The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

The heavy cost of inventory that retailers make

Last year brought tremendous challenges for everyone, especially retailers. Retail shrinkage, the reduction of inventory from shoplifting, fraud and internal theft, is estimated to have cost the industry $61.7 billion according to a 2020 National Retail Security Survey, an all-time high. Dwindling sales at brick-andmortar facilities continue to be a threat as new health concerns from COVID-19 challenge the industry even more. Staff members are being tested at all levels.

HYBRID, CLOUD-BASED SECURITY SOLUTIONS MAXIMIZE BUDGETS

With staff and budgets being stressed to their limits, security solutions need to be easy to use and cost effective. The right solution should complement what is already installed, while further reducing personnel needs for extensive training.

The system also needs to allow for easy upgrades and access for multiple employees without exorbitant additional licensing fees. Many retailers – small and large – are finding success with hybrid, “open” architecture solutions that don’t require buying an entirely new, costly system.

For the Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., the parent company for luxury retailers Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Last Call and Horchow with 38 stores nationwide, a more cost-effective, user friendly and scalable security solution was needed with stellar customer support and customization options. Neiman Marcus had implemented another access control technology in their stores and Dallas headquarters that was becoming increasingly difficult and costly to support. Executives at Neiman Marcus realized they needed a better long-term plan.

Since Neiman Marcus already made a significant investment in Mercury controllers they wanted to continue using these boards so any new solution would need to be compatible. Additionally, they selected another access control board to work with their new readers and decided that a hybrid approach would work best to protect their existing investment. IMRON, a platinum partner of Mercury, was brought in as the software partner to manage the hybrid access control hardware vendors with its open architecture standards and agnostic solutions.

The award-winning UnityIS by IMRON was the perfect hybrid access control solution because it doesn’t require complicated software installations or costly licenses. It’s remarkably easy to use, and the cloud-based software can be accessed from any web browser on smartphones, tablets or computers virtually anywhere. This further reduces the need for dedicated staff as they can now remotely manage the system. Flexible and scalable, UnityIS is a powerful access management system for a wide range of industries including retail.

With the cloud, multiple users can manage the system simultaneously, which was not possible with the previous solution. This simple change streamlined their internal processes, reduced dedicated staffing, and increased functionality by allowing more associates to manage day-to-day operations. With quick installation, no firewall programming and 99.9% uptime, users can now manage access from anywhere, instantly adding a new user, updating existing records, and assigning access control attributes.

Events can be viewed in real-time, and doors can be monitored and controlled from anywhere with user friendly graphic maps. Keeping the team informed is a snap with the easy-to-use reporting system. Featuring bank-level encryption, the database is automatically backed up daily with immediate access for the last 90 days.

Historical data can also be accessed as needed. IMRON performs all maintenance on the software and database, making it especially user-friendly. With a simple subscription model and no upfront license fees, UnityIS is affordable and scalable for a wide range of business users.

The solution offers a number of features that have been especially useful for retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Occupancy controls. This limits the number of people allowed into specific pre-assigned areas.
• Hands-free mode.
Enables passing in front of reader without presenting smartphone for access and egress.
• Guest pass. Email or text guests with temporary access pass.
• Remote mode. Remote control of access points from any internet authorized connected device.
• First-man in.
Automatically unlocks doors when first person arrives.
Last-man out.
Auto locks doors when last person leaves.
• Lockdowns.
Automatically lock/unlock groups of pre-selected doors.

The product itself is only part of the equation. IMRON’s technical support ensured the Neiman Marcus’ solution was up and running quickly with virtually no down time. With this hybrid approach, they’ve been able to add multiple sites to the enterprise system easily and they’re poised to implement new technology quickly as it becomes available.

This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Security Today.

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