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With holiday shopping season here, retail security takes center stage

With holiday shopping season here, retail security takes center stage
While retail stores can rake in more revenue during this busy time, they are also faced with increased threats and security challenges. Security solutions, then, becomes critical.
Needless to say, the Christmas shopping season has arrived. While retail stores can rake in more revenue during this busy time, they are also faced with increased threats and security challenges. Security solutions, then, becomes critical.
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. The day after, known as Black Friday, typically marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Indeed, the period between November and the end of the year is usually the busiest for retailers across the globe. According to Online Dasher, holiday shopping can account for up to 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sales.

Security challenges

However, increased business and shoppers also bring security issues and challenges for retailers. According to Tyson Johns, SVP of Security Monitoring at Interface Systems, heading into the holiday season, the iSOCs (interactive security operation centers) get an increase in reports for the following crimes:
•    Shoplifting: Shoplifting is one of the most common retail crimes. It can lead to significant losses for retailers, impacting their profitability;
•    Robbery: Robberies can be traumatic for employees and customers and may result in financial losses and security-related expenses;
•    Burglary: With burglaries, retailers often experience property damage and financial losses from stolen goods and repairs;
•    Credit Card Fraud: Retailers can incur chargebacks and financial losses from these fraudulent transactions;
“The increase in criminal activity reported to the iSOC typically starts in November and peaks around the middle to late December before trailing off in mid-January,” Johns said.

Security comes to rescue

Security, then, becomes a vital element in retail operations, especially during this time of the year. It should be pointed out that for the most part, retailers are employing a “hands-off approach” when dealing with suspected criminals. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2023 Retail Security Survey, 41 percent of respondents indicated that their employees are not permitted to stop or apprehend shoplifters in any way.
“Retailers are concerned about their employees being hurt and potential legal liabilities and lawsuits if their employees attempt to apprehend shoplifters or confront individuals involved in criminal activities. Physical confrontations can lead to injuries, lawsuits, and negative publicity. A simple piece of merchandise is never worth someone's life. Many suspects are desperate and will avoid getting caught at all costs. We have seen a variety of examples where associates get involved and have gotten injured as a result,” Johns said.
This, then, makes security technologies and solutions all the more important. “This is why retailers should invest in loss prevention strategies, such as surveillance cameras, security systems, anti-shoplifting measures, and interactive security monitoring services. These measures are safer and often more effective at deterring crime and identifying perpetrators,” Johns said.

Virtual guard services

More and more, retailers are eying virtual guard services to handle their security. Virtual guard services entail remote security professionals using security cameras, speakers and microphones installed at the stores to offer discreet, always-on surveillance without putting store associates at risk. Virtual guards use a retailer's security equipment for monitoring, or they can ask their managed services provider to provide the equipment.
“Virtual security guards are often used in situations where it is not practical or cost-effective to have a physical security guard on site at all times. Instead, the virtual security guard uses advanced video and audio surveillance systems to monitor the property and identify potential security threats in real time. These services allow trained security professionals to identify threats such as argumentative customers, loiterers at the store’s perimeter, or those intent on committing theft. Should a security event happen, they can issue an immediate audio warning, interact directly with store employees to guide them, or call law enforcement,” Johns said.
According to Johns, virtual guard monitoring offers several advantages. “These include expertise from highly trained security professionals, cost-effectiveness, 24/7 coverage, and scalability. The support of virtual guard services can ensure rapid response and boost employee morale without negatively affecting the customer experience or cutting into operating margins,” he said. “Virtual security guard services can cut down on guard costs by as much as 90 percent while offering superior security and outcomes.”
Besides virtual guards, other technologies such as AI and voice talk-down solutions can also play a key role in offline retail security. We’ll take a closer look in an upcoming article.

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