We’ve all seen them when entering a retail store: the small displays placed at ceiling level at the store entrance that show security footage, letting all who enter know that they are being watched. But while screens designed for loss prevention can deter theft, unfortunately, they can also be insulting or set an inhospitable tone for patrons.
Through the use of digital signage, displays used for loss prevention can also be used to run content that creates brand loyalty and encourages sales lift through, promotions, digital merchandising and cross-selling.
In essence, one screen is used for multiple purposes. First, running dynamic and relevant content will serve traditional digital signage roles such as welcoming patrons and serving as advertising space. Interspersed with that content is live security footage designed to curb theft.
The technology could be a welcomed one for the retail industry. Total retail losses are approximately $37.4 billion annually, with shoplifting conservatively estimated to account for 30 to 40 percent of total retail shrink/losses, according to University of Florida and Hayes International surveys.
Often times, shoplifting and theft directly by or enabled by staff can be a bigger problem for retailers than shopper theft. Surveyed companies apprehended one in every 27.9 employees for theft, based on 1.85 million employees. On a per-case average, dishonest employees steal approximately 6.6 times the amount stolen by shoplifters ($851.44 vs. $128.71).
Fight crime with content
No good examples of multi-purpose displays for loss prevention yet exist, although several large retailers are investigating possible approaches. The potential that exists to use one system to support the goals of the other, as well as optimize staffing, store layout and merchandising, is yet to be realized.
But even before integration of the technology infrastructure, the content alone can provide an improvement.
Even a one-second message integrated into the loss prevention display could gain attention, (probably more than the security view alone), to welcome customers and enable the transition into shopping and buying mode. The message could be the store logo, brand tag line or short promotional ad. In addition to welcoming the customer and potentially delivering ad revenues, such messages could serve to complicate thieves' attempts to determine camera angles and unviewed areas of the store.
Content on digital signage displays can help achieve loss prevention goals, in particular with the inherent ability to daypart and schedule message presentation.
Before store opening, staff can be targeted with messages aimed at reducing internal theft. Content could aim to reinforce their awareness that security cameras and recording devices are used at check-out, in aisles and stockroom areas to reduce theft and to remind staff of actions that could follow detection.
Patrons could be reminded to be cautious with their purses or other valuables to prevent theft by other patrons. Or customers could be encouraged to report suspicious behavior or reminded that shoplifting increases the cost of goods. Digital signage displays in store areas of high shrinkage could remind patrons of what loss prevention staff are looking for, such as merchandise being hidden or not presented at checkout, prices being changed, packaging being damaged, etc.
Lyle Bunn is principal and strategy architect with Bunn Co. and is a regular contributor to Digital Signage Today.