Jun 12 2023

The Retail Threats That Impact the Safety of Retail Employees

As the retail landscape evolves, employees rely more on enhanced video surveillance and data analytics to prevent loss and boost productivity.

Since shoppers have returned to stores after the height of the pandemic, in-person retail sales have increased. But with the uptick in sales, retailers have seen a correlating increase in losses through retail shrink.

According to the 2022 Retail Security Survey from the National Retail Federation, “When taken as a percentage of total retail sales in 2021, that shrink represents $94.5 billion in losses, up from $90.8 billion in 2020.”

Detailing the trend, NRF notes that “the majority of retailers report that in-store, ecommerce and omnichannel fraud have risen.” Violence is another a growing concern. In response, retailers have made addressing guest-on-associate violence, external theft and organized retail crime a priority, NRF says.

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Enhanced Video Surveillance Improves the Employee Experience

While loss is a major concern for any retailer, it isn’t the only negative consequence of criminal and nuisance activity in brick-and-mortar stores. Left unchecked, these incidents can affect the experiences of both customers and employees.

One potential solution to deter this activity is OnView’s real-time security system. Andy Szanger, director of strategic industries at CDW, recommends OnView for multiple uses in retail. “It’s obviously deterring the nuisance crimes, but it’s also helping with employee safety and customer experience,” he says.

Szanger notes that such a system can improve employee safety, which can help to address staffing issues. “It can help with employee retention and recruiting because retailers can speak about that employee safety component of their work environment,” he says. “And in this current environment, with labor shortages, you need to make sure that you have the best employee experience possible.”

DIVE DEEPER: How retailers can win over customers as they return to stores.

CDW’s Chris Black, IoT and digital transformation practice leader, says enhanced video surveillance can’t solve every physical security issue, but it can help prevent criminal intent. It cleans up a lot of retailers’ problems, he says, but it won’t solve for someone aggressively robbing a store. “That’s not what it’s built for,” he says. “But it prevents the intent, and it drives people who are going to do bad things away from that location and off to somewhere else.”

Enhanced video surveillance can also be used to prevent repeat offenses, alleviating stress on employees. Link Simpson, CDW’s enhanced video surveillance practice lead, explains that facial matching can be used when a person commits crimes repeatedly, even across multiple locations. “By establishing that someone is a repeat offender, you’re much more likely to get a response in terms of somebody showing up from the police department. OnView does that type of thing,” he says.

Click the banner below to learn how enhanced video surveillance can help prevent retail loss.

Tech Tools Allow Employees to Improve the Customer Experience

While enhanced video surveillance and data analytics can allow employees to focus on providing good customer service, other tech tools can amplify those efforts.

Automation can help employees elevate the customer experience in multiple ways. According to Retail Dive, “Retail customers are a fan of automation, and, in most cases, they tend to prefer it. Our research shows that 73% of consumers actually prefer that local retailers use automation instead of staff in at least one area of the shopping experience.”

Automation allows store employees to spend less time on tasks such as inventory management and more time on providing the face-to-face service shoppers have come to expect from an in-store experience.

READ MORE: Three ways AI-powered video reduces retail theft.

The rise of mobile devices and edge computing have given retailers access to real-time data that’s extremely valuable when working with customers. According to Accenture, “Empowering retail workers with data means giving them actionable insight, which should look to augment their retail expertise, thereby helping them decide what activity would be most valuable at any given moment.”

Experts from Dell Technologies agree on the untapped value of edge computing: “Edge AI boosts human-machine collaboration in retail by automating tasks and powering virtual assistantspredictive analytics, sensors, and robots. These AI tools free up store staff for tasks requiring human skills, offer personalized information, optimize product offerings, track inventory, detect theft, and provide real-time data analysis and recommendations to improve the customer experience.”

Amazon also recognizes edge computing’s potential, incorporating it in its AWS Solutions for Retail. “Using Edge Computing Solutions on AWS, retailers can create a smart-store architecture that runs both cloud and edge workloads and supports advanced capabilities, like Internet of Things and computer vision projects,” Amazon Web Services notes. “With these solutions, retailers can deliver unique in-store experiences to customers and automate tasks for peak efficiency.”

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