Using CCTV in a shop or other retail environment
Mention CCTV to anyone and one of the first places they think of it being used is in a shop. These days using CCTV in a shop or other retail environment is pretty much seen as standard practice. Whether a huge superstore with a dedicated security and surveillance department or a small family shop CCTV can help in many ways.
Theft from shops costs millions of pounds. The people carrying out the crime see it as an anonymous act. They don't think it affects anyone directly in the same way a burglary does but you and I know that is not the case. Theft can make or break a business, especially when it takes the form of repeated "petty" theft. If someone raids you and takes several thousand pounds worth of goods you may well be able to claim on your insurance providing you have met their security requirements. If they walk out with a single item you can't.
The other aspect to consider when planning a CCTV system in a shop or retail environment is staff protection. Often staff are handling cash or products which can easily be sold by criminals. Alcohol, cigarettes, jewellery, electronic goods, even mundane items like shaving razors can all be readily exchanged for cash and so violence against staff is a worrying trend. Not only do you risk losing a valuable member of staff for a period of time but there could be a claim that as a responsible employer you had a duty to provide adequate protection or deterrent measures. Does your current CCTV provision fulfil this role properly?
Staff misconduct or theft
Finally CCTV can provide protection against theft from within your company. The temptation can prove too great for some staff members. Even if it just a case of helping themselves to the odd sweet or 2. We had a customer who's sweet business within a shopping centre was losing stock to security staff at night. It's easy to laugh something like that off and the security staff probably thought nothing of taking the odd handful of pick and mix, but over a year that one loss source covered the cost of an entire CCTV system. We are happy to report installing CCTV solved the problem.
Obviously till positions need careful monitoring as well. Installing CCTV to cover theft by staff can lead to concerns form honest staff members who feel a lack of trust. It is important to point out that not only does CCTV catch criminals, it also exonerates the innocent. A till camera not only checks to see that a staff member isn't trying to skim off money, it also confirms that the correct change was given should a customer claim otherwise. It wasn't a £50 it was only a £20 !
What type of CCTV cameras
This will vary from location to location but generally cameras are required to film when customers or staff are present and the building is illuminated. If this is the case then it isn't necessary to use cameras with infra red illumination. Provided there is some background lighting our sensitive cameras will function well even in less well lit areas.
The internal dome cctv camera is a popular choice within retail venues. Often the areas have suspended ceilings allowing easy cable runs. As is always the case we are big fans of varifocal lens cameras which allow more flexibility and fine tuning during the installation process than fixed lens cameras for only a modest increase in cost. Our 2.8-11mm internal dome CCTV camera is the perfect solution for most indoor retail CCTV needs. It has the capability to film over 90 degrees field of view for wide angle general overviews whilst at the other end of the lens range it can zoom right in to capture higher levels of detail.
If you need to film in complete darkness then then our large open faced vandal dome camera and traditional covered vandal dome cameras are both available with the same 2.8-11mm lens.
Outdoor CCTV cameras
As well as filming within the building it may be wise to consider placing some cameras outside as well. Delivery yards to the rear of a building and rear doors to premises are both areas to consider covering. Our open faced vandal dome cameras provide good resistance to tampering whilst at the same time allow easy installation and come in a range of lens options. They also feature powerful built in infra red illumination which means they automatically switch in low light or complete darkness. There is even a range of small open faced vandal dome cameras suitable for fitting outside personnel of fire doors. It can also be useful to fit a couple of cameras to the front of your premises as well. This might capture a person before they enter the shop, it could capture or deter acts of vandalism by groups of individuals loitering and could help identify the perpetrators of drunken act of damage to your property.
Fitting cameras to the front of the retail unit might also help prove your innocence in cases of under age alcohol or cigarette sales. Police seize alcohol or cigarettes from youngsters. Ask where they got them from, kids say off you and police come round for a chat. If you can show that whilst outside your shop they got an adult to come and purchase the items you have done nothing wrong. It's easier than simply saying there is no footage of them making the purchase.
Where to position your CCTV cameras
Make sure that at some point everyone who comes into your shop is filmed in good detail. This means zooming in on an area where you know they are going to be. An entrance doorway is one such location. A till point is another, and this is an area which wants to be covered anyway. On multiple station till points it is always best to allocate 1 camera per position rather than try to stretch a camera beyond it's useful limit. You will also need to have to general wide angle cameras to track people as they move around the store. You already have them in high detail on another camera so it's fine to use some general purpose cameras.
There may also be some areas such as alcohol racks or retail displays which have to be covered to comply with licensing regulations. There are a number of useful short films in our CCTV Video tutorials section
Use CCTV as a deterrent
Let people know you have CCTV in operation and let them see themselves on TV. All our DVR recorders feature a call monitor output which is designed for a customer facing TV monitor. One someone knows they have been filmed in detail they will generally behave themselves for fear of being identified and prosecuted. In an ideal world CCTV prevents an incident rather than detects it, this is particular the case with assaults on staff. At the end of the day you can always replace a stolen product, the same can not be said for a badly injured or traumatised staff member working the tills.
Make sure your CCTV works and gives a good image
Your CCTV system may well have been cutting edge technology back in 1987 but if you can't actually make out anyone's features then it isn't much use. A local shopkeeper to us got stabbed recently and it hurt me because I had been telling him for months his CCTV wasn't up to the job. A couple of good, well placed cameras and a monitor may well have spared him. At the very worst they may have helped identify his attacker.
CCTV may well be seen as a necessary evil for shop keepers and retail traders but necessary it is. Even seemingly low risk businesses could benefit from having it. Another shop local to us had some cash stolen by a confidence trickster. As the owner recounted the story to me I pointed to their CCTV camera saying at least they had it on tape. The truth is I already knew it was a dummy camera as did the trickster. They knew where the villain was but couldn't prove a thing and had to write off the money.
You don't have to spend tens of thousands of pounds on CCTV to make it effective, but it will require a little bit of thought and planning on your part. It is also unlikely that a pre-packaged "cctv in a box" solution will do what you want it to.
Viewing your CCTV remotely over the internet
All our DVR recorders can be accessed remotely over the internet. This allows you to monitor your business even when you are not physically there. Some owners like to keep an eye on things just to see how things are going during operating hours, in other cases being able to verify an alarm trigger without having to visit the premises can save valuable time in summoning assistance from the police. We even offer a remote set up service which allows you to view your CCTV system over the internet.
What ever your reason for using CCTV in a shop or other retail environment we are here to help. Our advice is freely given and hopefully we can come up with a solution which delivers the results you are trying to achieve.