With security tech evolving at a breakneck pace, retailers who fail to keep up may find themselves vulnerable
There’s no denying that we live in uncertain times. As Blake Lewkowitz, Director of Marketing at Axon Enterprise put it, “In the midst of a global pandemic, worldwide political strife and widening economic inequality, there’s a greater need for security than there ever has been.” This is especially true for retail businesses in the United States, 87.7% of which saw an increase in overall risk, while 51.7% saw a significant increase in violence as of 2022. While some retailers have responded to this demand by increasing the number of security guards at their stores, that measure alone doesn’t go far enough when it comes to protecting assets, facilities and — most importantly — people.
On top of that, retail security is evolving rapidly, and client expectations are changing, too. To meet these modern demands while keeping employees and customers safe, retailers must frequently evaluate their security needs and incorporate the latest technology. Here are some ways security technology makes retail stores safer, as well as best practices for incorporating new tech-driven strategies.
Pillars of modern retail security
Traditionally, retail security has focused on the protection aspect of the job. According to Blake, while protection is still a core part of any strategy, “transparency and certainty” also play a role in the modern security model. Clients want security services that combine protection, risk management, de-escalation, transparency and efficiency, and those goals can’t be achieved with brute force alone.
This is why updated technology plays such an important role in retail security. Here are a few technological advances that offer advanced protection — and peace of mind — to retail staff and shoppers alike:
High-definition cameras: Modern body-worn cameras have features like low-light performance and reduced motion blur, so they’ll continue capturing footage in high-energy situations. It’s also a good idea to mount some cameras inside your retail locations to get a bird’s-eye view of day-to-day operations.
Non-lethal weapons: “Avoiding use of force is very critical, but it’s also really important that if you cannot avoid those kinds of situations to have a non-lethal de-escalation option,” Blake says. Axon had this philosophy in mind when creating the TASER two decades ago, and today’s energy weapon technology gives security officers more time and space to resolve conflicts with safer outcomes thanks to advances in accuracy and reliability.
Intuitive software: The right software can help tie all of your security efforts together. With it, you’ll have one platform on which to manage evidence, watch video playback, compare data and share with law enforcement as necessary. This minimizes the risk of making errors in the process while tensions are running high.
Retail security best practices
Tech alone can’t protect your assets and your staff, so it’s important to implement these best practices to ensure you’re doing all you can.
Security training is not a one-and-done event, and those who treat it that way will find themselves vulnerable. Any time you upgrade any facet of your security suite, training should follow to ensure that everyone is up-to-date on the new features and knows the protocol for de-escalation and incident management. Many of these courses can be done either online or in-person, with virtual reality bridging the gap for more immersive simulations. Regular refreshers every four to six months can help reinforce these learnings.
De-escalation refers to reducing the intensity of incidents before they become lethal, with energy weapons like the TASER ideally being the last step of this strategy. Aside from keeping employees and customers safe, de-escalation has the added benefit of helping retailers avoid bad press; as Blake put it, many businesses are “one bad headline away from going out of business.”
Without evidence, retail crime incidents often derail into a “he said/she said” argument in which law enforcement can’t be sure who is telling the truth. For true transparency, retailers should invest in body-worn or mounted cameras (ideally a combination of both). This may sound like a pricey proposal, but the initial cost might actually save money in the long term by reducing theft and insurance claims. As an added bonus, the mere presence of cameras can serve as a deterrent to would-be criminals.
Layered security technology
The best retail security plan is one that’s well-balanced. Using a combination of security staff, cameras and software gives retailers the best chance of avoiding incidents, whether that means an unruly customer verbally abusing a cashier or organized criminals looking for expensive products to steal.
If it’s been too long since you last evaluated your retail security needs, Axon can help. We work with security teams to modernize workflows using cutting-edge technology. With training modules, incident management tools and a smarter approach to de-escalation, Axon has everything you need to modernize retail security. Ready to learn more? Get in touch.
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