By Steve Sell, Director of Marketing, Retail, Tyco Integrated Security
As the retail landscape has evolved over the years, most dramatically in the last decade due to rapid technological development, the loss prevention (LP) industry has done well to innovate and keep pace by staying in touch with new technology and understanding customer demands. The introduction of mobile technology to the retail industry has motivated retailers to re-evaluate their approach to not only online experiences, but also to how they service customers shopping in-store. It’s no secret that mobile is the new component that needs to be tackled from every side of retail, and LP technologies are no exception.
Today’s retail industry demands new technologies like mobile point-of-sale (POS), checkout kiosks and ways to serve on-the-go customers who require more immediate attention and instant gratification. Because of this, loss prevention itself must become more mobile. The conversation among retailers and LP professionals is shifting to the need for greater visibility around the retail environment which is now, quite literally, a moving target. To accomplish this, the LP community now involves CIOs, marketing teams, store operations leads and other decision makers in a dialogue about how to address these challenges. This new collaborative dialogue helps retailers better utilize technology solution investments for maximum impact. An LP leader who is thinking more broadly about what problems traditional LP technology can solve, like drive higher sales or improve customer experiences, means that LP leader is thinking like a Chief Visibility Officer (CVO). While not an official title, the characteristics of this visionary role can lead a store in retail technology strategy.
In addition to using LP solutions to help reduce theft, retailers can analyze how mobile POS systems impact store traffic and improve the customer’s overall experience. Historically, loss prevention executives would buy technology like electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems and surveillance cameras as basically stand-alone tools. If a CVO works intimately with the vendors and integrators to pick complementary inter-operational solutions, however, they can receive a better overall picture into how these tools work together to offer broader visibility into the entire business of creating improved store performance.
Retailers have most recently been using video and CCTV systems with analytics to understand everything from when to refill a coffee pot to traffic counts and their conversion rates, all while using the solutions to secure their stores. Since EAS deactivation is becoming more mobile and less fixed around the POS appliances, retailers now need to take full advantage of the data captured in devices like EAS, video, mobile POS and RFID readers. They can evaluate the data holistically to elevate their enterprise visibility and adapt more rapidly to the needs of their customers. This increased visibility means a range of enhancements from improved merchandise availability to shorter wait times to more mobile empowered employees on the floor.
Those who embrace mobility and thinking like a CVO understand and benefit from the broader role LP can play in choosing and deploying cross-functional technology. There are some retailers who are not approaching technology as vigorously, but the evolving needs of their retail store are forcing that change. To keep a “moving target” in focus, the retailer must be ready to be mobile as well.