Overhead Video Helps Stop Shoplifting

stoplift_shopliftResellers can plug the proverbial “last hole in the front end management and security” with scan avoidance technology tied to overhead video cameras, according to Michael Smith, President, American Video & Alarm Inc.

“The biggest source of shrink is at the front end of the store,” he said. “You have ten lanes of potential thievery or laziness with merchandise going out the door and virtually no way to manage until now.

Smith has been selling StopLift Checkout Vision Systems’ Scan-It-All for four years throughout the Southeast and up the East Coast, including several Piggly Wiggly, AG and AWG franchises. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, his firm sells and services NVR, DVR, megapixel and IP cameras. He also services, moves, and adjusts cameras over the checkout aisle and the main door, installs paging intercom, music, fire and burglar systems.

“I’ve had managers and franchise owners tell me that they both love me and hate me, because they had to fire cashiers who have been employed for 8 to10 years, and were considered to be family and friends, who were caught stealing ‘only’ because of the StopLift system,” he said.

Supermarkets and retailers usually install “stealth mode” at first to see which employees are thieves, or just lazy, and who needs more training. Scan-It-All shows cashier speed, accuracy, and the number of incidents – malicious or not – for every cashier and/or manager operating the cash register.

“I believe an honest cashier who’s slow is much better than a dishonest person who’s fast,” Smith said. “A cashier who is slow can be trained. A dishonest person always seems to look for the next opportunity to ‘only’ benefit themselves at the expense of their co-workers and employers.

“Unfortunately, we live in an entitlement society, and many cashiers feel as though they’re not stealing when they don’t scan merchandise. But when they see themselves on the StopLift video, reality sets in, they know they are caught, and only then do they also realize or care that they are thieves. This technology can change the mindset of all the cashiers. If you have one cashier with a bad attitude, it will spread. But if they all have an honest attitude that is encouraged and enforced by Stoplift, that spreads, too.

“It’s hard to tell people to do better unless you can show them how they can do better, and the StopLift video does that, e.g. a cashier watching themselves answering a cell phone call while checking out a customer, or missing something in the bottom of the grocery cart, can really paint a mental picture of what they are doing wrong. On the other hand, positive re-enforcement can really help someone become a much better person, and employee,” he said.

Smith said that some of his customers reward fast, accurate checkout performance with desirable shifts and/or a monthly bonus, which will motivate cashiers to be honest and thorough by creating a friendly competitiveness among all the cashiers.

Self-checkout has been the source of far more scan avoidance among his customers. Malay Kundu, Founder and CEO of StopLift, says that he’s seen up to five times more theft in self-checkout than manned checkout.

“Some of my customers have been shocked by the amount of stealing they see in self-checkout on the StopLift video,” Smith said. “They’ve identified the customer, called the police, and had them prosecuted.

“I think self-checkouts are costing retailers more money than they’re saving because of the ease of theft in self-checkout,” he said.

Resellers reap multiple benefits from selling StopLift, according to Smith.

“This technology makes us resellers look good. It adds a lot to what we do. The owners and managers of the stores no longer need to spend hours looking over video trying to find out who is stealing what and when. They just go to StopLift and see the scan avoidance reports and video. This frees up time for the store managers to offer more customer support and hands-on relationship building with the most important item in the store — the customer,” he said.

“In the franchise community of Piggly Wiggly, AG and AWG, all store owners talk, I have not heard one negative word of how the Stoplift System Works, and the word is spreading,” Smith added.


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