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What Retailers Need to Know: Shoplifting 101

In 2016, the average inventory shrink rate increased to 1.44 percent. According to the National Retail Security Survey 2017, shoplifting by outside customers accounted for 37% retail inventory loss, followed by 30% in employee theft, 21% in administrative errors and 5% in vendor fraud. Together this loss accounted for $48.9 billion worth of inventory.

There are Many Ways of Controlling Shrink

Detecting and preventing shoplifting is an important part of any retail establishment. Whether caused by internal or external causes, controlling shrink is one of the most significant factors in controlling expenses. To do this, retailers have several options including employee training, auditing, loss prevention personnel, and loss prevention technologies.

Different Approaches to Address the Problem

Different establishments approach loss prevention differently, largely guided by budget and philosophy. The main focus could be deterrence, detection, or apprehension, and depending on the retailer’s philosophy, the loss prevention strategies utilized and policies instituted will reflect that philosophy.

Cost Effective Loss Prevention Technologies

Loss prevention technologies address every aspect of shrink, from deterrence to detection, and ultimately apprehension. Some of the most cost-effective strategies include CCTV and video surveillance, business intelligence software, and ScanCam. ScanCams helps prevent employee-caused shrink such as barcodes not registering, or making up fraudulent returns.

Quick Tips for Shoplifting Prevention

  • Use video surveillance and CCTV. Visible security deters crime.
  • Greet customers as soon as they enter the store to remove anonymity.
  • Watch for customers who avoid eye contact, seem nervous, wander the store, linger, or exhibit suspicious behavior.
  • Encourage employees to walk the store and talk to customers.
  • Keep the store clean and organized to maintain visibility.
  • Keep commonly stolen items in plain view.
  • Do not under-staff.
  • Eliminate employee distractions.
  • Post warnings in dressing rooms or bathrooms.

Stopping a Patron

Shoplifting laws allow retailers to stop and detain a person who has stolen merchandise. To do this properly in a way that can lead to prosecution requires following proper protocol.

  1. The employee must see the customer enter the area where the subject item is displayed.
  2. The employee must see the customer select and pick up the item.
  3. The customer must see the customer conceal, carry, push or pull the item from its location.
  4. The employee must maintain uninterrupted observation of the customer from the original location of the item to the point of detention.
  5. The employee must see that the patron failed to pay for the item.
  6. The shoplifter must be approached outside the store or after the last point of sale.

By properly addressing shoplifting with the right tools and strategies, a retailer can effectively reduce shrink. S-Tron has over 20 years of uncompromising experience in helping retail establishments reach their security goals.

Retail CCTV Business Analytics Matter. Here’s Why.

Over the last decade, the retail industry has experienced a transformation. As consumers spent more dollars shopping over the internet, traditional brick and mortar stores had to reevaluate their strategies and direct their focus on customer experience, store operations, and improved efficiencies in addition to loss prevention. It is a subtle shift with giant implications.
Traditionally, retailers have used CCTV and video surveillance primarily for physical security and loss prevention. Now, with the availability of high-powered computing platforms and advanced analytic algorithms CCTV and video surveillance help retailers make informed decisions that provide a competitive edge.

What Else Can Business Intelligence Do?
Loss prevention is a huge part of retail video surveillance, but retailers can get much more out of their investment—business intelligence. Business intelligence provides the insights retailers need to enhance sales and profit margins that affect the overall bottom-line.

Enhanced Customer Experience

Until recently, retailers had to rely on learning customer shopping trends through loyalty cards and POS transactions. While it did provide information on end-result shopping trends, it did not provide information about demographics, in-store behavior, or customer experience. Business analytics show how long customers spent in the store, what displays made the most impact, how long they waited in line, and whether or not the experience was positive. Knowing these things can help a retailer make better decisions in the moment and adjust strategies in real time.

Better Performance

Leveraging business intelligence provides key performance metrics so retailers can identify trends, or problems. They can also use the data to help compensate and incentivize performance.

Optimize the Workforce

One of the biggest costs in retail is staff. Staffing is also one of the most difficult aspects to manage. Overstaffing increases operational costs and understaffing can mean poor operations, dissatisfied customers, and ultimately- lost sales. By having a full view, and detailed analytics, business owners and managers can monitor shopper traffic and customer behavior to make better operational decisions for scheduling and staffing needs.

More Effective Merchandizing

Whether it is the right product, wrong placement or an altogether flop of a product, video business intelligence gives retailers an immediate understanding of customer behavior. The right information provided in the right time can make a dramatic improvement in sales.

