Internal and external theft are on the rise, and grocery stores are one of the most popular targets for retail theft. Many supermarkets are investing in security to keep up with the rising threat. Here’s everything you need to know about security cameras in grocery stores.
Supermarkets face a variety of security threats. Internal and external theft are the ones that come to mind. However, the operational risks can often cost grocery stores more money in the long run than theft.
The right grocery store security cameras can mitigate all of these risks, improving your bottom line while keeping your employees and customers safe.
Internal theft is when employees or other people inside of an organization steal from the business. Grocery stores experience several types of internal theft.
POS employee theft
The point of sale (POS) is one of the key locations for employee theft. While employee discounts are not as common for supermarkets as other retail locations, there are still ways for employees to steal from you at the POS.
Employees can skip swipe products, use cheaper codes for weighed items, and more to provide cheaper groceries for friends and family. For grocery stores that do offer employee discounts, discount abuse can occur.
If you use typeable codes for reduced-to-sell discounts on perishable goods, then employees could use those codes to discount fresh goods as well.
Internal inventory theft can mean several things. First, relaxed receiving procedures could lead to deliveries being short. Second, employees may shoplift from the sales floor or steal boxes of inventory from the backroom.
One of the hardest forms of inventory theft to find, however, is items purposely mispriced. For example, someone in the meat department could re-label tenderloin as ground beef.
Employees grazing is a special form of shoplifting where employees steal items to consume during their shift. For example, an employee might open a bag of chips to leave in the backroom to munch on while working.
As another example, sometimes the deli counter or a cashier may help employees make and price their own sandwiches. In this case, $12 of pastrami and some cheese might get rung up as just the $1 kaiser bun.
External theft is when people outside an organization steal from a business. Shoplifting is the first form of external theft that comes to mind, but there are several others.
Shoplifting is particularly pervasive in supermarkets. Many people who could never justify stealing clothes can personally come to terms with taking food from a grocery story. The high volume of sales also makes it harder to find the telltale signs of missing merchandise.
Grocery store shoplifting can range from someone taking a bag of cookies to expensive meat thefts. Some shoplifters will even line a cart with toilet paper rolls to then fill the hidden center with expensive meat or other items. A single shoplifting event like this can cost a supermarket thousands in merchandise.
Identifying a shoplifter isn’t easy, and building the evidence to support a shoplifting case can be even harder. Solink can make it easier to spot shoplifters, track them as they leave the store, and then share evidence with law enforcement by email.
To see how Solink can help protect your grocery store, sign up for a demo today.
After hours break and enters
Grocery stores carry millions in inventory and generate a lot of weekly revenue. While much of that revenue is in the form of digital transactions, there’s the perception that a supermarket robbery would be lucrative.
This can lead to them being popular targets for late night break-ins.
Theft at the self-checkouts
Self-checkouts are spreading across the retail industry, especially grocery stores. Although self-checkouts can reduce labor costs and overhead, they also represent a major external theft risk. From the banana trick to the switcheroo, theft at self-checkouts is so pervasive that there’s an entire vocabulary developing around it.
Individual theft events can cost companies thousands of dollars. However, a single injury claim can dwarf that total. Added to injury liability, cleanliness and training are other common operational risks in grocery stores that can be mitigated with security cameras.
Cleanliness is key to the grocery store business model. Making sure the meat and fish departments are thoroughly cleaned according to the mandatory schedule can help prevent the spread of bacteria. This is true for hot food counters, bakeries, and anywhere else in your supermarket food is prepared.
Even on the sales floor, dirty floors can hurt revenue. Customers don’t want to shop for food especially in a less than pristine environment.
Spinx uses Solink to track cleanliness across dozens of locations and to pinpoint locations that require more attention.
To see how Solink can help you keep your stores clean and inviting, sign up for a demo today.
Customer injury liability
Unlike most retail locations, the sales volume of a supermarket necessitates replenishing shelves during operating hours. This can open up a grocery store to customer injury liabilities. For example, an employee is moving an empty pallet when someone asks to be directed to an item on the shelf. The unattended pallet is now a tripping hazard.
Slip-and-falls due to wet floors are another injury risk. It’s important to make sure that employees always put out wet floor signs during inclement weather or after cleaning up broken merchandise.
Veterans of America-Michigan does just that. The head office checks that every store has wet floor signs out whenever the weather report calls for rain. They then conduct follow-up calls to stores that aren’t compliant.
To see how Solink can reduce injury risks in your store, sign up for a demo today.
Employee injury risks
Employee injuries are also common in grocery stores. Meat grinders, bone saws, deli slicers, and box cutters are some of the dangerous equipment that supermarket employees need to use everyday.
Often injuries are due to employees not appreciating just how much riskier a shortcut can be. For example, an employee who has used a pallet raised by a forklift or hand-jack as a step-stool hundreds of times might not realize how lucky they were to avoid injury previously.
Your goal here first and foremost is to keep your employees safe. However, it can also affect your bottom line. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations can be expensive, so using grocery store security cameras to audit your business for regulatory compliance makes sense financially as well.
To see how Solink helps you find and eliminate OSHA violations, sign up for a demo today.
