For most convenience store owners and managers, their first concern is employee safety, and their second is inventory control and shoplifting - also called “inventory shrinkage”. Whether the theft is from customers or employees, a retail business can be seriously crippled if they have their inventory sneaking out the door. Still, many store owners view a video surveillance system as an expense, so many do not properly invest in a system.
Video surveillance in retail applications is not an expense! Just the opposite: it’s profitable. If a store is experiencing a 4% inventory shrinkage and by installing cameras the theft is reduced to 2% or less, a convenience store selling $2,000,000 annually would save $40,000 a year. That is an excellent return, since a good camera system for a retail store may run $3,500-5,000. Most retail video surveillance systems actually pay for themselves in just a few months.
BASIC SYSTEM DESIGN
As the casino bosses say in Vegas: “Watch the money”! The best way to monitor your till's balance at the end of each shift is to assign a camera to each register location. The camera should have a fixed view lens and be mounted on the wall or ceiling, with a zoomed in view of the register area. The goal is to capture the till, the counter, the money changing hands and the customer's face. Watching the till is this camera's only job. Don’t make the mistake of trying to get the camera to see the surrounding isle or shopping area as well. That would require a wider field of view and will cause the detail that you need to be diminished to the point that the camera does not do either job well. This is the single biggest mistake customers make: trying to get one camera to do the job of two. Golden Rule, ”One camera, one job”.
Small vandal domes or mini domes work best for this application. Because this camera is specifically located to capture the interaction between the employee and the customers, many owners choose to have the cash register cameras equipped with audio. Video with audio can be a powerful management tool. It can clear up any confusion as to what was said between the customer and the employees, and can help monitor employee attitudes and verbal tones towards customers. Specific cameras are offered with built-in microphones.
Deterrence is the key to a good system design. Yes, the system should provide all the visual documentation needed after an incident, but most business owners would agree, it’s preferred to not have an incident at all. This is why so many retail stores greet us with a monitor displaying the video of our entry. This is called a “Spot Monitor” or "Public Display Monitor". Spot monitors remind the customer that they are being watched by surveillance.
Our Elite and CVI video recorders are equipped with a “Spot Monitor” software feature. This allows the user to select specific cameras and have them display on a public view monitor or monitors. We offer a word of advice with spot monitors. It is possible to display multiple cameras on the screen in a split view mode, however showing multiple cameras located throughout the retail space can give a potential shoplifter the ability to study the cameras viewing areas and select blind spots to perform shoplifting. We recommend only showing entry point cameras on public view monitors.
There is no wrong location for a camera but there are some locations that allow for the most coverage per camera. When choosing camera placement, try to eliminate blind spots. Use wide-angle lenses if the area you are covering is less than 20-30 feet. The 3K and 4K resolutions of our cameras will provide clear detail within this range, detailing products held in a customer’s hands and facial ID. Overlapping camera coverage is also beneficial, providing multiple points of view of the theft. Below is an example of recommended camera placement.
Monitoring gas pumps provides many benefits. Cameras can provide employees the ability to monitor customers at the pumps and limit accident liability. Properly positioned cameras can also document license plates and vandalism.
The design and location of the gas pumps can limit the location options for cameras. Many designs allow for the cameras to be mounted on the pumps metal canopies. Each lane should be covered with at least one camera. Because many states do not require front vehicle license plates, if possible, the camera should be located so that it captures the rear plates. If the cameras are located on a detached canopy, keep in mind that a cable from the cameras to the video recorder's location is required. If there is not a path for cabling from the canopy to the building, we strongly recommend that you do NOT resort to wireless cameras. There are many reasons why wireless is not the best choice. The environment, including the metal canopy can cause real performance problems. Reliability and overall quality is likely to suffer with wireless cameras.
If the cameras cannot be located on the canopy, consider mounting the pump cameras on the convenience store and using a zoom lens to focus in on the pump locations. This design can reduce installation difficulty and produce the same results as cameras mounted at the pumps. The cameras should be well built and meet IP66 or IP67 weather ratings.