Better Store Layouts

Comprehensive data about in-store movement patterns quickly reveal areas of bottleneck, hot spots, and areas that are infrequently visited. With this information, retailers can modify the store layout to better accommodate the shopper and drive shoppers through the store and to areas they might not have otherwise visited.

Today’s retail environment is competitive and leaves little room for error. Business analytics help retailers meet customer needs by zeroing in on customer experience and convenience—and drive sales. S-TRON specializes in retail loss prevention, CCTV and business intelligence and understands the needs of the retail business.

Why Should a Business Owner Opt in to Professional CCTV Systems vs Big Box DIY?

The integration of security technology into the business landscape has grown so quickly that it has become commonplace. Whereas once business owners debated whether or not to use security cameras and wondered if it could have a negative impact on their business, now CCTV security camera systems have become standard security equipment for businesses of any size in every industry. With the wide availability of DIY security options, the new question becomes, “Why should a business owner choose professionally installed CCTV systems over a DIY option?” There are some important answers.

There is a Difference in Equipment Offerings

Just like with any technology, there is a wide range of prices, quality, features, and operability between any given product type. Those differences are not necessarily apparent at first glance but become so while in practical use. There is a vast difference in security camera CCTV systems made for the professional market from those made for the commercial consumer market. Those differences can be critical when it is time to capture a crime on video and use the images in court.

Placement is a Science

Camera placement is tough. It takes an understanding of how to capture images in any given space as well as a vast knowledge of the capabilities of many different brands and types of cameras. I a commercial and business environment, it is essential to cover as much space as possible and use the correct cameras to cover critical areas, such as POS.

CCTV Systems are not One-size-Fits-All

Every business facility has a unique layout and orientation with different lighting issues. It is impossible to meet all of the needs and requirements of a business with a general DIY system or without a high level of knowledge and specificity.

They Must be Installed, and Integrated

Every CCTV surveillance system must be installed and should be integrated with the rest of your security and automation system. This means understanding system requirements, compatibility and capability issues—all of which impact the system wide functionality.

DIY Does Not mean Budget Friendly

One of the main reasons businesses consider a DIY system is price, thinking that the initial cost is much lower. In some cases, this can be true—initially. Keeping in mind the difference in equipment quality, DIY systems might have a lower initial cost in equipment, but that’s where it stops. The true cost comes in the time and effort involved in installation, integration, maintenance and all too soon, replacement. Even worse, poor quality images or not having covered an area where a crime occurred can also end up being quite costly in court.
Big box does not mean big savings or quality. When it comes to something as important as commercial security, it saves time and money doing it right the first time. S-TRON is an electronic security integrator for national and regional retail and hospitality companies, serving specialized needs with just as specialized solutions.

3 Indications That It’s Time For A New Video Surveillance Solution

There is no disputing that video surveillance is a critical component of your business’ security system, whether it is one c-store, restaurant, or chain of grocery stores it is a technology that is trusted and proven fundamental to protecting employees, customers, and property. But the question is, when is it time to replace the existing system with a new one?  

It is easy to hold on to old technology as long as possible to try to squeeze out the most value for our money, but doing so can actually cost us a great deal.

With so many frequent developments in technology it can be a hard determination, so we have a few guidelines to help you decide.

Is the Current System Malfunctioning?

This is probably the most common reason for updating a system.  You have seen it before—law enforcement publishing grainy or useless video footage to try to get a lead on a suspect. If the footage had been clear, the suspect would likely already have been in custody. Having a surveillance system is not enough.  For it to be of worth to you, it must be functioning properly. After a while, wear and tear on older equipment takes a toll on its ability to operate properly. Be sure to have your system serviced regularly to maintain the system’s health and detect signs indicating you may need to replace the system. If the system is producing poor quality images, or otherwise malfunctioning it is likely time for replacement.

Is the Business Expanding?

If the business is growing, either in the number of locations or expanding or reconfiguring the current location, it may be time to upgrade your current system. Today’s video surveillance systems are much smarter than their predecessors and offer owners many more advantages. Business owners can employ wireless networks to connect their video network and enable remote management capabilities.

Is the Technology Out of Date?

It is easy to hold on to old technology as long as possible to try to squeeze out the most value for our money, but doing so can actually cost us a great deal. Today’s video surveillance systems are much more cost effective than older versions and offer a host of advantages that can actually save money and improve overall profitability. For example, remote management allows unattended delivery monitoring, as well as process monitoring and verification. They can also reduce false alarms through video verification to keep business running smoothly without costly interruptions. New technology offers highly improved image resolution, scalability, and upgrade options over those of just a few years ago. If the current system does not have enough storage or provide benefits beyond just recording and storing footage, it is probably time for an upgrade.

