Enhancing the Customer Experience
Primary security mission is keeping stores safe and shrink low
Consumers’ expectations about their shopping experience at brickand-
mortar, retail stores are changing. Mobile devices allow consumers
to find any information they need with just a few clicks of a
button, and this sense of immediacy has spread to how they shop.
In response, retailers are scrambling to meet these new demands,
and innovations in technology have allowed them to start leveraging newer
tactics to elevate retail performance and better meet customer needs. In many instances,
it may surprise some to hear that these new “best practices” come from a
non-traditional source—the loss prevention (LP) team.
Evolving Security Technologies
Keeping stores safe and shrink low has been and always will be a primary focus
of security and LP teams, but retail security solutions have evolved to help make
retailers smarter about how their store is operating. Security providers, technology
manufacturers and integrators understand retail security solutions are now more
comprehensive, and, when leveraged correctly, can help do much more. Store operations
teams are turning to LP leads to determine how to use security solutions
to understand traffic patterns and achieve better business goals.
For retailers, this means they can gain higher value and return on investment
(ROI) on traditional security spends, which can mean a growing top line and a
healthier bottom line.
Below are some of the main developments in the industry that have prompted
these changes, and have encouraged growth and better efficiency in areas where
there previously may not have been:
Smart devices. Adding to the “anytime, anywhere” access customers have now
come to expect, this increase in immediacy for transactions and in-store experiences
has forced retailers to become smarter about how they help customers shop in-store.
That’s where an integrated security solution can come into play and add value.
Video. Once thought of as only a security solution, it has now become a multiuse
tool that can equip retailers with information to make decisions based on video
analytics and shopper intelligence tools. This development has pushed the security
industry into more of a partner role with merchandising and marketing, where all
teams can use video to track shopper behaviors, dwell times and store shopping
patterns, and then make alterations accordingly.
Mobility. Coupled with omni-channel retailing, the direction the retail industry is
headed is pretty clear. One of the biggest impacts these trends have had on the retail
industry is that customers are not always making decisions in the retail store itself.
The lines are blurring between brick-and-mortar, online and mobile shopping.
For example, consumers are doing research on products they want to buy as they
shop online and then may choose to go to a store to try out, try on or pick up
in-store. If a specific product isn’t available when they arrive, they may become
frustrated and choose not to purchase that item at all.
In order to keep customers happy, retailers can install effective inventory accuracy
solutions, such as RFID, that can help provide item-level visibility of all items
in a retail store’s inventory, from stock room to sales floor. Additionally, source tagging
can help retailers keep track of merchandise from the beginning, since products
are tagged right at the point of manufacture or packaging. By implementing source
tagging and RFID along with other loss prevention methods, retailers are better equipped to solve both shrink and store
Mobile POS. Patterns have been
altered, making it easier for customers
to purchase products from anywhere
in the store, and has created a security
risk for retailers that wasn’t there before.
Retailers want to make sure their
products are tagged, but also need to
provide their customers with the quickand-
easy service they want.
A specific device that some retailers
have started implementing is a mobile,
handheld electronic article surveillance
(EAS) deactivator that enables
employees to easily deactivate Acousto-
Magnetic (AM) EAS labels during
the barcode scanning process. With
buying patterns now more flexible, a
store’s staff and technology solutions
must follow suit. Having a way to deactivate
anti-theft tags can enhance the
mobile point-of-sale experience for the
customers, and allow retailers to have
security tags on important products.
The mobile trend hasn’t only been
driven by consumers. Mobile devices
have allowed the security teams at retail
stores to maximize efficiencies by
monitoring stores at any time, from any
location. This changes the game for everybody
Data as Actionable
All of these solutions provide retailers
with data that is rich in information
about their customers. While the collection
of data is great, it comes down to
how retailers can turn this wealth of data
into actionable business intelligence.
To do so, some retail security teams
have implemented cloud-hosted video
or hosted access. These robust systems
allow retailers to capture, save
and export video segments that can offer
key insight into specific issues like
what time of day most incidents occur,
whether employees are complying with
corporate policies or if certain times of
the day require more staff support. In
the end, having more data is one thing,
but turning that big data into insight
that can help improve customer experiences
and business operations relies on
being highly efficient on how to store,
access, disseminate and analyze it. The
cloud makes that all possible.
Managing data and becoming more
in tune with customer experiences and
how to improve those experiences is a
role shared by everybody involved in a
retail store—from the loss prevention
team to sales associates. Figuring out
how to best use these newer technologies
and understanding how data can
turn into business intelligence is the key
to success for any retailer.
It is safe to say that customers, retailers
and technology are all getting
smarter, moving faster and working
more cohesively as the retail ecosystem
continues to evolve; therefore, working
with a security systems integrator can
help determine which solutions make
the most sense for a certain store or
across an enterprise.
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Security Today.
Ted Guzek is the vice president of national accounts at Tyco Integrated Security.