How to Effectively use Security Cameras in Retail Stores

August 22, 2023

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Retail security needs are changing. Now more than ever, retail surveillance is focused on keeping employees and customers safe and not just better loss prevention. However, security cameras in stores can do more, including driving ROI by reducing costs and increasing revenue. 

Here’s how.

See why Solink provides the best cloud-based retail video surveillance.

What types of Security Cameras should you place in Retail Stores?

There are three main types of security cameras found in stores:


  1. Turret cameras
  2. Dome cameras
  3. Fisheye cameras

Turret security cameras typically employ a ball-and-socket design. The ball-like camera within the “turret” allows for flexible positioning to capture different angles. This design offers ease of installation and re-positioning. However, it also results in a potential disparity between the camera’s field of view and that of the turret, making it challenging to determine precisely what is being recorded.

Keep in mind that, after installation, physical repositioning of the camera is necessary to achieve a new field of view.

Solink's cloud based surveillance system integrates with turret cameras

Dome cameras are characterized by their dome-shaped coverings, offering two distinct advantages. 

  1. The dome cover provides protection against vandalism, ensuring the camera’s safety. 
  2. The camera positioned inside the dome can be angled in any desired direction, enhancing its overall security capabilities.

Nonetheless, similar to turret cameras, dome cameras suffer from a limitation in that they possess a fixed viewing angle, which cannot be adjusted remotely.

Solink integrates with dome camera's, so you can access your business remotely

Fisheye cameras, sometimes called 360 cameras, can be considered the next step in the evolution of retail security cameras. Fisheye cameras give the user a complete 360° by 180° view, making them ideal for monitoring large open areas, for example the produce section of a grocery store. This is also why they are also called 360 cameras.

Fisheye cameras get their name from the distorted image shown. This makes it hard to understand exactly what is happening within the video. However, using modern technology, Solink stretches out this view to give you an immersive look at what is happening at your site.

Protect your business y integrating your 360 cameras with Solink

Here’s a fisheye security camera at work within the Solink app:

View all angles of your restaurant with a 360 degree camera
Learn how Solink can support your business.

Where should you place security cameras in retail stores?

Effective retail surveillance requires complete camera coverage of your entire premises. That means you need to have security cameras covering every part of your store. In addition, to get the best results, you need to match the specific capabilities of different types of security cameras to the locations they are deployed. 

Here are the main places you should install security cameras in your store:

  1. Parking lot
  2. Entrances and exits
  3. Shipping and receiving area
  4. Stockroom
  5. Sales floor (“center store”)
  6. Point of sale

Parking lot

A lot can go wrong in parking lots. Drivers looking for a free spot might be paying less attention to their immediate surroundings, leading to accidents. Smash and grabs and car thefts occur. The last employees leaving late at night could be accosted for any number of reasons. 

Security cameras in retail parking lots help with all of these issues. Foremost, when an incident occurs, the cameras provide evidence of who is at fault, reducing the potential liability risk of the store. In addition, it is often these parking lot cameras that provide the best evidence of incidents in the store as well thanks to clear views of faces and license plate recognition.

However, retail video surveillance can provide proactive safety measures as well.

Here’s an example. Employees working late at night might be concerned about taking out the trash or walking to their cars when their shifts end. Giving these employees access to the outdoor camera feeds on the Solink app allows them to look at the live footage to make sure the way is safe before they go outside. 

In these areas, high-definition (HD) or even 4k turret cameras mounted well above the reach of people are effective.

security cameras in stores-parking lot

Entrances and exits

There should be cameras facing the inside and outside of every entrance and exit, as well as all windows. These cameras provide the initial, visible deterrence to potential shoplifters, reminding them that they will be identified. 

In addition, security cameras in stores can double as footfall counters. By having a good idea about the number of visitors who enter or exit your store, you can unlock more business metrics including conversion rates and average revenue per visitor.

Since store security cameras near entrances and exits are often placed within arm’s reach to get the best possible image of facial features, dome cameras are recommended.

security cameras in stores-entrance

Shipping and receiving area

When merchandise is brought into the store, there are often non-employees in the backroom unloading the cargo. This can lead to security issues. Procedural breakdowns often occur during receiving, for example not having two employees checking the manifest to make sure everything was received

One way to safeguard against these failures is to have prominently placed security cameras facing the doors and with full view of the receiving area.

Dome or turret cameras work well in these areas. For larger receiving areas, a fisheye camera may also work well.


Employee theft isn’t constrained to the sales floor. Merchandise can go missing from the backroom as well. In fact, if everything is kept in non-descript cardboard boxes, whole boxes may go missing. 