Video surveillance system upgrades are often overlooked until the old system completely fails. Not only can this leave a serious gap in protection, it also means that the business is not leveraging the most advantage possible from the current technological offerings which could leave them at a serious disadvantage. If you have questions about video surveillance systems and technologies, give S-TRON a call today.

How CCTV Lowers Risk of Slip and Fall Accidents For Restaurants

One of the many important aspects of owning a restaurant or catering business is keeping the risks of slip and fall accidents as low as possible. One slip can mean losing a valuable employee or seeing a customer injured. It can also mean avoiding fraudulent lawsuits. That is why commercial security systems are so very valuable– CCTV lowers the risk of slip and fall accidents.

How Restaurants are Vulnerable to Slip and Fall Suits

In the food industry, slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of injury which leads to legitimate claims. The food industry is also vulnerable to fraudulent claims. Not surprisingly, it can stem from some of the same reasons.

  1. Restaurant environments are inherently dangerous. It is crowded, has lots of movement, and products. The floors are often wet or slippery. Workers are often carrying boxes or trays that obscure vision.
  2. Slip and fall accidents are common but every claim is problematic. Often the incidents happen in a crowded area where vision is obscured or completely out of sight. This means that there is no real way for the owner to argue the legitimacy of the claim.

Important Tips for Lowering Risks

Just by making a few simple changes, you can make your restaurant safer and reduce the likelihood of slip and fall.

  • Institute strict cleaning practices to keep floors free of food and other dangerous items.
  • Require employees wear non-slip shoes.
  • Monitor flow of traffic in the kitchen and dining area and make changes for improvement.
  • Store appliances, products, and supplies properly.
  • Check the floor and carpeting daily for breaks, rips, folds or worn spots.
  • Monitor for spills and clean up immediately.
  • Do not allow employees to stack when carrying trays or boxes in a way that obscure vision or hinders movement.
  • Use skidproof waxes on flooring.

How CCTV and Commercial Camera Systems Help Avoid Suits

Commercial CCTV and surveillance systems are one of the most important elements in reducing the likelihood of injury and of false claims by addressing the two main issues that make restaurants and caterers vulnerable to claims.

  1. CCTV and surveillance camera systems, with both overt and covert cameras,  allow you to monitor for problems that increase danger, such as when employees stack boxes or leave spills. This can help avoid problems that would lead to real and serious injury.
  2. Visible surveillance systems deter acts of fraud. It can also provide you with proof should anyone try.

About S-TRON

S-TRON offers an innovative suite of video surveillance products and professional installation for regional and national chains.  S-TRON is a electronic security integrator for national and regional retail and hospitality companies.

Established in 1995 and headquartered in Melville, NY, we have served thousands of retail locations across the country with best in class equipment installations and ongoing service, maintenance, and support. Our brand promise: “Service Excellence”.

Consumer or Commercial Grade Video Surveillance? What’s the Difference?

Most people in the market for a video surveillance system wonder: What’s the difference between consumer and professional, commercial grade CCTV and video surveillance systems. Will consumer grade surveillance systems work for a small or medium size business?

No matter the size of the business, commercial and consumer video surveillance systems are two completely different products and there are some differences that make them specific for their intended usage.

So Many Options in Commercial and Consumer Grade Video Surveillance Camera Systems

There are literally thousands of choices in video surveillance on the market, so it is easy to get lost in a sea of brands and options. There is a way to make it much easier to understand the options when you know that you can divide all of the choices into two groups: those intended for commercial use and those intended for residential usage.

Some Key Differences in Surveillance Systems

Because surveillance systems are made to fit a specific usage, they all have some basic differences that would impact your decision.

  • Commercial Systems have additional options to meet needs that are specific to their intended application, such as dramatic lighting changes, expansive spaces needing full coverage, analytics, exception reporting, networking, scalability and more.
  • Consumer Systems are made for the residential market. They offer features that are specific to residential needs, such as unobtrusive design, most suitable cameras and components, affordability, accessibility, and a host of other design features that make them a good fit for most consumer uses.  

But They Are Not Interchangeable

Video surveillance systems have become increasingly high-tech and complex as the industry rapidly advances. Because of this, it is getting harder to know which systems are intended for what, or what features you need. The systems are different, however, and no matter what level of features you want, you will find those features in a system designed for your application. Here are some reasons why the systems are not intended to be interchangeable.

