Retailers across all industries are taking steps to automate the in-store shopping experience, merging online and offline to create more integrated, seamless buying journeys. Yet, as bricks-and-mortar retailers move towards automation, this increases their exposure to crime vulnerabilities.
Reporting on the topic, Retail Technology Innovation Hub states that the forthcoming British Retail Crime Survey is expected to report a hike in the direct financial cost of retail crime, and the money allocated to loss prevention. While a significant percentage of retail crime is now cyber-related, in-store theft still accounts for a large chunk of total crime.
With Amazon Go planning to open as many as six outlets this year, UK retailers are all experimenting with ways to cut queue time and enhance the customer experience. As World Wide Technology (WWT) outlines, automating parts of the in-store experience could mean fewer employees on the ground, requiring retailers to rethink how they approach crime prevention.
Vice president of digital at WWT, Matt Sebeck, believes that the surge in retail crime, together with increased spend on prevention, must be met with a comprehensive and well-structured strategy. Amazon’s high-tech approach involves implementing face recognition and motion sensors within its stores. Yet even this tech can be thwarted, for instance, if a customer wears a cap over their face.
“In our theft prevention work with retailers, we’ve found that a softer approach is possible, driven by data. In 2017, a leading café chain in the US introduced a ‘rapid pick me up’ scheme to enable faster [click and collect] services. They, like most retailers, were worried that this would increase theft vulnerabilities,” said Sebeck.
Sebeck said that a whole host of data could be utilised to safeguard against theft. For instance, RFID tags – which River Island has rolled out within its stores – hold data that can be used for both real-time and historical reporting, enabling brands to track which products are most picked up, moved about the store and most susceptible to being stolen.
“Using the in-store network, we also look at customer journey patterns to design a store plan which places the most vulnerable items in the most secure location,” said Sebeck. He said that when using this “multi-faceted approach,” there is typically no increase in in-store theft when retailers have a quick pick-up option.
Retail crime prevention often boils down to the data of who, what and where, said Sebeck. Analysing data from consumers who are logged into in-store Wi-Fi, for example, grants managers a real-time view of movement in their shops, so they can identify crowded areas and identify the shoppers present. RFID tags similarly share data on the movement of high-value items through stores, while data can help retailers pinpoint busy times of the day so they can boost vigilance during those hours.
If you’re a security specialist looking for a new and exciting job opportunity, how about joining the growing digital arm of River Island? You’ll use your skills and expertise to ensure top-level security in the IT systems we use, helping to lead us in our digital transformation. If you’re interested, take a look at the jobs on offer today.