There is also an increased risk of employee injury in the stockroom where pallet movers, cardboard balers and other heavy equipment is operated. Furthermore, there is a risk of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines if employee negligence leads to an unclean stockroom or blocked emergency exit. All of this can be combated with well-placed security cameras in the stockroom of your stores.

Dome and turret cameras work well in the stockroom.

Operational Shrink-Storage area

Sales floor (“center store”)

Sometimes called “center store,” the sales floor is perhaps the most obvious place to install security cameras. These cameras provide strong deterrence to both employee theft and shoplifting as well as video evidence when theft does occur. 

However, cameras covering the sales floor provide other benefits as well. For example, they can help reduce operational shrink, improve customer service standards, and maintain a clean and safe store environment.

Depending on the layout, the height of shelving, and where cameras can be practically installed, dome, turret, and fisheye cameras could all be used here.

security cameras in stores-entrance

Point of sale

The point of sale (POS) is where most theft occurs. Whether POS employee theft or gift card scams, security cameras need to be present to monitor this high-risk location. 

Most POS systems provide retailers with a wealth of information, but that data only tells half the story. For example, both discount abuse and vital sales to employees will feature employee discounts in the transaction data. Without reviewing the retail surveillance footage, you can never be sure whether a transaction is legitimate or not. 

POS monitoring can be accomplished with turret or dome retail security cameras.

Operational Shrink-Point of sale

What features should you look for in a retail video surveillance system?

Security cameras in stores represent a deterrence to theft simply because they are visible to guests as they enter the business. However, when something does go wrong, security cameras alone are an impractical tool. Many loss prevention professionals would incur greater labor expenses investigating an incident than the value of the stolen merchandise. 

Here is everything you need to complete your retail security system.

Cloud VMS

A video management system (VMS) gives you access to your security camera footage. A traditional VMS isn’t much more than a hard drive connected to a TV that allows you to fast forward through hours of footage until you find the clip you are looking for so you can copy it to a USB stick.

A cloud VMS makes it possible to use powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tools to interpret data. Instead of manually finding incidents, the cloud VMS finds videos showing activity in the area of interest or pair footage to transaction data coming from your point of sale (POS).

AI video analytics

By connecting the security cameras in your store to a cloud VMS, you gain access to powerful AI video analytics tools. License plate recognition, motion detection, and people counting are just some of the retail video surveillance tools made possible by AI. 

Automated camera health checks

Cameras are only useful when they are online, unobstructed, and recording. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and most people don’t know whether the security cameras in their stores are operational until they need the footage.

Solink performs automatic camera health checks to alert you to issues with your cameras so they are always online.


Most retail businesses have multiple different systems running in their stores. Connecting the data from all of them improves the overall security level of the stores while also unlocking new business insights. 

Here’s how two types of integrations, POS and access control, impact the security of retail businesses.

POS integrations

Pairing video with POS data helps you better understand what is happening in your stores. While high-risk transactions such as voids and employee discounts could be an indicator of theft, they also have legitimate uses. Solink pairs video to receipts without a text inserter box, so you can audit transactions for theft.

Frazier Farms uses Solink’s POS integrations to protect the front-end of their grocery stores. Here’s what Matt Frazier, one of the co-owners, has to say:

“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."

Access control integrations

Access control systems are designed to keep unauthorized people out of your business. However, they are often bypassed when employees share passwords or key fobs. Solink integrates with access control systems to give you a clear image of who accessed your building, every time your access control system is triggered.

Mobile app

Asset protection professionals at national retailers spend a lot of time auditing their stores. Since they spend so much time on the road, they need a way to review what is happening at their other retail locations. 

Mobile apps that offer all the same functionality as the laptop version of the platform are a necessary feature of retail video surveillance systems.

Dashboards and widgets

Many businesses use the security cameras in their stores for strictly reactive purposes. When merchandise goes missing, they review footage to find and catalog the incident. However, there are often patterns in the data that can lead loss prevention professionals to uncover theft, or even procedural weak points that make theft possible, long before it would be noticed otherwise. 

Solink gathers all of your data and organizes it into widgets. This makes it easy to uncover patterns. For example, if you notice specific employees who are using voids regularly, then it might indicate ongoing theft or retraining needs. 

However, much like the following features, your dashboard and fully customizable widgets give new value to the security cameras in your stores. In addition to loss prevention, the Solink platform provides the business intelligence you need to make better staffing decisions, improve customer service standards, and more.

People counting

Counting the number of people entering your store provides the data required to calculate many useful metrics, such as the average length of visit, average value of a visitor, total hourly traffic, and various conversion rates.

