Success Story

How a California grocer took control of their front-end operations with Solink

July 14, 2023

Table of Contents

“Solink is like an extra full-time employee in the front end of our grocery store keeping things running smoothly. It really protects us from fraud and theft. That’s a lot of help for what is not a huge expense."

Concerns

  • Finding, saving, and sharing evidence of instances from shoplifting to robbery could take all day.
  • Discount abuse was causing a lot of loss margins. 
  • Training shortcomings were leading to security and operational risks.

Results

  • Solink makes it easy to find events with motion- and event-based search and then share videos by email with law enforcement.
  • Every transaction can be reviewed in the Solink platform to prevent discount abuse.
  • The Solink Dashboard tells you exactly who is doing what, so you can correct issues in real time.

Table of Contents

The Client:
Frazier Farms

Frazier Farms owns three specialty natural food grocery stores in California. Matt Frazier, one of the owners, sat down to discuss the operational difficulties they’ve had around their point of sale (POS) systems and how Solink is helping them.

Store front of frazier farms

"We have three locations. Two currently have Solink running and the third should be up and running in the next month. The smaller store is around 25,000 square feet and the other two are about 30,000 square feet."

The Challenge:
Improve front-end operations

Frazier Farms operates three stores, and all three stores had separate basic surveillance systems. This made it difficult to pull video when necessary, share it with stakeholders, or monitor their business remotely.

"The stores are all different and were built several years apart from each other. The technology in our security systems was really different from store to store. This made it difficult to monitor what was happening or pull footage of incidents. For instance, if we had a shoplifting incident or a robbery, getting video from a store could take all day. Then, getting that video to the police meant putting it on a thumb drive and delivering it in person.”

Frazier Farms is currently rethinking their generous employee discounts because they are facing issues with discount abuse. With their previous system, it wasn’t possible to review who was using the discount, leading to people using their discounts incorrectly. 

“We offer a 10 percent discount for new employees and management can go up to 20 percent. If you're on the regional team and have over 10 or 15 years, we offer a 30 percent discount, but it looks like we might need to pull back on the discount because it's being abused."

There were some issues with the front-end staff where untrained employees would use the wrong button on the POS and then management would correct the issue without reinforcing the correct procedure. This led to a lack of accountability for using potentially risky transaction types such as unexplained voids.

A woman at the check out counter of a grocery store. A grocery store attendant is helping the woman pay for her items.

“A lot of issues arise from untrained people. When you review their transactions, they're just hitting incorrect buttons. They don't even know what they're doing, so, for instance, when something that is supposed to be on sale shows the incorrect price at the counter, they make the correction at the register. They do this using a void, and then the managers do not not hold them accountable because they clear the void without asking ‘hey, why did you use a void when this is the right way to do it?’ This is a negligent operational practice that comes down to poor training."

Summary:

  • Finding incidents and then sharing them with law enforcement or other stakeholders was difficult, which hampered investigations.
  • Frazier Farms offers multiple different types of discounts including employee and veteran discounts that were being abused and incorrectly stacked.
  • A lack of follow-up training and accountability for cashiers has led to operational and theft risk at the front end.

Solink offers an integrated security solution that pairs security camera footage with other systems. Frazier Farms uses the ECRS POS system and was initially drawn to Solink because it offers an ECRS integration.

"One thing that made me interested in Solink from the beginning is that I knew you’ve integrated with ECRS in the past, so I felt it would be an easy setup."

Grocery stores have large footprints, which means a lot of security cameras. Onboarding a new video surveillance system often means ripping and replacing working security cameras due to closed operation systems. Solink can work with most commercial security camera models, which was another key factor why Frazier Farms chose Solink.

“Each store has 20 to 30 cameras. Solink was able to work with the existing security cameras at our Vista and La Mesa locations. It looks like with some updates the security cameras at Oceanside will also be compatible with Solink.”

The Solution:
A usable video surveillance system that provides accountability

Frazier Farms can now quickly find evidence of incidents including slip-and-falls, robberies, and shoplifting. Then, they can share these videos with all internal and external stakeholders right in the Solink platform by email.

"Our stores have 20 to 30 cameras, and before they were all run on different platforms. That system never highlighted or alerted you about anything unless you were looking for it. For instance, if you had a slip-and-fall, what time did it happen? You would have to go back and dig. You also weren't getting any sort of metrics or measurement. It was just a recorded camera. It didn't tell you anything. Our loss prevention person could be up in the office all day searching for the video. With Solink, I can use motion search to find the incident immediately. It’s so much easier and faster.”

Many incidents commonly experienced by retail businesses that have occurred over the last couple of months are being investigated with the help of Solink.

"Right now, I have two slip-and-fall cases, an investigation for an employee who is making a harassment claim, some coupon issues, several large meat voids that are concerning, and others. We definitely use Solink a lot for case management.”

Before Solink, it was hard to appreciate just how serious the discount abuse issue was at Frazier Farms. In fact, the issue spread beyond current employees and the employee discount.

A grocery store with fresh fruit and produce. In the background, a large sign displays the word "organic"

"Solink has been great. It's really given us good insight. We had an issue in the Oceanside location involving a previous front-end manager that we discovered in the Solink platform. The employee left to work for a catering company. She knew our processes and some of the employees and was coercing them into stacking multiple discounts incorrectly. She was getting 40 percent off large purchases. We went back and found that she had saved, or stolen, over 900 dollars in the previous two weeks. Who knows how much in total since she left!"