Training issues can lead to many different problems. For example, employees can be facilitating discount abuse unintentionally because they have not been properly trained on how to handle high-risk transactions (discounts, voids, returns, etc.).
In addition, many employee and customer injuries can be traced back to initial non-compliance with procedures. Employees get busy with a different project or try to cut corners to catch up during a busy shift. This can lead to injuries.
Human pricing errors
Human pricing errors come in two forms. First, employees physically price or discount items improperly. Second, data errors are made when inputting the price in the POS system. In both cases, the result is customers paying the wrong price for their purchase.
What types of security cameras do you need for a grocery store?
There are several types of security cameras appropriate for a grocery store. The right mix of grocery store security cameras will usually include the following:
- Fisheye (360) security cameras
- Turret cameras
- Dome cameras
Fisheye (360) security cameras
360 security cameras, sometimes called fisheye cameras, give users a complete 360° by 180° view of an area.
This makes them ideal for covering large open areas, such as the produce section or open bakery departments.
360 degree cameras get their nickname of fisheye cameras due to the distorted image shown. This made it hard to understand exactly what was happening within the video. However, using modern gaming technology, Solink stretches out this view to give you an immersive look at what is happening at your site.
Here’s a 360 security camera at work within the Solink app:
Turret security cameras have a ball-and-socket design. Within the “turret”, the ball-like camera can be positioned to look at different angles. This makes their installation and re-positioning flexible. These are the basic cameras that come to mind when someone says “security camera.”
They are ideal for monitoring doorways, loading docks, and to point up and down every aisle of your grocery store.
Dome cameras are cameras covered with a dome. This provides two advantages. First, the cover protects the camera from vandalism. Second, the camera inside the dome could be pointing in any direction, which provides greater security value.
The added protection from vandalism makes dome cameras useful for outdoor surveillance and anywhere inside a supermarket within reach of someone who might want to damage grocery store security cameras to hide theft.
Where should you place security cameras in a grocery store?
Grocery stores need a lot of security cameras to adequately cover their large footprint. In addition, the high shelves lining every aisle make it hard to cover some areas with fisheye security cameras, pushing the total number required even higher.
Here are all the places you should position grocery store security cameras.
Inside and outside entrances and exits
Cameras inside and outside of all entrances and exits provide clear images of faces in case theft occurs. They also provide deterrence value as they can be clearly seen by every person entering your grocery store.
Security camera coverage of doors also allows you to utilize them as a security system. Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service outperforms traditional panel alarms head to head.
To see how Solink’s video alarms can protect your grocery store, day or night, sign up for a demo today.
At the POS
Whether employees are intentionally stealing or there are further training needs, being able to pair video with the transactions at the POS is mandatory to identify these issues.
Self-checkouts have become one of the biggest challenges for loss prevention specialists in supermarkets. Positioning security cameras over every self-checkout in your grocery store can give you recourse when your clerk suspects a person is stealing. You can go back and review the video of the transaction to make sure that every item was rung through correctly.
Coverage over open areas
The produce department, and sometimes the bakery department as well, is a wide open area with lower bunker food displays. These areas can often be covered by a single 360 security camera instead of multiple turret cameras.
Views up and down every aisle
Some grocery stores choose to have security cameras facing down each aisle in both directions, while others only in alternating directions. Still others choose to only place cameras facing down the aisles that display merchandise that is likely to be stolen.
However, if your supermarket chooses to only have cameras covering high-risk merchandise, you might leave yourself open to other problems. For example, an aisle considered to be at low risk for theft might still have breakable merchandise that could lead to injuries.
Inside meat, fish, etc. staging and packing areas
These departments need to be clean to protect the public from food poisoning. They also tend to have dangerous equipment such as knives and saws. It’s imperative that all health and safety regulations are followed in these areas. Security cameras make this more likely and gives management the ability to audit for regulatory compliance.
Inside walk-in freezers and fridges
Meat and cheese especially are expensive inventory items stored in coolers. That makes freezers and fridges high-risk areas for employee theft. They can be seen as more private, so an employee might think it is less likely that a manager will walk by while they are trying to steal something.
When choosing cameras for these areas, remember that, just like outdoors, the cameras need to be hardy to the temperature conditions inside a walk-in.
In the storage room
Storage areas need coverage to prevent inventory theft. They are also areas where careless practices can lead to serious injuries. Poorly stacked merchandise could fall on an employee, or employees can get injured when climbing over merchandise.
In addition, tomfoolery involving forklifts can lead to life-threatening injuries.
Covering the loading dock and receiving area
Internal theft is often equated with employee theft. However, employees are not the only people with the inside knowledge and access to steal from a company. Vendors and truck drivers have access to merchandise as it is moved from warehouses and suppliers to your grocery store.
If employees aren’t paying attention or following receiving procedures, there’s an opportunity for drivers to steal thousands of dollars worth of inventory from a loading area.
Solink is the best grocery store security camera system
Solink connects your security cameras to other sources of data, including your POS. This creates an improved security net for your supermarket.
Finally, grocery store security cameras give you the information you need to find and prevent theft, injuries, unsafe work environments, cleanliness issues, and training shortfalls.
To see how Solink protects supermarkets, sign up for a demo today.
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.