In the past, this would require separate footfall counting equipment. However, using advanced AI video analytics, it is now possible to count people using your retail video surveillance system.

Heat maps

Heat maps tell you where people frequent in your stores. This gives you critical information about how to best place merchandise within your locations. This is just one more way that the right security cameras in your store provide value well beyond just retail surveillance.

Proactive alerts

Retail surveillance can do more than wait for you to investigate an incident. By pairing with other data sources, your security cameras can let you know when issues arise. For example, Solink gives you the ability to set thresholds on all of your key performance indicators (KPIs) so you’ll be alerted whenever one is outside your comfort zone.

Threshold Notifications tells you when your key metrics are not where they should be by alerting you via SMS, email, and/or your daily or weekly digest. Use video and transactions together to validate and/or explain the cause of these outliers.

Video alarms

Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service is better, cheaper, and easier to deploy than traditional panel alarms.

Solink’s Video Alarms use your existing security cameras as an alarm system. Unlike panel alarms, which only protect doors and windows, video alarms protect entire areas. Individual areas can be turned on and off separately with one-click controls, so the backdoor can be secured while the store is open for business.

In partnership with trained professionals, we verify every event before dispatching emergency responders. This leads to faster response times when necessary while avoiding unnecessary dispatches and hefty false alarm fines.

Save and share

Once you’ve saved needed security footage to the cloud, sharing it within your organization or with law enforcement is effortless. Simply send the URL to individuals requiring access to the video clip and they can easily view it. 

The Solink platform streamlines this process through an automated save and share system, ensuring convenience and efficiency.

Remote video monitoring

On-premises loss prevention audits aren’t going anywhere, and they shouldn’t. However, for asset protection professionals in charge of many retail locations, remote audits allow you to pay extra attention to the stores with ongoing issues. 

In fact, remote video monitoring is crucial for larger organizations. Solink enables real-time access to your data from any location. This means you can conveniently observe video footage of ongoing events and review all the relevant data gathered from interconnected systems on your laptop or mobile device.

Learn how Solink can support your business.

12 benefits of retail video surveillance

Security cameras in retail stores provide a lot of value, from reduced theft and better security to better understanding of your business and its customers. Here are 12 benefits of retail surveillance: 

  1. Deter crime
  2. Reduce employee theft
  3. Uncover shoplifting incidents
  4. Ensure OSHA and company policy compliance
  5. Streamline case management
  6. Minimize insurance cost
  7. Eliminate on-site security needs
  8. Understand customer behavior
  9. Make better merchandising decisions
  10. Gain business insights through data integrations
  11. Perform remote monitoring
  12. Improve customer service standards

Deter crime

The theft triangle stipulates that people are more likely to commit crimes if they believe they will not be caught. In this way, providing deterrence to theft is an effective crime mitigation strategy. Security cameras are considered the most effective form of crime deterrence for stores because they give the accurate impression that any criminal activity will be documented.

Reduce employee theft

There are many different types of employee theft, but most of them come under the umbrella of POS employee theft. Discount abuse, using voids to pocket cash, or working with someone else to commit return frauds are all common tactics employees use to steal from their company. 

By pairing transaction data with video, Solink gives you the ability to review all of your high-risk transactions in minutes. Simply type in keywords such as “void” and then review video of all the matching transactions to make sure proper procedures are being followed.

Uncover shoplifting incidents

When an employee notices missing merchandise, loss prevention professionals tend to review footage of the location in the hopes of documenting the incident. However, manually reviewing hours of footage can take so much time that it is often more expensive to investigate shoplifting incidents than to write off the merchandise and move on.

Solink offers motion-based search capabilities to find shoplifting incidents in minutes. Simply paint the shelf where the merchandise went missing and then skip from one motion event to the next. When you discover the shoplifting incident, you can use Camera Linking to follow the suspect through the store to see if they’ve taken anything else.

Ensure OSHA and company policy compliance

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines can be significant. One common issue that results in an OSHA fine is a blocked exit. Even though employees are often aware of the safety risk of a blocked exit, they may still stack empty boxes by the door during the day. 

In the Solink platform, you can review hundreds of locations in a few minutes by simply creating a group with all cameras facing the back exit of your locations and then scrolling through them to confirm they are not being blocked.

A single prevented OSHA fine often represents a year or more of positive ROI for your retail surveillance system.

Streamline case management

Every step of an investigation can be time consuming:

  1. Uncovering an incident
  2. Saving all of the videos, including multiple angles
  3. Collecting all of the related events together
  4. Sharing the evidence with law enforcement, managers, HR, insurers, etc. using USB sticks
  5. Following up on the incident as it progresses

This often discourages retailers from investigating incidents or putting high minimum values on the threshold to initiate the investigation. Difficulty sharing video evidence with law enforcement can also result in a lack of acceptable resolution.

