Brick and mortar retail businesses are facing a lot of pressure today. Profitability is less assured than ever. Organized retail crime (ORC) is changing the risk profile of retail businesses as well. Retail leaders are looking for any advantage they can find. Retail live video surveillance helps managers do more with less.
Live video surveillance is a way to monitor your retail business remotely in real time. Remote monitoring uses a combination of security cameras and advanced video analytics to keep an eye on your business. There are many benefits to using this technology, including enhanced security, lower costs, improved efficiency, and a better understanding of your core metrics.
Indeed, while the improved security alone justifies the price of live video surveillance for your retail business, the benefits go well beyond just better security.
15 live video surveillance benefits for retail stores
As mentioned above, being able to monitor your business in real time has both security and non-security benefits. Here are 15 benefits of live video surveillance:
- Identify retraining needs
- More effective onboarding
- Respond to issues in real time
- Remote monitoring
- Better asset protection/loss prevention
- Add context to business metrics
- Remote guarding
- Reduced labor expenses and hiring needs
- Better security
- Alarm verification
- Better customer service
- Health and safety improvements
- Cleaner stores
- Safer parking lots
- Improved relationship with law enforcement
Note that these benefits often open up great synergies. For example, using live video surveillance to improve customer service can both increase sales and decrease external theft.
Identify retraining needs
Employees often find themselves in need of retraining. This can be due to individual needs or mistakes made during initial training. Whether malicious or because of training shortcomings, the results are the same for the business: reduced profitability from lost productivity.
Three common retraining needs often appear:
- Time theft: Time theft is when employees are being paid to work but are doing something else instead. This can be simple productivity issues such as employees using their mobile phones during work hours. However, it can also be more serious, for example employees secretly closing stores a couple hours early.
- Discount abuse: Discount abuse is when employees use discounts incorrectly. This can sometimes be malicious, for example someone using their employee discount to reduce the prices for friends and family. Often, though, it is an employee improperly stacking discounts, for example those meant for seniors and veterans, due to a training deficit. In either case, it costs the company money.
- A lack of customer engagement: We discuss this more below, but every visitor to a store needs to be greeted and then engaged with regularly thereafter. This boosts sales and reduces shoplifting.
Volunteers of America-Michigan has identified several retraining issues using the Solink platform. Live video surveillance has helped them find instances of employees not doing what they are supposed to without ever needing to step foot in the affected stores.
More effective onboarding
A major difficulty in onboarding new associates for your stores is a lack of real-world examples of what to do, as well as what not to do. Retail live video surveillance gives you the ability to find and save clips of employee interactions with customers, and all of the other tasks your staff is expected to perform on a daily basis.
This is especially valuable for loss prevention onboarding and training. You can save clips of employee theft events, mistakes during inventory management, improper use of discounts, and failure to get needed approvals for cash refunds.
Simply showing new associates these clips gives them an understanding of how they should act as an employee in your store. It also subtly reminds them that theft will be uncovered and there will be consequences.
Respond to issues in real time
Issues tend to compound until they are solved. This means a small problem in the morning can spiral out of control leading to your business not meeting its goal. Cloud video surveillance gives businesses access to their security camera feeds from anywhere, 24 hours a day. One of the biggest benefits of live video surveillance is that you can identify and solve minor issues before they multiply.
Threshold Notifications allows businesses to set limits on the metrics important to them: speed of service, hourly revenue, average transaction discount, or anything else you can track. Then you can get a proactive notification any time your core metrics are outside of your comfort zone.
Here’s an example. Your store averages $1,000/hour in sales. You set up a Threshold Notification for hourly sales <$500. When alerted to the drop in sales, you review the video footage of the previous hour. You can instantly see, for example, that employees have spent much of the last hour chatting by the POS instead of engaging with visitors.
Remote video monitoring gives you the ability to audit your stores for company policy compliance without visiting in person. While on-premises audits are not going away—and they shouldn’t—for locations in remote areas or those with known issues that need to be checked up on more regularly, live video surveillance can make it possible to give them the care they need while saving time.
