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Thu 27 Dec 2007 04:00 AM

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Inspect the potential

The prospect of using surveillance for marketing and loss prevention functions has never been so thrilling.

Retail crime is on the increase, particularly theft on the shop floor, according to the chief technical director of Securicorp; the UK-solutions provider about to open its first UAE office.

Bippon Kalia says there has been an absence of studies on internal theft in the supply chain in the region, however the company hopes to raise awareness with security managers and retailers via high profile advertising campaigns, conferences, workshops and training sessions.

Current evidence in the Middle East suggests retail crime is on the increase, with theft from the shop floor recognised as the primary form.

Securicorp aims to open its office in the UAE, in or close to Dubai, at the beginning of 2008, alongside its website, as well as reveal new products and services.

"Primarily, hypermarkets, shopping malls and chain stores offer the best potential for business for us, and we offer best potential ROI for them.

"We were attracted to the Middle East as it presented a great opportunity to meet the challenges and demands of a fast growing security market that required the adoption of advanced technology and innovation."

The company helps retailers to crack down on retail crime by underlining the importance of monitoring the store's performance and its deployment of training and compliance of health and safety regulations.

With POS surveillance systems, stores can detect internal fraud, mistakes at the tills and provide evidence in the event of customer complaints or fraud. Rules can be set to alert the store manager via e-mail or SMS on events such as low transaction in high value stores, high value refunds, and high numbers of refunds.

"For larger organisations, a central command centre can allow access to video from all stores and aggregation of data from its chain of stores regardless of global location," Kalia explains.

Retailers can transform security infrastructure at a basic level by identifying security threats, reconsidering shop layouts, conducting background checks on staff in a bid to reduce internal shrinkage, installing CCTV, and advising staff that surveillance is also for their protection.

Swedish-based network video solutions provider Axis Communications now operates in 18 countries and cooperates with partners in 70 countries. The company recently announced it had delivered one million network cameras since its launch 11 years ago.

In the first half of 2007, it increased sales in the video product segment by more than 40%, supported by its SEK 158 million (US $25.1 million) investment and 160-strong team effort in research and development last year. Intelligent video is the IT giant's latest focus, offering the possibility to recognise unexpected events or movement.

"The huge interest in network video products and out position as the technical and market leader have greatly contributed to the development of the company over the last few years," says Gilles Ortega, country manager, Axis Communications, MENA.

"The proliferation of small businesses has sped up the need for optimal security," says Mohammad Hoda, regional manager for Linksys Middle East and Africa.

The company recently launched its PVC2300 camera, sporting a compact form and an IR Cut Filter to be used with an infrared lamp for video capture in total darkness. Hoda reveals it will boost its retail portfolio in early 2008 with a new wireless IP camera.

Network video systems provide a new level of pro-active monitoring, according to Johan Akesson, director business development - retail, at Axis Communications, capable of boosting sales, optimising store layouts, boosting productivity, and counting people.

"Dwell time analysis could bolster merchandising success, while traffic flow analysis permits greater understanding of routes and customer behaviour.

"Elements of store operations including out-of-stock alerts, end cap analysis, customer service, queue management and staff allocation can be controlled with network video," he adds.

Expert focus

David Gorman worked for 21 years with Wal-Mart, serving as vice president of loss prevention, risk control and quality assurance. He tells RNME that studies have shown more than 20% of cameras are not monitored and urges retailers to "take what you have and make it better."

Gorman believes biometrics - identifying people based on physical or behaviour characteristics - is an important move for access control. However, basic steps such as ‘aggressive hospitality' are also effective. "You can train your associates to approach customers in their areas and offer assistance, to unsettle would-be thieves, while false security calls also work well," he explains.

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