Solink helps streamline the case management process. Motion- and event-based search functions make it easier to uncover theft incidents. They also make it easier to then see whether the same person is involved in multiple theft events. 

Once events are found, they can all be saved to the same folder, including every angle of the incidents. Each individual video can be named and a description added along with the metadata describing when and where the video was recorded.

Finally, saved videos can be shared with anyone securely via email, eliminating the need for USB sticks. When the police are confident that evidence will be provided, they are far more likely to follow up on incidents and provide an acceptable resolution to theft events.

Minimize insurance cost

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines are expensive. Furthermore, if your retail business has a history of safety incidents, then your insurance premiums are likely going to be higher than they need to be. That’s because most workers’ compensation boards across North America calculate your risk multiplier based (at least partially) on how often injury claims are made by your employees.

Using your retail video surveillance system to audit health and safety regulation compliance can make your stores safer. That makes it a better place to work, as well as a cheaper place to insure.

Eliminate on-site security needs

Virtual guarding uses the security cameras in retail stores to replace the need for on-site security guards. Utilizing motion detection and other video analytics tools, Solink can better watch over your retail stores during the day and at night. 

Understand customer behavior

There are patterns in customer behavior that might not be noticed by individuals working in stores, but your cloud-based video surveillance system aggregates all of this data to understand the trends. This can help you pick the best sales strategy or optimize scheduling to maximize revenue generation. 

Make better merchandising decisions

As mentioned above, understanding customer behavior can also lead to better merchandising decisions. For example, placing items that are often purchased on the same trip further apart means that customers need to see more of your store, which may lead to impulse buying. Placing expensive items on the well-walked parts of the heat map and the generic versions on the less visited places can improve margins. 

These are just some of the business insights that can be gained from your retail video surveillance solution.

Gain business insights through data integration

Heat maps are a great way to gain business insights from the security cameras in your stores. However, that’s just the start. Solink’s retail surveillance solution integrates with your POS and other systems to pair video with data. 

For example, you can see what percentage of your transactions include an employee asking the customer if they have a loyalty card or would like one. You can also check for price discrepancies in transactions and other forms of operational shrink.

Perform remote monitoring

One of the key benefits of cloud-based security cameras in stores is that every location can be reviewed using the same software, from anywhere and at any time. This provides an unparalleled level of oversight to large retailers. 

Improve customer service standards

Increased revenue and reduced external theft are the two main reasons retailers want employees to engage with every customer who enters the store. However, ongoing staffing issues and a recent cultural shift towards time theft have led to this simple mandate not being followed.

By reviewing customer interactions on your security cameras, you can provide retraining to staff who aren’t following the guidelines while praising those who do during your morning meetings.

Retail video surveillance FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about retail video surveillance.

Are there security cameras in stores?

Yes. Most retail stores have security cameras.

What types of security cameras are used in retail stores?

Many types of security cameras are used in stores. Turret, dome, and fisheye cameras are often used. While many retail surveillance systems still rely on analog security cameras, they are being updated to digital security cameras.

Are there hidden security cameras in retail stores?

While some retailers use hidden security cameras, this is less popular now. Most consumers understand that security cameras are ubiquitous and that recording is common in businesses, so visible cameras are far more common now.

Should stores use hidden cameras?

Hidden security cameras do not provide the same level of deterrence as visible surveillance systems. In addition, due to the recent increase in violent crime, many consumers feel comforted by the presence of security systems. Hidden security cameras are not recommended for use in retail stores.

Where should you place security cameras in a store?

Security cameras should be placed such that they provide complete coverage of the retail location, including parking lots, entrances and exits, the shipping and receiving area, the stockroom, the sales floor, and the point of sale (POS) systems.

What are the important features of a retail video surveillance system?

Retail video surveillance systems benefit from cloud-based features such as remote monitoring and AI video analytics. In addition, they should be able to integrate with other retail systems such as the POS to maximize the benefit of having security cameras in the store.

What are the benefits of using a retail video surveillance system?

Retail video surveillance systems provide a deterrence to crime, help reduce internal and external theft, create a safer environment for customers and employees, and can even drive revenue growth through new business insights.

Solink is the best retail video surveillance system

Retail video surveillance provides more benefits than just better loss prevention. Solink’s cloud video surveillance solution connects all of your systems to improve security and unlock your data.

To find out how Solink gets the most out of the security cameras in your stores, sign up for a demo today.

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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.