The 24th annual retail theft survey by Jack L. Hayes International reports that shoplifters and dishonest employees stole over $6 billion from 24 major US retailers in 2011. These 24 surveyed retailers also apprehended over one million shoplifters and dishonest employees and recovered more than $161 million from them. The infographic below takes a deeper dive into the statistics from this retail theft survey (click to view a larger version).
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24 Major US Retailers Apprehend over 1 Million Shoplifters and Employee Thieves in 2011 [Infographic]
Centralized Security Management – The Path to Integrated Business Intelligence for Business Owners of All Sizes
Centralized management of security solutions is not a new concept for large enterprise environments. Companies across all industries commonly invest in access control systems and traditional video surveillance solutions that can be remotely accessed and managed from a single location. But for most solutions in use today, there are limitations. For the big business owners, it’s integration. For small business owners, it’s cost. For both, it’s efficiency – as the time and resources required to manage multiple solutions can be prohibitive.
Fortunately, advances in technology have led to scalable, affordable, comprehensive security solutions that overcome these challenges. These new solutions integrate surveillance, access control, and other business systems to deliver a single interface to a company’s business intelligence. These solutions reduce costs, optimize resources, and increase profitability. And these solutions deliver centralized security management – a virtual requirement for a multi-site operation, or remote management of your business.
Centralized management is now simple and secure, and the benefits are endless.
BENEFIT 1: Centralize User Configuration and Administration
Business needs are constantly changing; from needing to add new stores and equipment, to adapting to changes in employment, adding new integration points or maintaining failed devices. One of the challenges associated with the ease of management of a multi-site application entails having to log onto a system one at a time for the configuration or administration of set up and modifications. With multi-site deployment, you have regular system maintenance, as well as the need to add equipment to new and existing stores. If you do not have centralized management software for the configuration, it makes the task much more difficult.
The deployment of a centralized multi-site application starts with the administration and configuration of systems and devices. The administration and configuration application handles the systems, devices and user permission management. Oftentimes, the administration and configuration application is treated as an afterthought for business owners, but in reality it is not a one-time activity.
Centralized multi-site management of administration and configuration affords business owners, operations, IT and loss prevention teams the capability to manage deployment more effectively and helps minimize costs and maximize efficiency.
Monticello Bank, a 12-branch community bank located in Kentucky is one example of a corporation that is benefitting from centralized multi-site management. They deployed a security solution with easy-to-use software that facilitated centralized multi-site management, which gave them the ability to easily monitor and manage users and video for all of their branches from a central location.
The software allowed Monticello Bank to set up and configure all of their new cameras and set user credentials and permissions for multiple locations for the entire system from a single central location. The software provided seamless integration with Monticello’s IT infrastructure, and simple configuration allowed for easy installation.
Since the deployment, they have not only streamlined and improved their surveillance capabilities and system management; they were able to reduce costs by leveraging existing network and server infrastructure, and eliminating outsourcing for security surveillance and system service.
Kelly Rader, IT Manager for Monticello Bank has noted that previously they had to rely on outsourcing their site surveillance, but with centralized multi-site management, they were able to leverage staff internally to maintain and monitor security, eliminating the need to outsource. She says, “We not only eliminated outsourcing, but greatly reduced the need for system service from the outside vendor. These two factors have accounted for major cost savings, not to mention reduced reliance on others.”
BENEFIT 2: Leverage the Power of the Cloud
The “Cloud” is often a big mystery or concern for people, but it provides regional, national or global operations the ability to manage and interact with their deployment in a much more efficient manner.
Many applications today are used in the cloud without people even thinking about it. Some of the most popular smart devices on the market are the iPhone and its portfolio family of iTouch and iPad devices. All the applications and software for these devices are managed from iTunes in the cloud. In addition to Apple, one of the most popular CRM packages on the market today is Salesforce.com, which also is completely managed from the cloud for businesses of all sizes.
The cloud has many benefits, but perhaps the most significant contribution is it provides business owners and their teams with a seamless tool to access, store, move and manage critical business data. Leveraging the cloud provides a powerful solution for security, with a secure, reliable and grow-as-you-go security platform.
The cloud also provides a time-saving benefit since with cloud hosting, needed updates for software, patches, fixes and other components happen automatically. Software manufacturers can address service patches and updates behind the scenes, so there is no interruption of day-to-day business operations. Feature enhancements come automatically to systems and users directly. If you have users across multiple locations, cloud-hosting makes it possible for updates for all sites to happen automatically, so you do not have an IT team or other resources in charge of making upgrades or updates for every person who will be touching the software. All needed changes for your multiple site locations happens routinely behind-the-scenes, so there’s less to manage. Cloud hosting frees up time and resources and helps cut costs.
BENEFIT 3: Consolidate Your Business Intelligence
Most businesses have data from third party devices such as point-of-sale systems, ATMs and time and attendance systems. Having access to the data is important, but without video and tools that help integrate and analyze the data, it’s not as useful or impactful as the data could be with the integration.
