In 2021, the average retail shrink rate— having fewer in-stock items than recorded inventory— was 1.4%. What seems like a low figure, amounts to more than $94.5 billion in losses. And while a range of factors contributes to the shrink rate, external thefts like shoplifting remain the number one cause. Paired with the nearly 350,000 burglaries that impact U.S. businesses each year, a security system isn’t just a good idea; it’s a business necessity.
Security cameras are the best way to stop theft and vandalism and track stock. They also add value beyond loss prevention. Many security systems now offer remote management and motion detection, giving you the ability to check in on your store anytime, quickly identify and respond to abnormal activity, and collect and retain needed evidence. That’s more than just peace of mind for financial reasons. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your employees and customers safe from nefarious intent, and the right security system will help you do that.
But not all security systems are created equal. Even those considered best in class may not be best for you or your specific business needs. Security systems come in hundreds of different types and configurations, each with its own pros and cons. Security systems range from those using small SD cards to full systems with dedicated localized storage of up to 20TB, and those that retain data for weeks or record over it after 24 hours. And some are customizable far beyond the industry standard, offering people counting, heat mapping, vandal-resistant housings, and enhanced flexibility, scalability, and warranties. Understanding the differences between systems will help you to make an informed decision about your security needs now and for the future.
Here’s what you should really be looking for when choosing your business security system
The National Retail Federation’s 2022 “State of National Retail Security and Organized Retail Crime” found that more than 60% of businesses are increasing their budgets for security technology and that more than 52% are increasing their budgets for security equipment. But those increases will amount to little more than waste if you don’t pick the right security system for your business.
Generally speaking, the first and most important step in selecting a security system is determining what you need for your business. Believe it or not, the answer is rarely quite as simple as “a camera that turns on and records motion during off-hours.” To truly get to the heart, or rather brain, of your security system needs, ask yourself these questions:
- How many cameras are needed for full security coverage of the premises? There is no one-size-fits-all security approach; even two businesses of the same size will have different needs. Also, there are many different cameras that can ensure you get that optimal view of your property. From Bullet to Dome cameras to Pan-Tilt-Zoom, motorized varifocal – you can cater your system to your business needs.
- Do I need security cameras indoors or outdoors? Not all security cameras can be used in both settings. Depending on your business, you can choose which configuration fits best. Understanding areas with the most traffic, activity or package deliveries can help dictate camera placement. But it is important to understand weather ratings for outdoor cameras to ensure they can withstand the elements.
- How important are my security system’s quality, flexibility, and reliability? Quality and reliability are extremely important to ensure the security system’s performance can deliver reliable evidence should an incident occur. But flexibility is equally important to ensure your system is best for your business needs.
- How important is scalability to my security needs? If you’re starting small with your security system but know that your needs will grow later, selecting a scalable security system is important. That means you can add services and equipment without rebuilding or repurchasing your entire system. There are Video Recorders that offer up to 32 channels, allowing you to add cameras if your business grows or you need additional coverage.
- How much can I afford, and do I really need as much as I think I do? Security systems can run from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. Budgeting properly can help you secure a scalable system now that you can budget to upgrade later if needed. But equally important, is a long-term investment as some products charge a monthly fee after purchase.
- What are my business’ loss prevention security needs? Think about blind spots in your store, departments, or aisles where you’ve experienced a significant amount of shrink and how often you’ve experienced shoplifting in general. Also, with Heat Mapping as a feature, you can be aware of high-traffic areas within your business to promote your demand stock and be aware of areas of the highest level of theft.
- What are my business’ safety needs? Consider the general safety of your employees and customers, whether crime rates are increasing in your area, and whether upgrades will be available for your security system should your safety needs change.
- What are my customer data needs? For example, you may want or need to know how many customers are coming and going, how many customers are in your store at one time, and which aisles or areas are most popular. Customer counting and thermal technologies above and beyond standard security features can help you gain deep insights into how customers interact with your business.
- How can my security system protect my business when I am not on the premise?
Having remote capabilities to connect with your security system is very important, such as a multi-camera monitor view but remote access through a mobile app. If you have to step away from your desk or business, you can get push notifications when a package is delivered, or someone has entered the premise to keep you aware of activity when you are away.
Don’t make these mistakes when selecting and setting up your security system
If selecting a security system seems like serious business, that’s because it is. And while it’s tempting to skip straight to the end and pick the cheapest security system on the internet or the one that will arrive the quickest, proper research and consideration can prevent you from selecting and installing a security system that won’t work for you. Before you hit “buy now,” consider these common mistakes many business owners make when committing to a security system.
Selecting cameras by price only
It’s important to do sufficient research before purchasing a system for your business to ensure you have selected the right one. Price can range from product category but also for differing reasons (i.e., material used, quality of product, features offered, monetary structure after purchase). When you select a camera by price only, you are giving up the ability to choose the premium features, weather ratings, remote management and data storage capabilities. Consider companies that offer a range of products from entry-level security to robust professional-grade surveillance systems. Look for cameras that feature durable all-metal housing to face the impact of a business setting. This extends the lifecycle of your product and offers the best value with top-quality business security-specific features. It is also better if they do not have additional fees.
Misjudging the scope of the system
Many small businesses purchase just one security camera to be placed near the cash register. While this positioning may prevent theft from the cash register, it won’t prevent shoplifting in aisle 5. Others purchase a system that limits how far cameras can be installed from the recording device. If your security system limits you to 500 feet, but aisle 5 is 1,000 feet away, your security system won’t stop shoplifters, no matter how many cameras you have. Selecting a security system that reaches every corner of your facility and considers problem areas is important.
Recurring and increasing costs
Many security system providers charge a monthly subscription fee on top of the equipment and installation fees. But not all have this requirement. Before signing a contract, understand the monthly costs, any clauses that could increase your fees, and whether you can cancel without penalties.
What’s the big idea?
Your security system is critical to your business’ safety and success. That makes choosing the right security system for your needs one of your most important business decisions. Honing in on what you really need and want from your security system and building it to meet your current needs and be scalable to your future needs will ensure that your security system doesn’t become a costly mistake but instead is your greatest and most powerful investment.
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