  • Commercial Systems are not a good option for typical consumer usage because the system altogether would be complete overkill. The consumer would be left with a set of features that do not add anything to their security needs and complicate its usage. Additionally, a smaller space would impact the effectiveness of the cameras.
  • Consumer Security Camera Systems are conversely, not fit for business, professional, or commercial applications. Consumer systems do not have the features businesses need and would not be helpful in things such as combating shoplifting or useful in fighting false claims of injury. Consumer security systems are not made to power commercial grade cameras, such as infrared night vision security cameras and would render a commercial system virtually useless.

The retail, grocery, c-store, and restaurant industries have very specific security needs. S-Tron is an electronic security integrator with local and national reach specializing in meeting those needs.

 

Critical Reasons Your Retail Business Needs End-to-End Security

A recent industry study noted that most businesses (nearly 60%) monitor less than half of their valuable assets with video surveillance systems. This statistic does not include how many businesses thoroughly and effectively safeguard other aspects of the business, such as POI, entrances, and exits, or the overall business. This means that critical aspects of most businesses are left under or unprotected.

How Businesses Fail

In addition to under-utilizing security cameras and CCTV, responders to the survey reveal another problem—a failure to utilize analytics. Fewer than half actively monitor footage or use it to gain important business insights. The majority of users only store the footage and review it if a crime is suspected. Additionally, businesses fail to upkeep and upgrade security equipment frequently enough, resulting in incompatible technologies and low-quality images, among other issues.

Sharp Images Matter

Just having a video surveillance system is not good enough. The system must be able to provide quality images to be of ultimate advantage. Sharp images are necessary for identifying crime and those who commit them as well as in gaining important business insights that can help improve things like customer service and profitability.

Analytics Are Priceless

When most think of video surveillance and CCTV, they think of it in relation to deterring or spotting crime. However, these systems can also provide incredible insights on how the business works, or doesn’t. By tapping into that information, a business owner can spot issues in productivity, quality control, or traffic flow.

End-to-end Solutions Improve Security

Even better than security cameras and CCTV alone, when paired with intrusion detection and access control systems security and other advantages are multiplied exponentially. Together, problems are identified sooner and an emergency response initiated much more quickly.

Better Solutions Put Time on Your Side

Surveillance, security, and access control integrated systems put time on your side. While surveillance systems can spot someone committing a crime or in a restricted area, it still takes someone to see it to initiate a response. When paired with access control, you can be alerted to activity and initiate a response immediately.

End-to-end Solutions Improve the Cost Model for Security

Investing in security is important and businesses want to get the most out of their system as possible. Having and end-to-end solution makes that possible.  For example, having quality cameras means you can cover more area effectively which allows you to delegate funds toward access control solutions. Together these reduce loss more significantly than one or the other alone.

S-TRON Security Electronics is an electronic security integrator for national and regional retail and hospitality companies. For more information, call us today.

7 Ways Outdated Video Surveillance Solutions Put Your Business at Risk

It can be very tempting to put off updating your video surveillance system. One of the main reasons business owners cite for doing so is the desire to maximize the worth of their original security system investment. In many instances, extending the life of a tool does maximize its worth. This is not true of video surveillance systems for some very critical reasons, and knowing those reasons can keep you from unexpected and devastating loss.

1. Aging Systems Can Malfunction Without Warning

Surveillance systems run non-stop without notice, and often without maintenance. The system can seem fine on the surface but can malfunction without notice, often when it matters most.

2. Older Video Surveillance Systems Might Not Be Supported

All technology needs updates to stay current and the same is true for video surveillance systems. As new technology is released and updated, old technology may no longer be supported with critical updates.

3. Older Surveillance Technology May Not Be Compatible with Newer Systems

Security technology is rapidly advancing and today there is a vast amount of supportive systems available. Those supportive technologies are likely only compatible with newer systems.

4. The Longer it has Been Around, the More Vulnerable it Becomes

Hackers are skilled at their craft and the longer a system has been around, the more time they have had to crack the code or find ways around its effectiveness.

5. Your Security Needs Change

Over the course of several years, your security needs change vastly and the longer your surveillance system has been in place, the more likely it is that it no longer meets your real needs. For example, your business could have grown or been remodeled making the older system ill placed or ineffective in a larger space. With increased traffic and employees, you might need security monitoring, or the ability to restrict access which older systems may not support.

6. Older Systems May Not Run Optimally

Even a system that has received regular professional maintenance can experience problems with time and usage. Systems that use magnetic tapes for example find out that the tape has a limited lifetime only after there is an incident they hope to have captured.

7. Missing Out on Important Insights

One of the biggest disadvantages of an older system is that they are not usually compatible with systems that provide valuable business insights, analytics, and access. This means you may be missing out on remote access and control, alerts, and the analytics that can improve safety and business functions.

