US nonprofit organization minimizes retail shrinkage with IP-based surveillance

US nonprofit organization minimizes retail shrinkage with IP-based surveillance
Goodwill Industries International, is one of America's oldest charities. Founded in 1902 by Rev. Edgar Helms on the philosophy of "a hand up, not a hand out", Goodwill today is a $3.2 billion nonprofit that aims to improve economic self-sufficiency through job training, employment placement and other services for those who have disabilities, lack education or face employment challenges.
 
A major source of funding for the organization is its 2,400 Goodwill stores in the U.S. and Canada. The stores offer the basics - jeans, business attire, infant and children's clothing, house wares and appliances, furniture and more - at a great value. However, like all retail outlets, these stores suffer from shrinkage, especially at the point-of-sale (POS). Goodwill also witnesses theft at its unattended drop-off sites where donors deposit items for re-sale.

Confronted with this predicament, Goodwill's Northwest-North Carolina (NWNC) chapter took the proactive step of migrating from traditional analog CCTV systems in 40 of its stores to IP video surveillance systems from Toshiba.

The year-long project began when Versa Technologies, a Winston-Salem, NC-based solutions provider, installed a Toshiba business communication system in the NWNC chapter's newly built regional operations center in Winston-Salem, NC.  
 
Clay Poindexter, President of Versa, explained: "We let their loss prevention team know that we do more than business communication systems; we design and install IP video surveillance, structured cabling, professional A/V, and much more. That sparked a dialogue about how to address POS security within the stores and at their many drop-off centers, most of which were free-standing and others that were incorporated into the stores."
 
Goodwill's loss prevention team told Poindexter that the chapter had lately opened up a number of stores in more upscale communities. This outreach effort was helping to change the image the general public held regarding Goodwill stores. However, the move to better neighborhoods had also brought with it higher value drop-off items such as flat-screen TVs. Sadly, there had also been an increased incidence of theft.

Versa used the opportunity to introduce Goodwill to IP video surveillance, a major advancement over the analog camera/DVR solution it currently had in-place. Goodwill recognized the potential of network cameras after Versa  deployed a system at its regional operations center, alongside the new business communication system. Management now understood that it could afford to install IP at all of its stores without the hassles and on-going maintenance costs of traditional CCTV.

Versa recommended the deployment of an IP camera/NVR system in each store over existing data networks that could be accessed remotely by the loss prevention team back at Goodwill headquarters in Winston-Salem to give it visibility of all in-store activity. Versa's camera placement diagram resulted in more than 95 percent of each store being monitored. Each store has a total of between 10-13 Toshiba IP cameras depending on square footage and the number of check-out lines. Larger stores have as many as twenty. Versa installed Toshiba IK-WB21A PTZ cameras to provide high-resolution sweeps of the sales floor, while fixed Toshiba IK-WB30A day/night IP cameras were installed to watch the checkout areas, and to monitor the drop-off boxes from inside the store. Outside, Toshiba IK-WB02A cameras protected by environmental housings were installed to watch the drop-off boxes.

Another requirement of Goodwill was that cash handling needed to be closely monitored to spot potential fraud from employees and customers. For that reason Versa installed a Toshiba 16-channel, 1TB NVS NVR in each store equipped with Surveillix TransCapture POS software. TransCapture provides Goodwill managers with needed security at every cash register. It overlays text onto real-time video so that every detail sales transaction, including price, specific items purchased, the quantity of those items, cashier number, can be recorded. With just a few simple clicks, the manager has immediate access to all necessary transaction and video information. Alerts can be customized to notify loss prevention that a specific item is being rung-up by showing special colors to the on-screen font, speaker beeps, pop-ups or relay triggers. 
 
This was an especially important feature for Goodwill. Back at headquarters the loss prevention team was required to visually inspect the video each time a cashier had a no sale, void or refund transaction. Searching for a specific event took twenty minutes or longer when Goodwill relied upon analog cameras and a DVR. Today, thanks to Toshiba TransCapture, a single transaction can be pinpointed within seconds.

"Surveillix Central Station allowed the loss prevention staff to access all of the NVS units and download higher quality images faster over existing data networks," said Poindexter.  "The POS System fully integrates so that the loss prevention staff can easily search thousands of transactions to find all of the No Sale, Void & Refund Transactions to ensure there is a client at the register."

In the time since the system was installed, theft in the stores and at drop-off boxes has noticeably been reduced and video recorded has successfully been used to prosecute offenders. Goodwill's policy regarding thieves is simple: 100 percent prosecution. Every item stolen represents the loss of hope for someone desperately in need of help.

Says Poindexter: "I believe that Goodwill Industries of NWNC chose Toshiba because of the many features that we demonstrated. The integration with the POS as well as the ability to access all of the NVS units over the existing data network was key to their decision. They received better quality images and were able to scan the stores using the PTZ Cameras. The system was easy to use for the loss prevention team and saved them all time by being able to search for specific events that were logged from the POS System. They were also excited to have a partner like Toshiba and Versa Technologies that were willing to work with them on their applications as well as help them implement new technology."  
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