LaRocca on Trends in Retail Surveillance

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Jul 15, 2013

Is there a camera layout formula that can be effective in any retail store to help protect it from shrinkage? Joe LaRocca [link no longer available], former National Retail Federation executive and founder of Retail Partners [link no longer available] says there is. We recently interviewed LaRocca on maximizing  the effectiveness of surveillance cameras with strategic camera placement and the two trends he sees in retail surveillance: remote monitoring and health and safety compliance.

Highlights 

  • One camera layout that works for almost every store
  • Retailers are increasingly relying on remote monitoring
  • Cameras for health and safety compliance are becoming more common

The Most Effective Camera Layout

In his experience, the most effective camera layout for retail stores is also one of the most basic, but having cameras in these three locations will provide evidence in most scenarios. 

“The standard camera layout is front door, back door, register and highly trafficked areas. And that's not going to change much for preventing amateur to professional [shoplifters]. Then you add cameras focusing on things that are targeted for theft.” he says.

High Traffic Areas

The most important cameras are those trained on high traffic areas. “Your most important product is typically in the busiest places so now you’re automatically in surveillance mode of that high demand product. Because the area heavily trafficked, it’s also most likely to capture anything from pickpockets to people needing assistance to potential theft issues.” Additionally high traffics areas are usually areas where people will pass through to get from one part of the store to another. 

Targeted Areas/Items

High traffic area cameras are supplemented by cameras that target specific high value items or targeted areas of the store. “For example, most box stores that have security cameras will have specific cameras that cover the jewelry section,” he said. These are the cameras relied on to provide evidence on method used to steal merchandise and the description of the suspect, and are most valuable when monitored in real time. LaRocca says many stores have these cameras integrate with RFID tags or alerts when people enter those zones.

Front/Back Doors

Cameras at the front doors should supplement the cameras in the store and be in a position to provide images of a person’s face as they are going and coming.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

“The way you deploy video surveillance at a company regardless of the size is important. You may put 100 cameras in a location but if they’re not targeted in the right place or if it’s not for the sole purpose of reducing shrink then you’re not going to see a reduction in property loss from a store,” he says. Additionally for maximum effectiveness against loss prevention, the cameras must be monitored. 

Retail Analytics and Business Intelligence

LaRoccca says retail analytics have been "extremely effective" for stores and that he sees its use growing rapidly because of the value it brings to businesses, outside of loss prevention. In the last two to five years, he says he has seen broader use and several successful large scale deployments using retail analytics. In fact, he says most big box stores use some form of retail analytics.

"Historically, video was the loss prevention department's responsibility. Now, they still may be responsible for installation, maintenance and management of the system, but now they're providing access to traditional security equipment to make real time business decisions," he said. And that doesn't just mean people counting.

"With some analytics you're actually getting adult vs. children, male vs female, what people are entering stores with your competitor's shopping bag. You can see how a floor plan looks after the layout changes from Spring to Summer. There's dwell times and conversion rates (the rate of people who come in the leave with an item). It's used when you need to make lighting decisions. Or even if the question is 'Why is the electricity bill so high,' you can look and see if someone is leaving the lights on. This is really valuable information."

"The loss prevention people who had to fight for every single camera and the DVR and the bandwidth, you'll now find those are fast-tracked through IT or finance department because it's providing data that everybody wants," he says. 

That noted, it is still not clear to us, how widely advanced retail analytics are being used in production. While we have talked to many retailers who have done pilots or small scale deployments, frequently they explain to us that they have chosen not to broadly expand due to cost and complexity.

More Remote Monitoring

The cost of security cameras was more of an issue 10-15 years ago, now its not a question of whether a store can buy cameras, but of if they can afford remote monitoring.  Most stores will have a DVR on site, but more are sending live video elsewhere because they have the bandwidth to transmit video.

“The technology is better today, the pipes are bigger and due to the recession, companies are looking for ways to reduce cost. When you have that overwatch capability, it doesn’t really matter where you are located. If I’m sitting in an office on the third floor broom closet or sitting in the corporate office the next state over, that knowledge of the store and the relationship with the people on the ground functions in much the same way in either case,” LaRocca says.

