Guest Column | June 9, 2014

Selling The Value Of Video Surveillance In Retail: Are You Speaking Your Company's Language?

Ali Mahmoud, product manager, March Networks

By Ali Mahmoud, product manager, March Networks

Read Part 1 | Part 2

When budgets are tight, everyone in the organization needs to fight a little harder for a share of the company’s resources. In retail businesses, it’s even tougher for the loss prevention (LP) organization, which is often hard-pressed to justify the value of new technology investments to others in the company.

At a recent Focus on Retail conference, several LP executives talked about the importance of building internal support from other departments and executives for their video surveillance strategies. I could not agree more. When LP can ‘speak the language’ of their finance, IT, operations and executive teams they set themselves up for success. The key is to take the time to detail how intelligent video surveillance can help other departments meet their business objectives. Do that, and you likely won’t have to fight quite so hard to hang on to current budget or get new money to upgrade equipment.

Demonstrate ROI for Finance

A Finance team focuses on the organization’s total cost of ownership. Traditionally, that’s an area where LP often struggles to explain the tangible ROI of video surveillance. If you can walk Finance through the business case that demonstrates how investigating suspect point of sale (POS) transactions results in reduced dishonesty and improved per-location profit – which it does – that effort will lend significant weight to your budget requests.

Beyond preventing losses or protecting assets, there is also an untapped potential for operational efficiency with video surveillance, as long as you have the right tools. Without video evidence, managers may be relying on business systems that only deliver part of the story. For example, examining POS numbers won’t tell you when people walked away because lineups were too long or customer service was lacking.

Video surveillance reports can be accessed anywhere via browser-based client software. Instead of driving from one store to another and being maxed out at five stores, a regional manager can manage seven or eight locations because he or she can do a lot of that work remotely. Operational issues can be caught and fixed quickly. And managers can see right away when opportunities are lost because staff aren’t greeting customers or maximizing the value of each sale through upselling. 

The combination of reduced losses, increased operational efficiencies and optimized labor costs means that your investment in video surveillance pays for itself in no time — often in as little as a month. That’s an ROI the Finance team should have no trouble getting behind!

Lighten IT’s workload

As video surveillance solutions migrate from closed networks to IP-based systems, the impact on IT infrastructure increases (and every LP department knows that having IT on board can be critical). So you need to ensure that the video surveillance system you’re championing is IT-friendly and has minimal impact on IT resources as well as the corporate network.

Solutions with browser-based software clients are much easier — and therefore less resource consuming — to deploy and maintain. A single update at a server gives all users access to the new version as soon as they log in. No software is stored on local devices, so IT doesn’t have to worry about the myriad of operating systems and access devices. They don’t have to send out CDs and (worse still) oversee manual updates to those many different devices. Asking 1,000 retail outlet managers to update their devices is asking for a whole world of trouble. Browser-based software, with centralized configuration and management, eliminates all that.

Give Operations a helping hand

The labor force is the biggest item in a retail enterprise’s budget and that’s the focus of the Operations team. Video surveillance can have a huge impact on the day-to-day workload of the business' managers. It can also help the company make sure it has the right number of associates in the right places.

Video surveillance is like having a virtual secret shopper who provides eyes into the store throughout the day. Actual visits to a store provide good information, but they only tell the manager how things run when everyone is on their best behavior. What’s it like when they’re not there?

Some video surveillance solutions even provide automated reports that operations managers can scan in just minutes a day to quickly identify potential problems. Complete with snapshot images captured from surveillance cameras, managers can stay on top of operations such as:

  • Brand compliance — Is the company’s name and visual identity appropriately displayed?
  • Staffing levels — Are lineups within acceptable levels? Is there an opportunity to shift staff from one area to another to improve service levels?
  • Staff behavior — Are they representing the company well, greeting customers, offering additional products, taking those opportunities to upsell?
  • Health and safety — Are there any concerns that need to be dealt with? Obstacles around exit doors? Unsafe handling of food?

If video surveillance can help a manager audit through 80% of his/her checklist remotely, they will be able to do a much better job, cover a wider base and check in more frequently. This can result in significant savings for retailers and increase profits.

Managers can also rely on video surveillance to identify best practices. Studying the reports from store A, which earns twice the revenue of store B, might highlight ways in which the under-performing store can be improved. 

Show them the money

The Executive team is focused on creating a successful business. It wants to maximize revenues and profits. For them, video surveillance is a tool that helps the company’s managers succeed. A well-chosen video surveillance solution can help retailers:

  • Increase sales
  • Reduce overhead
  • Enhance customer service
  • Encourage repeat business
  • Mitigate risks
  • Ensure health and safety compliance

In a nutshell, video surveillance is a tool that helps senior executives achieve their prime objective, which is increased profitability.

Close the sale

An intelligent video surveillance solution can really deliver something for everyone. If you frame your sales pitch in terms that resonate with the different groups within your organization, I think you’ll find budget time a little easier.

Ali Mahmoud is the retail solutions product manager with March Networks, a leading provider of IP video surveillance solutions installed in some of the world’s largest retail organizations.