Point of sale (POS) monitoring is especially important for retail locations. Voids, no-sale till opens, cash returns, and high discount ratios are all high-risk transactions. Solink gives you the ability to search, sort, and video review every POS transaction to make sure company policies are being followed.
Better asset protection/loss prevention
When discussing asset protection/loss prevention (AP/LP), it’s important to separate the internal and external threats. Both are major issues, but they often use different tactics and therefore require different strategies to prevent.
Internal theft is when people inside an organization steal from it. One common example of internal theft found in retail stores is discount abuse.
Conversely, external theft is when those outside the organization do. The most common type of external theft in retail is shoplifting.
Here’s a helpful chart:
Solink has several features that makes it easier to identify and investigate external theft. Motion search allows you to scan hours of footage in minutes. Skilled AP/LP professionals can make this process even faster by scanning motion events at 8 or 16 times speed.
Then, when a shoplifting incident is found, Camera Linking makes it possible to track a suspect as they move around the store. Finally, you can share evidence directly in the Solink platform with internal stakeholders and law enforcement by email.
For internal theft, motion search is still a valuable tool, but there are others that can prove even more beneficial. Solink connects to many other systems to pair data with matching video footage, including the point of sale (POS).
POS monitoring gives you the ability to quickly filter all of your transactions by type, size, date, employee number, products, or any other keywords. You can quickly find all of your high-risk transactions (voids, no-sale till opens, cash returns, etc.) and then review the paired video to confirm they are legitimate.
In fact, Goodwill uses Solink to reduce loss and improve security. Larry Cruse, Director of Asset Protection and Safety, estimates that Solink is saving Goodwill in Arizona between $200,000 and $300,000 through reduced loss, better security, and higher productivity.
Add context to business metrics
As mentioned above, POS monitoring can be used to mitigate the risk of employee theft. That’s just one of the ways it can provide context to your metrics. Let’s look at a simple example.
You run a standalone retail store. On average, you do $1,000 of sales on a weekday between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. Solink sends you an alert that you made zero sales during this important period.
- Is there a weather event keeping people away?
- Have the employees closed the store early without permission?
- Are visitors not being greeted by sales staff?
The only way to know exactly what is going on—and therefore what you need to do to rectify the situation—is to watch the real-time security footage. Live video surveillance gives you the needed context to not just know about a problem but to solve it.
Remote guarding is the use of live video surveillance equipment to replace on-site security guards or enhance their ability to patrol large retail spaces. In either case, using your security system to replace live guards can save a lot of money.
In addition, surveillance cameras never sleep, cannot be intimidated, provide objective evidence when an incident occurs, and can monitor your entire store at once. All of these added benefits are why retail businesses use remote guarding to protect their stores.
Reduced labor expenses and hiring needs
Live video surveillance can reduce labor expenses in several ways. Most directly, the remote guarding function can replace live 24/7 on-site security guards. However, even when a full-time salary isn’t being removed from the books, video surveillance systems can be used to improve productivity.
As mentioned above, AP/LP audits can be shifted to virtual walkthroughs so a single loss prevention professional can review multiple locations at once. This can slow down the rate at which you need to hire people into your asset protection department.
Solink is a complete video management system (VMS). With all of the included tools, you can now search for theft or other security incidents, save the videos, organize all the evidence gathered for an event, and share it internally and with law enforcement in one platform.
Internal theft and external theft have been the major concerns of retail security over the last decades. However, disruptive behavior is increasingly the top priority of those working in retail security.
How to deescalate situations before verbal disrespect leads to violence needs to be part of your retail security onboarding. Providing video examples of successful and unsuccessful deescalation attempts across your retail chain can help keep your people, patrons, and property safe.
Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service is another way to better protect your business. Unlike traditional panel alarms, video alarms can monitor entire areas of your business for improved detection. You can also turn them on and off one zone at a time, meaning your store can be open for business while the loading dock is secured.
In a recent independent comparison of Solink Video Alarms and traditional panel alarms, video alarms led to multiple arrests while traditional alarms led to zero apprehensions.
