July 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Bob Johns, associate editor
New CCTV technologies allow this supermarket chain to capture ROI on many fronts.
When a company grows to the size of Weis Markets, with over 160 locations and more than 18,000 employees, asset protection (AP) takes on an entirely new meaning. Just managing the various alarms and cameras deployed throughout the chain can be a challenge. This is where Michael Limauro, VP of AP for Weis Markets, found there were areas of opportunity for improvement. “Technology was being used in a reactive manner, which limited its impact and ultimately prevented us from achieving our maximum ROI,” Limauro said.
Limauro and his team needed the ability to better monitor cameras and their deployment throughout the company. In addition, they wanted to create a chainwide standard for CCTV integration. Limauro contacted two vendors to have them conduct trial installations at two stores each and then compared the results. The team was seeking a solution that would expand the functionality of the current camera systems and help them move to IP camera technology paired with digital NVRs (network video recorders). He eventually chose Vector Security for the new CCTV system and to implement a new alarm strategy.
IP Cameras Offer Unexpected Benefits
In the process of looking at the various systems, the AP team realized there was a wide range of benefits to going with the new IP camera system. “Not only were we looking for normal theft, but now we had better coverage and visibility into merchandising, traffic, customer service, safety, and even workforce management,” Limauro pointed out. With this in mind, the AP team was restructured to mirror the operations team, creating a people-and-partnership focus. The teams were able to work together to capitalize on all of the benefits the new technology offered.
In conjunction with Vector and the operations team, the AP team was able to decide on best deployment locations for the IP cameras that would have the most cross-benefits. For example, every pharmacy was outfitted with cameras, in addition to the perimeter entrances. Previously, deployment was strictly based on an “at risk” assessment. “Now we are seeing so many new applications for real-time video that we had to totally reconsider our deployment locations,” Limauro pointed out. With the relatively low cost per camera and the fact that these solutions can be cloud-based, the ROI was evident almost immediately. Never before have both the AP and the ops teams had real-time access to unlimited video to monitor situations. The merchandising team can see if and when displays were set up, if they were set according to plan, and if they were adequately stocked. Additionally, the team can see if shoppers are looking at the displays and making purchases from them.
On the safety side, dangerous situations can be spotted almost immediately. Were displays set up without adequate clearance? Is merchandise that falls to the floor being picked up in a timely manner? Are spills being cleaned up properly and warning signage displayed? Additionally, slip, trip, and fall claims can be verified instantaneously when a manager reports the incident. This helps when dealing with both lawsuits and the insurance carriers.
“Obviously, there are the true LP aspects of the video, especially when it comes to the clarity of video,” Limauro noted. He no longer has to stare at grainy footage that may or may not show an employee “sweethearting” merchandise or that shoplifter discreetly putting that item in her purse. “I can pull up the video right away and clearly see if the incidents are truly a case of theft or just an honest mistake,” he said. Being able to cost-effectively cover more of the store and show cross-operational benefits has made it easier for Weis Markets to expand this program to each store.
For More Information On Vector Security Go To www.vector.com