and ease-of-installation. BJ's also leveraged its existing analog cameras, which are being converted to digital streams with Axis encoders. All of BJ's cameras networked to Genetec management are monitored locally within the stores and are available for remote viewing from BJ's corporate office, providing enhanced visibility into each store from a remote location.
The recording and retrieval of video is of critical importance in the retail environment, as every time a camera or a recording device is down is an opportunity for loss. The failover and redundancy features ensure BJ's has access to live and archived data at all times, limiting the chance that an occurrence of shoplifting or employee theft occurs unrecorded. Failover servers can automatically assume all functions of a failed component, while redundant servers continuously record all or only high-priority camera feeds.
BJ's is leveraging the strengths of the solution to review video for investigations purposes and also on a nonincident basis to gather an understanding of where a store could modify its processes before a loss or incident occurs.
Because operators are using the solution for multiple purposes, including conducting investigations and trending data, the system's ease-of-use was a significant factor in BJ's decision to deploy the system.
The platform also enables BJ's to take advantage of the highest quality images, enabling security professionals to accurately identify potential suspects, vehicles, merchandise and even currency denominations, inside and outside its stores.
“This success story is a compliment to both Checkpoint and Genetec as well as BJ's,” O'Leary said. “We all came together and learned the processes, and at the end of the day because of this teamwork, we were able to deploy a solution that helps BJ's create a safer environment.”