Guest Column | March 6, 2014

Are You Positive? Using Intelligent Video To Improve Retail Operations

Ali Mahmoud, product manager, March Networks

By Ali Mahmoud, product manager, March Networks

Why should retailers invest in video surveillance when they could use that money to hire another employee or run a customer promotion? Because a well-designed surveillance system can help them find costly inefficiencies, shrink and other problems in just minutes a day – increasing revenues and profits as a result.

One area where advanced video surveillance can provide almost immediate benefits is in helping to create a healthy work culture. A positive work environment can minimize problematic employee behaviors; everything from outright theft to poor customer service or frequent absenteeism.

While we all want to believe the best of everyone, studies have shown that a whopping 80% of employees will be tempted to slack off or even steal if given the right (make that the wrong!) circumstances.

Criminologist Donald R. Cressey developed the fraud triangle to describe what those circumstances are:

  • Motive or Pressure — Strong financial or other need driving a desire to have something
  • Rationalization — Employee being able to justify in his or her mind that it is ok to commit theft
  • Opportunity — A situation that enables the individual to resolve (act on) the motive

Minimize Opportunity
As a business owner or manager, opportunity is the factor that you can have the most control over. There are several things you can do to reduce situations that contribute to employee temptation. As studies have shown, people are much less likely to steal when they believe there’s a high probability they will be caught. For example, when you’re standing in your store, employees are attentive, they welcome customers warmly, the store is kept clean and tidy and no one indulges in “executive lunches.” Money and products don’t disappear from the till or from the storeroom.

But you can’t be there all the time. And that’s where video surveillance comes into play.

Invest 15 Minutes a Day
With video surveillance, you can continue to monitor your stores remotely – meaning you really can be in two places at one time. To do this effectively, however, you need a surveillance system that uses intelligence to extract relevant video you can work with.

The problem with many video surveillance solutions is that they are all about watching and searching through video. What you actually need is a video solution that can take 12 hours of recorded footage and boil it down to just the five events you’re truly interested in seeing.

If your video surveillance system can give you some easy-to-review reports, then you could – and probably would – take the 15 minutes a day needed to review operations at every store. Very quickly you could skim through a full day of store activity to make sure the store was clean, employees were present and working where they should be. You could then make sure you rewarded those managers and employees who were doing a good job, and also have a chat with that one employee who took five breaks throughout the day while customers waited for service.

Regular monitoring of intelligent video can pay big dividends for you and your employees:

  • You can identify — and therefore reward — exceptional employees. Employees who are being treated fairly will continue to excel, while others on the team will recognize that good performance is rewarded.
  • Employees will know that there’s a high probability they will be caught if they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
  • You may notice repeated mistakes that highlight the need for better or more specific training.

Together, these positive outcomes will add up to an excellent return for you: a well-run business, where your customers have a great experience, spend more in your stores and become repeat customers; and a tool you can use daily to improve loss prevention and customer service efforts.

For more ideas about how to prevent employee theft, check out Business Know-How’s article, Employee Theft: Identify and Prevent Fraud, Embezzlement, Pilfering, and Abuse.

Ali Mahmoud is a Product Manager with March Networks, a leading provider of intelligent IP video solutions used by some of the world’s largest retail organizations.