Using technology to combat retail crime in the UK

  • Chloe Hersee

With retail crime on the rise, an increasing number of retailers are looking at implementing innovative new IT systems to try and combat this growing, expensive problem.

In stores, the trend towards allowing customers to try-before-you-buy means that retailers are investing in updating their security surveillance cameras and systems, so that they reflect the ways that customers now move around the stores and engage actively with products. Mobile point of sale technology, which allows employees to move around the shop floor facilitates further surveillance and a roaming physical presence can also act as a powerful crime deterrent.

Crime is a constant battle for even the most sophisticated of retailers

There is also a trend towards pairing video analytics with security cameras, allowing real-time analysis of the way in which customers move around the shop floor, and identifying suspicious activity. This can also be integrated with point-of-sale technology to allow for identifying loss patterns in relation to employees which may also be engaging in theft from the retailer.

Another key trend is a movement towards implementing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies, which allow a business to track individual products and components throughout the supply chain from production to point-of-sale. These systems allow retailers to monitor issues within the supply chain, for example, at distribution centres and warehouses, and when in-store, to improve stock security.

They also allow a retailer to more accurately identify high-risk outlets and ranges. The costs associated with RFID tagging have recently fallen making it particularly attractive to retailers.

Changes to retailers’ routes to market, for example, the increasing consumer trend towards multi-play interaction, has also led to more emphasis on cyber security. Online, compliance with payment card industry standards remains a key concern for retailers, which needs to be flowed down the supply chain. Full penetration and vulnerability testing on systems to identify any issues and weaknesses is also key.

Crime is a constant battle for even the most sophisticated of retailers and, in our experience, those that are best placed to combat it are those that embrace new technology. It is therefore increasingly important to ensure that retailers have robust legal agreements in place with their technology providers, ensuring compliance with regimes payment card industry standard and data protection, as well as appropriate allocations of risk and reward, service levels in respect of downtime and incident resolution and the ability for retailers to seek to recover losses incurred as a result of third party IT failures.

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