Health and Safety

Anticipating big payouts from slip and fall claims “leads people to do some incredible things,” LaRocca says. Cameras are increasingly going beyond physical being used for health and safety in retail environments

“Those cameras provide time and time again and its great evidence in court ... If you have one or two slip and fall claims a year, a camera system will pay for itself over and over again every year. The same is true with back rooms with ladder accidents: the cameras is capturing what really happens and that evidence is later used in court,” he said. 

They are also being used to verify that food and pharmaceuticals are being shipped and stored properly and to provide evidence of tampering.

Retail's Role in Preventing Domestic Attacks

Over the last decade, DHS has increasingly asked the retail sector to take up a role in preventing terrorism. I asked LaRocca if expecting retailers to use their systems to keep an eye out for terrorist/suspicious activity in addition to their loss prevention, is giving them an increasing responsibility in a role most are not adequately trained for.

"It's not too much to ask," LaRocca said. "Security is everyone's responsibility. The overarching message that DHS and other agencies have pushed out is 'See Something, Say Something' and be vigilant. I think retailers play an important part in that statement because retail employees one in four Americans ... If the stores can lend a hand and that video becomes helpful. In some cases they are under court order to provide the information and in many cases they are providing it because it's the right thing to do.” He noted that surveillance from retail stores was used in investigations of both 9/11 and The Boston Bombing. 

CCTV Won't Protect Retail Stores from Flash Mobs

"Regarding flash mobs, CCTV did not have the deterrent effect that most companies would hope for. When offenders get in 'mob mentality' they tend to see past any of the traditional security layers (cameras, gates, alarm systems, etc.) and commit crimes," LaRocca says. For these types of crimes CCTV's main benefit is to help identify offenders after the fact. 

"In Montgomery County, Maryland, law enforcement used the CCTV video on YouTube and by soliciting help from the community to identify the suspects involved, over a dozen offenders including many juveniles with no previous public record were identified and processed," LaRocca said. 

Comments (4) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London police, but this time the system was thwarted by technical problems and...
London Live Police Face Recognition Visited on Feb 13, 2020
London police have officially begun using live facial recognition in select areas of the UK capital, sparking significant controversy. IPVM...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
San Francisco Face Recognition Ban And Surveillance Regulation Details Examined on May 14, 2019
San Francisco passed the legislation 8-1 today. While the face recognition 'ban' has already received significant attention over the past few...
Verkada Wins $783,000 Memphis Deal on Apr 29, 2019
The US city, most famous in video surveillance for standardizing on Hikvision, has issued an RFQ for 962 Verkada cameras due Wednesday, May 1,...
Casino Security Consultant Carl Lindgren Interview on Mar 26, 2019
For more than 20 years, Carl Lindgren worked as a casino surveillance pro, while being active (and sometimes outspoken) on various online video...
IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses on Mar 22, 2019
A lengthy investigation into an IBM video surveillance project in the Philippines, raising concerns IBM helped local police conduct a bloody...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's reporting on Athena, calling it 'deplorable' and repeatedly criticizing IPVM's...
Hikvision Admits Sanctions Harming Its Financial Performance on Mar 27, 2020
While Hikvision initially downplayed being sanctioned for human rights abuses, the company is now admitting a significant impact in a new PRC...
New Axis M30 Cameras Tested on Mar 26, 2020
Axis has released a new generation of, for them, relatively low cost M30 series cameras, claiming to deliver "sharp video quality even in poor...
Coronavirus Shuts Down ADT Door Knockers on Mar 26, 2020
Coronavirus has another victim - this time, alarm giant ADT has stopped all door to door sales. Door knockers are a critical but controversial...
Access Control Course Spring 2020 - Save $50 Last Day on Mar 26, 2020
Register Now - Spring 2020 Access Control Course. Today, March 26th is the last day to save $50. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access...
Convergint Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 25, 2020
One of the world's largest security integrators, Convergint, has made a major move to handle the impact of coronavirus, with cuts across the...
VSaaS 101 on Mar 25, 2020
Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) is the common industry term for cloud video. But what does it mean? How does it all work? Inside this...
TVT / InVid Facial Recognition Tested on Mar 25, 2020
Facial recognition is frequently sold for thousands of dollars per channel but some China manufacturers are offering full facial recognition...
IPVM Launches On-Demand Courses on Mar 24, 2020
For nearly a decade, IPVM has been a leader in online live courses. Now, we have added on-demand versions for all courses. The same course...