Adding IP Video to Manage Shrink
UK retailer reduces loss at cash registers and boosts customer service
- By Courtney Pedersen
- Feb 01, 2013
Creaseys Guernsey (one of several franchised Marks & Spencer
outlets) is now a 20,000-square-foot site at St. Peter Port in Jersey,
U.K. They invested several million pounds to nearly double their
prime retail site by expanding into the building next door. The
expansion also meant they would need to upgrade their video
surveillance system from analog to IP technology.
Shrinkage, already significant in the original store, was clearly going to get
worse with the enlarged space not covered by the existing CCTV cameras. The
major loss was cash register theft and shoplifting incidents of high-value goods
such as meat, wines, spirits and womenswear.
The new monitoring system had to give comprehensive coverage as the frontline
for loss prevention because the size of the store precluded the funding of
manned guarding. The solution needed to be reliable, require little maintenance
and be easy to use by non-security staff.
Easy to Deploy and Manage
With this brief in mind, retail officials called in security contractor KMH Group
to design and install an IP surveillance system with a focus on covering cash registers.
Milestone XProtect Enterprise IP video management software (VMS) was
chosen for viewing, recording and analyzing HD-quality images streamed at up to
18 frames per second from 74 new Axis network cameras. KMH Group installed
the cameras and connected them using Cat-5 Ethernet cabling to two dedicated
servers, housed in secure server rooms, running the VMS.
Milestone provides Creaseys Guernsey management team and supervisors with
an effective tool for protecting the outlet from cash handling and high-value item
theft. Creaseys’ IT department now recommends the deployment of the software
for many of its stores.
The solution was easy to set up and manage with system configuration wizards
and hardware auto-detection to simplify deployment. Delivered with Smart Client,
the software’s consolidated single-management interface provides an efficient
way to view and control an unlimited number of cameras.
KMH Group configured the software to suit the users’ needs. It is controlled
through the interface on a dedicated PC linked to two displays located in different
security rooms. Authorized staff—supervisor level and above—can quickly find
and view the cameras they want to see in live or recorded mode and export video
evidence to DVD or a local hard drive.
The software is so easy to use that the system was able to go live following just
30 minutes of user training attended by Andy le Maitre, group financial controller
and leader of this project in Creaseys Guernsey. He was able to talk staff through
the functionality of the system without further involvement from KMH Group.
Improving the Customer Experience
“The fact that the Milestone system is so easy to use has meant that we’ve been
able to extend its use beyond traditional security and loss prevention to improve
the customer experience in-store,” le Maitre said. “The familiar interface also
means recorded images post-event can be quickly found.”
Supervisors with access to the system use it to keep an eye on customer service
quality levels without looming over their employees. They find the video surveillance
useful to check how customers are being treated in accordance with Creaseys
training. Video images can be used in exercises to show customer service in action
or talk through better ways of handling specific customer experiences.
Previously, sales supervisors were attentive to customers while they were in the
vicinity, but once their backs were turned, standards tended to slip. With the new
surveillance system, it became possible to check the customer service behavior at
all times. This helps supervisors reinforce correct protocols, thereby improving the
Monitoring Cash and Shoplifting
A key requirement for the new system was providing sufficiently high-quality images
of hand movements around the cash registers to reduce shrinkage that occurs
through employee or customer theft at the registers—the principal source of loss
in the store at the time.
“We have a specific problem in Guernsey associated with the color of State
of Guernsey bank notes,” le Maitre said. “Guernsey notes look similar to those
from the United Kingdom, if viewed from some distance. It is important that we have high-quality video images so we can judge which
types of notes are going into the till, in case the registers
indicate a discrepancy between cash collected and
goods purchased at the end of the day.
“Our main source of shrinkage is not product
shoplifting, but disappearance of money from the
cash tills. The major concern is cash not even reaching
the registers when handed over by the customer.”
There are no security guards walking the shop
floor, which puts greater responsibility on surveillance
to capture wrong-doing and reduce shrinkage.
Security, to a certain extent, is the responsibility of
staff. For example, assistants walk the clothing floors
regularly and look for hangers without clothes, which
may mean that the missing item was stolen.
“We encourage assistants to wave at the nearest
surveillance camera to indicate that a missing item
has been discovered so we can more easily pinpoint
the time of discovery of a potential theft on the video
surveillance system and work back quickly from that
time in the system to the point where the item was
taken off the hanger,” le Maitre said.
Remote surveillance and
Creaseys is considering centralizing its video surveillance
systems to support more stores that have
no full-time manned guarding. There is a potential
benefit from viewing and managing these stores from
headquarters if necessary. Moving to IP surveillance
makes remote monitoring both cost effective and reliable,
using the existing WAN infrastructure to stream
live and recorded images to central
security and loss prevention teams in
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Security Today.