This shopping season, deter retail crimes with AI, voice-down solutions
In the previous article, we discussed the importance of retail security, especially during the shopping season. In this regard, artificial intelligence and AI-powered cameras can play an effective role. Voice-down solutions, meanwhile, can also serve as a viable crime deterrent.
Today, stores and offline retailers are faced with challenges from multiple fronts. With fiercer competition from their online rivals, offline retailers need to provide a better shopping experience to lure customers. Further, theft and losses continue to be serious issues for retail stores. According to the 2023 Retail Security Survey by the National Retail Federation, the average shrink rate in 2022 increased to 1.6 percent, up from 1.4 percent in 2021; when taken as a percentage of total retail sales in 2022, that shrink represents US$112.1 billion in losses, up from $93.9 billion in 2021.
AI comes in handy
To address these challenges, more and more retailers turn to AI-powered video surveillance, which can help them deter crimes, minimize disputes and improve the customer experience.
“Today, most major retailers are using AI in some shape or form,” said Jamie Barnfield, senior sales director at IDIS Europe, in an earlier interview with asmag.com. “The most popular tools include people counting, heat maps, occupancy monitoring and queue management which can boost profitability. In countries without strict privacy laws, others are using facial recognition to identify known thieves and troublemakers while many retailers are also aiming to automate age verification for tobacco and alcohol albeit somewhat unsuccessfully. Yet it’s a technology that is helping to tackle the growing rise in aggression against retail staff, particularly in the West, since staff requests for proof of age can quickly escalate into verbal and violent assaults.”
On a related note, automated parking, which provides a smoother and more frictionless parking experience, is more and more adopted by malls and department stores. In this regard, license plate recognition, a lot of which is AI-based, can play a role as well.
“Automated parking is set to be a major trend with the ability to integrate into payment systems and direct drivers to free spaces as well as locate their cars. Not only will it make parking more convenient and improve visitor experiences in applications such as shopping malls, it ensures more secure parking thanks to more cameras, and operational efficiency for parking operators without the risk of non-payment and lost revenue,” Barnfield said.
The power of AI cameras
Indeed, AI can be extremely useful for retailers. That said, AI cameras, which process video at the edge instead of on the backend server, can provide even more benefits.
“AI cameras use artificial intelligence to make sense of the videos being recorded. They can be programmed to detect certain types of objects or human activity, movement, removal of objects, read license plates, or even recognize faces. AI-enabled security cameras can boost the effectiveness of remote video monitoring or surveillance. Security operators monitoring the feeds can get real-time alerts when the camera detects any of the anomalies the AI program is trained for thereby allowing security teams to act before a crime is committed. Advanced AI-enabled security cameras have deep learning capabilities and can become progressively good at recognizing patterns and detecting anomalies in the video being recorded,” said Tyson Johns, SVP of Security Monitoring at Interface Systems.
Needless to say, AI cameras may be pricier than typical security cameras. But according to Johns, the benefits that AI cameras bring may be worth the money in the end.
“These cameras can help security teams keep a watchful eye on product shelves, track the movement of products across camera zones throughout the store, and detect known perpetrators walking into the store. When integrated with point-of-sale (POS) systems, they further enhance tracking capabilities, flagging unscanned items at manned checkout counters or self-checkout stations for investigation,” Johns said. “While AI security cameras tend to be more expensive than traditional cameras due to their advanced features and capabilities, many retailers find the added benefits and improved productivity justify the investment.”
When AI cameras are integrated with pre-recorded voice-down messages, they can do a better job deterring criminals from committing retail crimes. These voice-down announcements can include messages such as “Attention, loitering is strictly prohibited in this area” or “This store is equipped with advanced surveillance systems.”
“Intelligent voice-down systems are designed to automatically detect and discourage loitering and other suspicious activity in the perimeter of a store. By utilizing modern AI-enabled cameras combined with customizable audio messages, auxiliary lighting, and sirens, voice-down systems detect people and vehicles loitering or acting suspiciously with 99.9 percent accuracy and warn them of security presence and possible law enforcement action,” Johns said.
Johns also cited his company’s voice-down solution to explain how it can help deter crimes. “Unlike solutions with a simple binary response, Interface’s autonomous voice-down solution utilizes multi-staged announcement progressions combined with additional visual and audible deterrents offering bespoke responses to suit varied contexts such as vandalism, loitering, dumpster diving, unwarranted drop-offs after business hours, and more. In particular, the system acts as a potent burglary deterrent by targeting persons and vehicles near doors and other points of entry after business hours,” he said.
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