Among the various challenges that retailers face, shrink — a reduction in inventory due to shoplifting, employee theft, fraud or errors — continues to be at the top of the list. In 2017 alone, shrink cost retailers $46.8 billion, with shoplifting remaining the leading contributor for the fourth straight year.

Though it is impossible to prevent every occurrence of inventory loss, retailers must take action to reduce shrink. Despite extensive research done to determine how best to address the issue, many current solutions are still limited; methods such as solo surveillance cameras, radio-frequency identification (RFID) or increased interaction with shoppers provide some risk prevention, but fall short of effectively reducing shrink.

And in today’s economy, retail chains are concerned about more than just loss. Their success depends on excellent customer service, effective merchandising and maximizing both online and offline sales opportunities as the industry evolves. Now more than ever, it is paramount that retailers implement multifaceted solutions to improve both security efforts and business operations.

For many retailers, an integrated cloud-based video service can enable businesses to easily gather insights and turn that data into actions that enhance safety, improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue. An advanced technology solution that combines the power of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), integrated video cloud helps retailers combine video data, cloud technology and Internet of Things (IoT) integration for timely business intelligence from a single easy-to-use interface.

With an integrated cloud-based video service, retail businesses can predict and prevent incidents based on intelligent data analysis. Users can create custom alerts based on a specific set of potential triggers or vulnerabilities, allowing an immediate response and the ability to mitigate a situation before an incident occurs.

For example, the order in which customers are situated throughout a store at any given time can provide increased insight into the effectiveness of operations and the possibility of security threats. A video cloud service leverages heat maps to indicate dwell times, such as when an employee lingers in stock rooms, parking lots or other areas outside of normal business hours. This can then prompt a notification for possible theft or tampering, allowing managers to dispatch a swift response to the scene.

Additionally, heat maps can determine crowd levels and customer traffic patterns, delivering intelligence around which areas of the store are attracting the most interest. This data can be used to augment marketing efforts, as well as reduce shrink, such as in the event of extensive dwell times in aisles featuring high-priced merchandise, where an employee can be sent to monitor the area.

The cloud delivers centralized and cohesive security and business operations for an entire retail enterprise encompassing locations spread across numerous geographic regions. Managers have the ability to view multiple departments and geographic store locations on any Web-based or mobile device at any time with video data stored in the cloud. As a result, retail management can compare analytics across facilities and improve overall inventory management and merchandising.

Controlling shrink will likely always be a top priority for the retail industry, and organizations must adopt solutions that can both mitigate security risks and boost day-to-day operations. For retailers interested in learning more about Arcules’ Integrated Video Cloud service for retail, visit us at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon 2019 May 19-22, in Las Vegas. Stop by booth N916 or schedule a meeting with the team.