Holiday Security: The Latest Tips, Tricks, and Tactics

Eric White, Tyco Retail Solutions/Johnson Controls
Eric White, Tyco Retail Solutions/Johnson Controls

Holiday time brings more than increased foot-traffic and sales peaks. It also carries a heightened sense of safety and security for store employees and customers.

It’s always a pleasure this time of year to visit with Eric White of Tyco Retail Solutions/Johnson Controls. Eric and his team support suppliers to advance their security and loss prevention efforts year-round. In our recent conversation, Eric offered insight on preparing for the holiday shopping season. He also gave new tips on upgrading your security technology, hiring third-party security firms, and deterring theft by getting inside the criminal mind.

Early and Organized Security Preparation

We asked Eric about the state of security around holiday shopping today. In his experience, he shares what retailers have come to expect and how they prepare.

“Retailers have really matured to the spot where, coming into the holiday season, they’ve evolved to a checklist,” Eric observes. “That checklist includes maintaining their security systems: checking to make sure camera systems, merchandise protection systems, and alarms are working.”

The holidays come fast and furious for the stores. With so much preparation for increased foot traffic, Eric explains why security is essential and why it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

Start early to ensure security measures work and are in place.“The advice is to start early,” he continues. “Too often you see retailers get past Halloween and they’re scrambling trying to get alarm systems up and running. What’s on their mind is that flow of merchandise coming into the store at a higher volume. You’ll also potentially have higher value products coming into the store, like the hottest toy or electronic item for the holiday season. How are they going to validate what comes off the truck is actually what they paid for? Where are they going to keep the product? Who’s going to have access to it until it goes to the salesfloor? These are the things retailers are thinking about.”

Tech Tips to Deter Theft

Every time we visit with Eric, it’s interesting to hear what’s new and improved from a technology standpoint. Security technology continues to become more sophisticated. Eric explains how systems are preventing loss better than ever.

“Video has evolved to the point that grainy old security footage is a thing of the past,” he begins. “You can layer analytics and software onto video to tell you what’s supposed to be in the frame, what changes in the frame, and when things are not right. The technology also sends alerts to help retailers maintain the flow of product.

RFID is a great example of an inventory control system that allows item-level visibility. You really know where your product is from the time it hits your store all the way until the time it exits the store.”

Advice on Hiring Third-Party Security

More customers and merchandise means the need for more security. A wise investment for many retailers during holiday is out-sourcing security measures. In our conversation with Eric, he advised on what qualities to look for in selecting a third-party security firm.

“Black Friday has been a challenge for a number of years. Although the selling process has defused across more of the calendar, some retailers still face the rush,” Eric observes. “In those cases where you need extra security, the recommendation is not to do things the way you’ve always done it. You need a partner in security who understands how to cue people in lines that make sense. Keep the crowd calm. Use tactics like rain checks and line-busting and things to make sure the stress level of the crowd stays down.”

Just as technology continues to evolve, organized security has as well. Today’s third-party security guards are not working in silos. They’re part of a larger network that stays informed of suspicious activity before it makes it to your store.

There's a smart way to invest in third party security.“This new age of guards (you could call them ‘smart guards’) is really informed,” Eric explains. “They get intelligence that’s actionable ahead of time from a central command station. If there’s a crowd of people gathering for a protest or demonstration in proximity to where they’re at, they know about it immediately. They’re smart in terms of actionable intelligence. Stores can take care of their customers, but they need an expert in being able to take care of crowd management.”

Let the Criminal Know They’re Being Watched

Eric wraps up the conversation with practical advice about the criminal mind. The temptation is there to steal, but there’s always the fear of being caught. Retailers can play offense by using this to their advantage: keep the the criminal away by keeping them informed.

“Crime is deviant social behavior,” he says. “The way to modify that behavior is to impress upon the person thinking about committing a crime the certainty that they’ll be caught. It’s the single most valuable point in changing the psychology of criminal behavior.

“If they’re certain they’ll get caught, there’s a high degree of probability they’re not going to commit that act on your property. Broadcast those intervention strategies, whether it’s public view monitors, beacon lights, or RFID. However you transfer that knowledge to the potential criminal, that’s what really helps.”

To learn more about how Tyco Retail Solutions/Johnson Controls can support your security needs, click here to visit their website.