With an increase in online shopping and reduced footfall in high street shops, retailers are gradually re-imagining the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. After making their first shop public in January, Amazon Go announced that it will be looking to open as many as six new stores in 2018. Additionally, in the UK, The Co-Op announced that it will be launching an app that will enable customers to scan products as they shop, and have a ‘frictionless' customer experience without having to go through the check-out aisle. As customers place increasing emphasis on the ease of the shopping experience and prompt service delivery, these innovations will continue to gain momentum.
Simultaneously, retailers are having to deal with a rise in in-store theft in recent years. In 2017, retail crime increased by 15 percent, with the amount spent on retail crime prevention reaching a record high of £700 million, according to this year's British Retail Crime Survey. Changing the in-store customer experience often encourages retailers to reduce the staff on the ground, which may pose a higher risk of retail crime. To facilitate the move towards a favourable customer experience whilst addressing the increase in store theft, retailers need to re-evaluate their approach towards retail crime prevention.
Amazon has taken a high-tech approach, investing in face recognition and motion sensors within its new stores, using the same technology as self-driven cars. This includes Laser Illuminating Detection and Ranging devices, which use laser beams to decipher changes in movement and surroundings. They are also using high powered cameras, which, much like the human eye, provide overlapping images and can detect the depth of the field, peripheral movement and the dimensions of objects. However, despite high-tech investment, it is possible for individuals to thwart this technology – sometimes by simply wearing a cap over their face!
Data from RFID tags can be used for both real-time and historical reporting, allowing retailers to track which products have been picked up and moved around most. These are often vulnerable to being stolen. Using this in-store Wi-Fi network, customer journey patterns can also be used to design a store plan which would place the most vulnerable items in the most secure location. This could be under the watchful eye of the store manager, perhaps, or right at the back of the store.
Data-driven security measures can prove to be a robust and cost-effective approach towards in-store crime prevention. With the reduced reliance on ground staff, including security personnel, theft prevention has to be re-imagined as an intrinsic part of the store structure and the customer journey. Tracing shopping patterns, analysing the collected data and mapping out store plans may be the answer retailers are looking for.
Contributed by Matt Sebek, vice president of digital at World Wide Technology
*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media UK or Haymarket Media.