David Fuller-Watts, CEO of Mallcomm, discusses the rising threat of organized retail crime (ORC) and the role of technology in ensuring retail organisations are better prepared.
Safety and security risks are growing rapidly across the US retail industry. According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) latest National Retail Security Survey, retail crime, violence and theft continue to impact the industry at unprecedented levels. Financial losses associated with theft are rising too. The survey highlights that ‘when taken as a percentage of total retail sales in 2022, shrink accounted for $112.1 billion in losses, up from $93.9 billion in 2021.
Retailers reported that organized retail crime (ORC) remains a significant concern due to heightened levels of violence. More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents said they were seeing even more violence and aggression from ORC perpetrators compared with a year ago. Mainly driven by organized crime rings, ORC is the large-scale theft of retail merchandise with the intent to sell items for financial gain. Coordinated and planned attacks have led to major smash-and-grab incidents and large-scale thefts at large national retailers as well as smaller businesses.
The volume of goods at shopping centers combined with their layouts, size and accessibility make them particularly vulnerable to ORC. Ensuring there are sufficient resources in place to try and tackle ORC is therefore essential and a top priority for a growing number of retailers.
This trend is reflected in the NRF survey which reveal 46% of respondents have increased their internal resources dedicated to anti-ORC efforts, and 44% have increased their use of technology, hardware and/or software applications to prevent, deter and investigate ORC.
Having strong security protocols in place can be a major deterrent, even for the most prepared criminal gangs. But too often, there are gaps in security processes which mean retail organizations, especially shopping center managers, are not sufficiently prepared to tackle ORC. Based on our experience of working with more than 700 shopping centers globally, the crucial gaps to fill include ineffective reporting, communication and data analysis.
Too often, manual reporting systems are in place, risking inefficiency and inaccuracy. Critical information, which must be distributed to numerous stakeholders, can take too long. The need for clear and instant communication is paramount in a crisis, yet many shopping centers have ineffective channels in place. Multiple platforms are often in use along with manual methods which hinder the flow and speed of crucial information relating to security incidents. Communication processes are also hampered by hard-to-find lists of key stakeholders.
Without accurate data, shopping centers are unable to analyze trends, vulnerabilities or other patterns which could improve their security strategies. Information relating to a large-scale theft such as response times, engagement with critical messages, and how quickly situations were resolved fails to be effectively documented.
Next level systems and protocols
Technology has a vital role to play in addressing these issues and the fight against ORC. Artificial intelligence, for example, is creating smarter, more effective security equipment, such as video surveillance systems, facial-recognition cameras, and license-plate readers to name just a few.
This AI-powered equipment can be integrated with digital technology to further strengthen security practices. At Mallcomm, we have been working with retail real estate organizations to help them tackle security issues using advanced digital technology.
By implementing the Mallcomm platform, critical information, communication and data, can be centralized for shopping center managers and their tenants, streamlining security processes.
As the need to identify and manage security threats intensifies, so does the need for technology adoption across the retail industry. As well as trialing AI-driven security systems, retail organizations must ramp up their security protocols. Adopting a bespoke Mallcomm platform will significantly improve reporting and communication, playing an essential role in deterring criminals as well as detecting, managing and analyzing incidents in the fight against ORC.
Time to act
As the need to identify and manage security threats intensifies, so does the need for technology adoption across the retail industry.
As well as trialing AI-driven security systems, retail organizations must ramp up their security protocols. Digital technology that improves reporting and communication processes, can play an essential role in deterring criminals as well as detecting, managing and analysing incidents in the fight against ORC.
Discover how the Mallcomm platforms cutting-edge technology can ensure that you are prepared for any eventuality by speaking to our team below