Part of the issue identified above is that training shortcomings weren’t being addressed, which led to employees making these mistakes over and over.

“The ex-employee was telling cashiers, ‘the button to do this is on your register. If they didn’t want you to do it, why would they let you?’ This was eye-opening, and we’ve actually removed some of these options. We can also now look at the Solink Dashboard to track who is doing what, and then address the issue right away.”

The accountability provided by real-time training corrections seems to be spreading through the staff, resulting in better adherence to company policies from everyone at the front end.

“The employees know that we know everything they're doing now. We pulled five or six employees up to the office to ask them why they were using the void key. I’ve seen a drop off in the use of voids across all employees since. Once they saw the level of detail we have on what they are doing, the change was immediate.”

The Result:
Smoother front-end operations and reduced shrink

Frazier Farms has seen a marked improvement in how their stores are operating over the last couple of months. Solink provides the ability to review issues in real time so that employees get the immediate feedback required. This starts on the Solink Dashboard with the custom widgets created by Cheyenne Carr, a Solink Customer Success Manager.

"The dashboard is great. It's kind of the home base of your business. Cheyenne, who has a background in grocery, set up our dashboard with the widgets she thought we’d need and that’s been really helpful. I can move through different parameters and see how the employees rank. When there are void issues, it’s often the same person and I can see that right away when I open Solink. I can then call them up to the office to go through some clips and understand why they were doing something and then teach them the proper way.”

It’s also making it possible for managers at the store and regional levels to coordinate their operations since Solink provides remote access to video and data.

“When I notice something, I don’t need to wait for the store manager to find some free time to review the video. Before I call the store manager, I can find evidence, save it, send it to them by email, and then have a more fruitful conversation because we both know what’s going on and what needs to be done about it. Before, this just wasn’t possible. It would take so long to find things, and then I would need to plug in a USB stick if I wanted to save it or show it to someone.”

These decisions aren’t made lightly. Frazier Farms is a data-driven company, so providing data has been a big help to their operations.

"Solink gives us confidence that we know what's going on. It's data driven. It's a set of eyes, seeing things when you can’t. Solink has really given us the data to dictate better policy upfront and then to make sure it is being followed.”

A dairy counter with cheeses in the front. In the background, a grocery store attendant is looking down

Solink has provided insight into the cash register buttons that employees might knowingly or unknowingly misuse. In some cases, retraining is enough. In others, it was deemed necessary to change the keyboard layouts and remove those functions.

"Solink has given us insight into how the systems in the front end are being used, how we operate, and what buttons are being pushed. We’ve corrected some issues and even shut down some buttons. Only the managers have access to some functions now as they were just being misused as shortcuts.”

One important point for Frazier Farms is the time savings provided by Solink. While the operational benefits are clear, it might not have been practical if there weren’t also time savings for management. 

"Motion search allows us to trim our investigation time. With a slip-and-fall, sometimes the reported time is off by an hour, but with motion search we can still find the incident, see it from multiple angles, and share it within minutes."

The productivity benefits go beyond simply saving time. Solink has helped uncover time theft such as long breaks.

"We sometimes have employee issues, where they are sitting in the break room for too long. I can use motion search to see when they went on break and when they went back to work. Even this issue is disappearing as employees know that we can monitor for long breaks."

A grocery store aisle. In the background, a large sign that displays "Health & Wellness" is above the aisle

The immediate benefits are time and money savings, but the long-term value in Solink can stretch well beyond this. For example, there’s the chance to make proactive changes to training and policies that will improve profitability over time. 

“Solink does save us time and money, but I think the benefits in the long term will go beyond that. Simply showing some employees the video of them misusing voids has dramatically reduced their use across the board. Realizing certain buttons are being used incorrectly led us to remove them from the POS, so they can’t be pressed anymore."

In Frazier Farms’ words

“The Solink platform was such an upgrade from what we were using that it sold itself.”

"The Solink platform, by linking to the POS, just gives you such a clear picture of what’s going on in your business. With Solink, you get the receipt and video together. Now we can see everything. Is the shopper a friend? A colleague? Did the employee do everything correctly? We can go deeper now and get the whole story."

“What do they say in basketball? Solink is our sixth man.”

“Whenever we hire a loss prevention officer, internal shoplifting goes way down for a couple of months. But they get very friendly really quickly with everyone else because they're here all the time and they turn into just another employee. After that, they become less effective in their role. They start hanging out with the other employees outside of work and then look the other way when the employee shoplifts. Solink gives us a better idea of what is happening in our stores, especially at the registers."

Frazier Farms’ three favorite features

The Dashboard

The dashboard shows you all of the data you need to see. The Customer Success Team sets it up with the specific graphs and feeds you find important. It is fully customizable to fit the needs of each customer.

Save & Share

Being able to save and share video footage directly from the Solink platform is helpful when incidents occur. Once video documentation of an event is found, it can be saved indefinitely and shared with all stakeholders, including law enforcement, attorneys, members of staff, and government officials.

Motion Search eliminates the need to fast forward through hours of video footage. Solink automatically shows you all video clips in an area of interest where there is movement.

Tim Ware headshot

Timothy Warelinked in icon email icon

Timothy Ware is Solink’s Content Manager. He brings over ten years of writing and editing experience to the job. When he isn’t writing about security, loss prevention, and asset protection, he’s enjoying his newest board game. His work has appeared on many B2B SaaS websites including Baremetrics, Security Today, TeamPassword, Cova, and SignTime.