Trying to integrate data from multiple sources to gain true insight into business activities is difficult without the right kind of integration software. Not all systems are compatible for integration, which is why integration software is critical. Not only does integration software help business owners access transaction data and other types of information; it offers the additional support of video to provide a real view of what is happening, beyond what the transaction indicates. Video verification is very beneficial. For example, let’s say a business owner wants to review a questionable a POS transaction that took place on a particular day. Integration software provides the needed tools to search for the transaction provide the video support for the transaction. The supporting video may indicate that an employee was short ringing a sale or a theft was taking place during a transaction in question, which provides a truer picture of what was going on than data alone could have provided.
The ability to integrate existing third-party devices, software and transactional data with video is an extremely powerful component of centralized multi-site management. This provides business owners with powerful tools to gain real-time business insights through consolidated business intelligence. Through integration, business owners can access critical transactional data and video, set up notifications for various business activities and use analytics tools to react in real-time and make critical business decisions from a central location. In addition, data from all the sites can be forwarded to a centralized server to be sliced and diced into commonly used business intelligence tools to provide a mid to large enterprise with valuable trending information across all their sites. An example of this would be the ability to see conversion rates for a region or specific territory of stores. Other KPI’s (key performance indicators) may be exceptions, store traffic, service times or queuing averages, to allow more accurate performance metrics for business executives and managers to have a macro or micro view on their business as they see fit.
In addition to the integration of third party systems and devices, business owners can integrate video and set up notifications to alert them real-time of status or activities from their multiple locations, such as entry into restricted areas, fraudulent transactions or even temperature control variances. The notifications provide real-time intelligence of an operation, rather than having to find out about and issue after the fact and spend countless hours searching for the events. This gives business owners and managers the ability to monitor overall business activities from a central or remote location, allowing them to act quickly and take immediate action when and where needed. Through video integration and analytics, business owners can tackle important business challenges such as preventing inventory loss and deterring theft, reducing liability, improving operational efficiencies and enhancing customer service. With enhanced analytic capabilities and video verification for each POS transaction, retailers gain powerful tools for addressing and solving real business challenges.
The Limited, an established U.S. women’s fashion retailer with 220 stores and thousands of employees has benefitted from centralized multi-site management and POS data and video integration. The Limited had a problem with staffing, and before they switched to centralized multi-site management, they had to generate store information manually at each location. Counts and data were inaccurate and management was a challenge. After implementing software that enabled centralized, multi-site management, The Limited was able to get a more accurate traffic count in all 220 of their stores, maximize staffing and cut labor costs, improve customer service and conversion rates and increase profitability. For The Limited the power of integration was compounded with centralized multi-site management.
With more accurate counting capabilities, The Limited has seen counting accuracy improve at all 220 store locations, resulting in a 42% improvement over their previous thermal imaging system. Through improved business intelligence, including more timely and accurate traffic data and video verification, centralized multi-site management and maintaining proper staffing levels has become easier. The Limited has been able to fine tune their customer to staff ratio, which has helped minimize labor costs and maximize customer service. With more accurate traffic counts, The Limited has gained a better understanding of how well each store converts visitors to buyers, and has been able to compare data across multiple store locations, which has allowed them to make intelligent business decisions that have helped increase conversion and profits.
Roger Coville, Chief Information Officer at The Limited has said, “The traffic data comes back and is available immediately to our corporate office and to our stores. We aggregate the data with our sales information to provide conversion rates per store. We also integrate the data with point-of-sale data systems and generate conversion rates almost instantly. We have improved rates nationwide by a couple of percentage points—on that scale, two percent adds significantly to the bottom line.”
BENEFIT 4: Manage Everything, from Anywhere
The ability to monitor and manage multiple store locations remotely provides business owners and their teams with true freedom and flexibility. With software and applications that supports remote multi-site management, business owners and their teams have all of the management capabilities they are used to having on their desktop to manage business, minus the constraints of having to be tied to a designated location. With mobile applications, business owners can multi-task, juggle a busy schedule and receive systems notifications on their smartphones or tablet devices. They have everything they need to manage their business and sites in real-time, which makes multi-site management easier and much more efficient.
Mobile applications afford business owners and their teams, remote access to surveillance video, transactional data, analytics and notifications. They are able to look at business activities for each location from their smartphones or tablet devices, and have the ability to analyze the activity and take action whenever and wherever they are. They have the ability to be onsite at one location while simultaneously remaining connected to all other locations. Mobility is extremely beneficial for district managers and trainers who have supporting roles for multiple locations. With remote management capabilities, centralized multi-site management is a much easier and more convenient task to execute for business owners and their staff.
BENEFIT 5: Future-proof Your Business
The benefits of having centralized multi-site management are far-reaching. Software that enables an integrated centralized multi-site management provides business owners with a cost-effective business management system that is easy to implement, manage and maintain. With real-time business intelligence, analytics, remote notifications and centralized management, they can improve all areas of their businesses from operations, loss prevention and risk management; to marketing, merchandising and customer service. Utilizing a centralized multi-site management solution in your operation is extremely relevant and beneficial today, and will continue to grow in importance to your operation in the future—especially as budget constraints continue to tighten and business owners look for unique solutions to help them manage and optimize operations.
Don’t fall into the trap of short sighted thinking regarding your next asset purchase for your multi-site operation. A quality solution for your business enterprise should come at a competitive asset cost, while providing a continued grow-as-you go platform and operational efficiencies to reduce your overall operating expense.
~ Rich Mellott, President, DIGIOP