An effective video surveillance system is the core of your business security. S-Tron’s suite of innovative video surveillance products yield critical reporting metrics that provide security, safety and marketing data in one comprehensive solution. For more information, call S-Tron Security Electronics today.

7 Ways to Maximize Your Security Investment

As a business owner, you have done all the right and practical things to protect your business like keeping the grounds well-lit, and keeping landscaping simple, cut back, and low to the ground. You have also invested in a security system with features such as intrusion detection, access control and video surveillance that help keep your employees and customers safe.

Security systems are a necessary and worthwhile investment, but did you know that your security equipment can do much more than provide protection?  This same equipment can give you a competitive edge and improve your business.

Security is Your New Superpower

Security systems aren’t just for security any more. That same system can be one of the most powerful tools you have in mitigating risks, reducing cost, and improving productivity and customer service. Here are just a few of the nearly endless ways you can maximize your security system investment.

  • False liability claims are one of the costliest problems a business can encounter. A quick review of your high definition recorded video can help to quickly alleviate or reject those costly claims, and keep the swindlers out of your profits.
  • You can also use your security system to gain marketing insights by remotely viewing how customers react to product placement, in-store marketing, and store-layout. Gaining this insight lets you make swift adjustments to help increase your sales and profits.
  • Rather than be over or under staffed, know the ebb and flow of each day in the month and schedule accordingly.
  • Remote video surveillance can also provide insight about where employees need more training. Proper training can help reduce loss, costs, and injuries.
  • Another valuable way to use your security systems is to ensure excellent customer service. One bad experience can send a customer to the business down the street—for good.
  • Great security can also prove you are in compliance with federal, state, and local laws showing that your employees are performing critical duties as they should.
  • Video surveillance can also provide insight on what employees do when business is slow, such as find a job to do or hop on their cell phone.

Stretching Your Investment

Improving security was probably your main objective in choosing your security system. But the money you spent to protect your business, employees and customers can serve other important non-security needs that can maximize that investment and make your business as profitable and competitive as possible. The great news is that it does not take anything more than you already have to provide huge additional advantage!

S-TRON is an electronic security integrator serving regional and national retail and hospitality companies. S-TRON delivers real solutions that help alleviate the real world problems and challenges these industries face.

Is Security Technology Worth the Investment?

It is a question many restaurants and retail, grocery, and convenience stores face immediately. Is retail security technology really worth the investment? While the answer may seem obvious, with budgets stressed to the limit it is a question many owners have to consider carefully.

Undoubtedly, electronic security is a valuable tool, but is it one that actually pays off? The answer is yes. The restaurants, retail, grocery, and c-store industries face billions of dollars in losses each year to employee theft and shoplifting alone and electronic security provides numerous long-term, cost-effective solutions to reduce shrinkage and maximize profits.

Shoplifting is Not a Small Crime

If you are debating the value of security cameras and CCTV, one jaw dropping fact is probably enough to convince you—

  • The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention estimates that over $13 billion worth of goods are shoplifted from retail stores each year. That is about $35 million in losses daily.

So why do security cameras and CCTV play an important role in prevention and apprehension? A visible security system is always a deterrence as thieves do not want to get caught. Veteran shoplifters are so experienced that they often elude the attention of loss prevention security, but they cannot elude being caught on camera. This is important when it is time to have proof.

Employee Theft. We don’t Want to Believe it but it’s True

Even when the employees have passed exhaustive background checks and interviews, it is still important to have security cameras to serve as theft prevention. In the event you suspect employee theft, having video proof can help you rule out suspects.

There is No Love in Sweethearting

Sweethearting, or giving friends and family discounted or free items can be very difficult to catch as employees learn ways to be very discrete ways to commit the crime. But when employees give unauthorized discounts or fail to scan items, it costs you money. Video can give you a bird’s eye view of point of sale so you can spot trouble in the act.

Some Flash Mobs are Not Inspirational

Flash mob theft is a relatively new tactic but is becoming a major problem, particularly in larger cities. During a flash mob theft, a large group of people, usually young adults or adolescents, raid a store all at once, some screaming and threatening, others breaking and throwing objects, and still more stealing products. While it is never advisable to intervene in a life-threatening situation, having video footage of the event can be helpful to law enforcement in apprehension and conviction of the perpetrators.

Don’t Forget Organized Crime

Yes, large underground shoplifting rings are active all across the US. The perpetrators are so skilled that store owners, management or employees may not even notice until they see empty shelves, but security cameras capture all the action and give law enforcement a chance to identify the thieves.

Your security is a big deal and worth the modest investment. If you have any questions about security for restaurants, retail and grocery stores, give S-Tron a call. S-Tron is a national security systems integrator with local, professional service and installation.