The landscape for loss prevention professionals is changing rapidly as the function becomes more integrated into retail operations. The continuing value and need for more data exists across all store functions and departments, and investments require an ability to share and analyze seamlessly. No longer is video analytics for LP only, just as other data analytics are no longer the sole domain of retail operations.
That was the resounding theme expressed by Blue Montez, American Apparel’s Director of Asset Protection, during our May Webinar, “Staying One Step Ahead: Adopting Advanced Technology While Optimizing Your LP Investment.” With LP better integrated into the retail business, data platforms have to not only address shrink concerns, but also support multiple purposes and stakeholders, allowing customization for users and the ability to select—in real time—what data is useful and of value.
Transitioning from Analog to IP
One of the biggest issues facing IP professionals is the transition from dated, LP-specific analog hardware to scalable, digital IP-based products that can serve the entire enterprise. In the webinar, Montez suggested forming a working partnership between LP, Information Technology, and Operations, and following a simple roadmap:
1. Assess and understand the needs of the complete business, and the data required to empower the best decision making
2. Develop a strategic focus by incorporating and combining the data platform needs of the entire enterprise
3. Collaborate early with IT to establish IT infrastructure parameters
4. Start with a small roll out, establish business metrics and fine tune needs around them
Like all business investments, changes in LP need to go through a cost-benefit analysis. During the webinar, Montez offered up hints on how to do more with less, starting with designing a plan that works for today and tomorrow, and one that can be easily expanded upon. Other hints included running IP over existing coaxial cable, leveraging existing CCTV equipment where possible, and where new camera investment has to be made, using high megapixel and wide-angle lenses to limit the number of new cameras needed.
The returns on new cameras can be significant by themselves. Montez provided an American Apparel example of using two 360-degree cameras—instead of eight traditional cameras—to cover an entire 3,500 square foot store, providing the same or better coverage at a portion of cost. The layout has become a de facto blueprint for new store design.
Of course, when talking ROI, numbers speak so much more loudly than words. Montez highlighted American Apparel’s reductions in the following areas:
- 40% lower investment, by integrating traffic management and loss prevention systems into one
- 16% lower shrinkage, by implementing the RetailNext LP solution
- 0.3% lower shrinkage for every 3-4% increase in conversion, boosting the benefit to the strategy of “greet every customer”
Growing in Strategic Importance
Fully integrated into leading retail businesses, the LP function plays an increasingly strategic role from protecting the brand online to providing an LP perspective on decisions supporting staffing and product merchandising. As the function continues its growth in importance, its needs for better data to empower better decisions will grow in lockstep. The key is to collaborate across functions and integrate into a platform that serves the multiple needs of the business.
If you missed the webinar, be sure to access it here.
If you’re attending NRF Loss Prevention Conference and Expo event this month in Ft. Lauderdale, please stop by the RetailNext booth, #827.