Alarm verification gives trained professionals the ability to review in real time what is happening on a site before deciding whether an emergency response is warranted. Then, when law enforcement is required, the video feed is shared with the dispatcher to ensure prompt and appropriate response.
However, the value of alarm verification goes beyond better security. Verified alarms also save you money. Many police forces no longer respond to unverified alarms, and where they do false alarm fines are increasing.
In the same head-to-head comparison mentioned above, Solink Video Alarms led to a 100% decrease in false alarm fines across multiple restaurant locations. This amounts to thousands of dollars in savings per year per location, often paying for the entire live video surveillance system contract alone.
Better customer service
Employees should be engaging with every visitor as they enter your business and regularly thereafter. This is an effective sales tactic that will help increase your revenue. It’ll also reduce external theft because patrons of your business will feel like they are being watched.
Retail live video surveillance can help monitor how your staff is interacting with guests so you can make sure they are following directives on customer service standards.
Health and safety improvements
Real-time monitoring can do a lot more than just prevent internal theft. In fact, theft is not the biggest threat to the profitability of many retail stores. Employee and/or customer injuries could lead to major liability risk. Retail live video surveillance can also help make sure business is doing everything possible to keep your stores safe.
Volunteers of America-Michigan uses Solink to prevent slip-and-fall injuries across all of their locations. When the weather report calls for snow or rain, they quickly check the front entrance areas of all of their locations to make sure wet floor signs are being used. Live video surveillance gives them the ability to protect all of their retail locations from this safety concern in a couple minutes.
Clean stores are inviting stores. They are places that people want to shop. This is especially true if you operate grocery stores or anywhere else that sells food.
However, the benefits don’t stop there. Clean stores with tidy shelves make it easier to spot shoplifting events. You can quickly see that something is missing, and if it hasn’t been sold you have a good indication that theft may have occurred. After that, a quick motion search on the Solink mobile app can spot the shoplifting event.
Monitoring your retail locations in real time using your video surveillance system can ensure every store is complying with company policies including those related to cleanliness.
Spinx uses Solink to monitor all of their locations for cleanliness and company compliance. A single person is able to monitor about 100 locations.
Safer parking lots
There are a lot of liability issues associated with parking lots:
- Safety issues due to wet or snowy conditions
- Smash-and-grab thefts
- Fender benders
- Hit and runs
- Stolen cars
Without real-time monitoring, issues go unresolved. When a crime does occur, it’s important to be able to properly follow up so it doesn’t happen again. The Solink platform allows you to document every event to make sure it is resolved correctly and quickly.
In fact, this ability to document issues leads to our next benefit for retail businesses.
Improved relationship with law enforcement
Retailers try to build strong relationships with local law enforcement. They want responses to their stores to be prompt and appropriate. One of the easiest ways to build a strong relationship with the police is to provide them with the evidence they need to help you.
When an incident occurs, Solink’s live video surveillance platform makes it easy to find, save, and share video footage of the event. Use motion search to find the incident, save the clips including multiple angles where necessary, and then send them to the police via email.
When police trust you to provide evidence, they are more inclined to fully investigate every incident. In fact, they might start coming to you looking for video feeds that have street views to help with investigations.
The largest Cookies retailer uses Solink to build their relationship with law enforcement. Here’s what their Director of Loss Prevention, Ryan Dzwigalski, has to say:
“I’ve been in loss prevention for 20 years. I wish I had something like Solink before because being able to share video with the police so easily is huge. It was always such a hassle before. You’d have to find a USB stick, get their address, put it in a bubbled envelope, and drop it off at the police dropbox. Then, the police might not be able to open the file. If you get a reputation of not providing the needed evidence, police can become less responsive to non-emergency calls like theft. Now, Solink has helped me create a good relationship with law enforcement. It is such a huge benefit.”
Solink is the best retail live video surveillance system
Solink provides a customizable cloud-first video analytics platform. Productivity and training, health and safety, cleanliness, security, and customer service can all be monitored with retail live video surveillance.
This can improve profitability through both increased revenue and decreased expenses.
To see how Solink can help you monitor all of your stores, 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.