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"Balancing Act: Security and Customer Experience in Retail - How Can Businesses Succeed?"

Technological Solutions to Reduce Shrinkage in Retail

Soluciones tecnológicas para retail

In the current era, the challenge of implementing security solutions in the retail sector has not only intensified but has also evolved to encompass crucial aspects such as customer experience. Traditional security practices, such as receipt checks at the exit or bag inspections, while effective in the past, can now create unwanted frictions.

These intrusive methods are not only prone to misunderstandings but also risk being negatively disseminated through social media, impacting the brand's public perception.

In this context, a visit to a physical store should be more than a mere transaction; it is expected to be an enriching experience. With the rise of e-commerce, physical stores are transforming into spaces that offer added value, evolving into small shopping centers equipped with restaurants, cafes, travel agencies, and drugstores, among other services. This experience-oriented approach has led to the implementation of innovations such as self-checkout stations and the use of reusable bags by customers, presenting new challenges for security teams.

Faced with this reality, there is a growing demand for technologically advanced security solutions capable of adapting to these new trends without compromising the customer experience. Video analytics emerges as an attractive solution in this field, offering a discreet and efficient approach to combat shrinkage and detect suspicious behaviors without disturbing the shopping experience. This article will explore various aspects of security in the current retail context, evaluating advantages and disadvantages, and highlighting how innovative solutions like video analytics are making a difference in the industry.

Existing Technological Solutions in Retail

Technology plays a crucial role in theft prevention and security improvement without sacrificing the customer experience. Below, we mention the most commonly used technologies today.

Anti-Theft Antennas - EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance c

EAS Antenas antirobo
Antena EAS

EAS systems operate by installing electronic tags or labels on products, which are deactivated or removed at the point of sale once the item is purchased. The EAS antennas, positioned at the entrances and exits of establishments, can detect any tag passing between them, triggering an alarm that alerts security personnel.

One of the major strengths of EAS systems lies in their broad coverage of the establishment with antennas only needing installation at entrances, allowing for constant and deterrent surveillance against theft. These systems are effective in detecting unpaid items, significantly contributing to shrinkage reduction.

However, these solutions come with certain challenges. Tags can be removed or deactivated inside the store. Additionally, the system's effectiveness may be compromised if not well calibrated or if the sensors are obstructed with materials that interfere with the signal. The need to continually install tags on new products can also increase the workload for staff.

CCTV: A Classic Solution in Retail Security

CCTV en retail

Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) represents one of the most widespread and recognized security solutions in the retail environment. Its popularity is not only due to the availability of low-cost options but also to its effectiveness as a deterrent and evidence collection tool.

The presence of security cameras itself is a powerful deterrent as it gives the impression of being watched at all times. This not only can prevent events before they occur but also ensures that any suspicious activity is recorded, facilitating the identification and prosecution of offenders.

One of the main challenges associated with CCTV use is the difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of operators in detecting incidents. While some sources suggest that an operator can monitor up to 16 cameras simultaneously, this capacity varies significantly depending on various factors, such as the type of event monitored and the duration of the shift. It is evident that the operator's effectiveness decreases as the observation time extends. The general consensus indicates that a more realistic range would be between 6 to 12 cameras for not very extensive periods.

However, in large retail environments, it is not uncommon to find systems that integrate more than 50 cameras, under the premise that the more cameras installed, the better the security coverage. This perception is being questioned and reconsidered by security experts who advocate complementing it with more sophisticated and efficient techniques such as video analytics..

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification): Advancing Retail Security

RFID merma

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is an advanced technology that distinguishes itself from traditional solutions like Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) by offering a dual capability: not only does it prevent theft, but it also facilitates inventory management through its ability to store data in tags. These tags, when interacting with RFID readers, transmit unique information about each product, enabling precise real-time inventory tracking and optimizing both security and stock management.

The primary strength of RFID lies in its ability to combine security with operational efficiency, significantly enhancing inventory tracking and availability. This, in turn, enriches the customer experience by ensuring product availability.

However, the implementation cost of RFID, involving investment in tags, readers, and software, can be considerably higher than simpler systems like EAS, posing a challenge for widespread adoption in the retail sector, especially among smaller operators

Facial Recognition in Retail: Innovation and Ethics

Reconocimiento facial colombia

Facial recognition, as one of the most innovative technologies applied in the retail sector, aims to enhance the security of establishments through the proactive identification of individuals who have previously engaged in inappropriate behavior. Using databases storing photos of individuals identified in conflict situations, this technology allows them to be automatically detected by cameras at entrances upon re-entering the establishment, alerting staff to take preventive action.

While facial recognition can be effective in improving security, one of the main challenges lies in the precise calibration of detection thresholds. Adjusting these parameters is crucial to balance the rate of true detections against false alarms.

Beyond technical challenges, the use of biometric data-based technologies such as facial recognition faces increasing ethical scrutiny. Concerns about privacy and individual consent, coupled with the potential for abuse or discrimination, pose significant dilemmas in their deployment. These ethical issues are sparking a broader debate on how and when these technologies should be used, driving the need to establish clear regulatory frameworks that safeguard individual rights without compromising security.

Behavioral Video Analytics

Detección de comportamientos con video analítica

Among the most notable technological innovations in the retail sector is behavioral analytics through video analysis for the detection of suspicious behaviors. This technology, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), represents a significant advancement over traditional video analytics systems. Unlike static image analysis for intrusion detection, people counting, or facial recognition, this solution examines video sequences to identify dynamic movement patterns that may indicate unusual or suspicious behaviors.

Merely informing customers about the use of this technology through signs or displays can act as a powerful deterrent against theft or vandalism attempts. In contrast to facial recognition, behavioral analytics through video is inherently anonymous, as it does not rely on biometric data for its operation. This makes it a more privacy-friendly option.

One of the main technical challenges lies in fine-tuning the system to minimize the false alarm rate, which is essential to prevent the depletion of security resources and maintain operational efficiency.

At Antac, we have developed and refined this technology with the goal of identifying potentially suspicious behavioral patterns, such as product concealment or unauthorized consumption of beverages in the store

Toward the Future: Evolution of Technological Security in Retail

Soluciones tecnológicas para disminuir merma en retail

The traditional mindset in retail security has long equated the number of installed cameras with a robust surveillance system. However, the landscape is progressively shifting towards the adoption of advanced technologies that complement and enhance loss prevention beyond simply installing more surveillance hardware.

As outlined in this article, it's not about pitting one technology against another but integrating systems that mutually reinforce each other to bolster overall security.

Behavioral video analytics, for example, can not only detect inappropriate actions in real-time but also allows the subsequent integration of collected data into facial recognition databases, expanding the scope of preventive surveillance. Similarly, it's possible to train behavioral analytics to detect if someone is trying to vandalize an EAS or RFID tag.

It's essential to understand security as a multifaceted goal that involves multiple departments within an organization. For instance, a behavioral video analytics system is not only a security tool but, when connected to displays, can alternate between advertising and warning messages. This duality not only serves a preventative function but can also generate revenue to fund security investments.

Priority should be given to technologies that act preventively and as deterrents rather than purely reactive ones. The aim is to evolve towards semi-autonomous solutions that provide deterrence and prevention without complete reliance on human intervention, thereby reducing operational errors. Optimizing the efficiency of security personnel, redirecting them from monotonous tasks like constant monitoring of a video wall to more strategic roles, is a key objective.

If you are ready to take the step towards implementing these emerging technologies and are interested in exploring our behavioral detection video analytics solution, we invite you to contact us for a demonstration.

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