Trends in retail

November 2010 Integrated Solutions, Retail (Industry)

Gary Chalmers looks at the impact biometrics will have in the retail environment.

The retail sector has four main problems:

1) Get the right products for their customers.

2) Get the customers into the store to buy those products.

3) Reduce shrinkage and theft throughout the chain.

4) Manage the large, distributed workforce.

Luckily, the first two are not the problem of the security industry. But the last two are falling into the parameters of what we do every day.

Technology is always a key player when it comes to reducing any kind of theft, be it of goods or time. And the retail sector is slowly but surely turning towards emerging technologies to help it manage both these problems. Within the emerging technologies, biometrics is playing a key role in a number of different areas.

Firstly, many companies are investigating the possibility of using the HANIS database to verify the identity of the casual staff they hire. This has not proven to be highly productive at this time, due primarily to inconsistent data, poor management of the system, and above all, the difficulty of integrating with the actual Department of Home Affairs.

Therefore, private, or bureau-type AFIS services will begin emerging over the next two to five years as larger groups seek to avoid re-hiring staff who have been dismissed in other branches for theft. These bureaux will manage the complexity of the system, and the security of the data, while offering the chains the clearly focused and specialised services they need to manage this process.

It is my opinion that this will be the biggest new emerging trend in the retail market in the foreseeable future.

Automated T&A

In addition to this, biometrics will continue its inexorable path towards replacing the old style clocking machines throughout the retail sector. The simple eradication of the buddy-clocking problems that are rife with these older systems more than covers the cost of upgrading the technology, and very few retail chains do not already have plans in motion to go this route.

Automating time and attendance, along with the nirvana of real-time staff numbers in stores, are the key drivers here, with most retail chains relishing the thought of being able to centrally manage their payrolls with timely, accurate data allowing staff minimum leeway to abuse the system.

Not quite as common, but definitely on the rise, is the desire to replace old-fashioned card systems on the point of sale terminals with biometric logins and overrides. This logical access control will assist in removing the fraudulent refunds and overrides that are the cause of a significant amount of the retail sector’s shrinkage.

Finally, the ability to use biometrics to confirm exact times and people involved in the distribution element, where most shrinkage happens, is a key emerging solution that retail is embracing.

The common thread of non-repudiation of transactions, confirmation of identity and above all, the tying of specific people to specific places at specific times, are the underlying drivers for the adoption of these technologies in the sector.

For more information contact iPulse Systems, +27 (0)11 393 5216,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Convergence of cyber and physical security
Integrated Solutions Security Services & Risk Management
The overlap between cybersecurity and physical security will necessitate the integration of cyber and physical security in order to enable the sharing of events to the same security operations centre.

Success in business process best practices
Technews Publishing Kleyn Change Management Editor's Choice Integrated Solutions Security Services & Risk Management
This month we commandeer time with the woman who is spearheading our national conversation on Women in Security, Lesley-Anne Kleyn, to get to know the lady herself a little better.

Unlock seamless security with integrated products
Secutel Technologies Integrated Solutions Products
By combining SecuVue and Secutraq, Secutel has created a system that enables users to configure analytics, facial recognition, pose detection, and XFS among other security triggers modern service providers require.

Integrated guarding services
XtraVision Integrated Solutions Access Control & Identity Management Industrial (Industry)
XtraVision offers a few tips on how to go about planning and setting up an integrated approach to sustainable and successful security services, from the initial risk assessment to the technology and people required.

Paxton secures multi-tenant office in Cape Town
Paxton Integrated Solutions Access Control & Identity Management Products
Cecilia Square in Paarl, Cape Town is an office building from where several businesses operate. The multi-tenant site has recently undergone a full refurbishment, including a complete upgrade of its security system for access control.

Bi-directional integration of Gallagher and Qognify
Gallagher Integrated Solutions Products
In a world of converging technology ecosystems, siloed solutions are no longer viable; this applies in particular to physical security, where only combined information enables a comprehensive assessment of a situation and a timely response.

Qognify integrates with Johnson Controls Security Products
Integrated Solutions News Products
The integration of Qognify VMS and Kantech EntraPass enables users to better understand situations based on the synchronisation of event and video data, allowing a faster and more targeted response to event-based scenarios.

Complex, but critical partner in security
Technews Publishing Bidvest Protea Coin Editor's Choice Integrated Solutions IT infrastructure Mining (Industry)
Smart Security looks at how drones can be applied effectively in mine security operations. The ability to quickly gain a birds-eye view of a situation, whether security, safety or operational in nature, makes drones a significant value-add to mines.

Enhancing surveillance on mines
Avigilon Technews Publishing Axis Communications SA Forbatt SA Hikvision South Africa Bosch Building Technologies Editor's Choice CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Integrated Solutions Mining (Industry)
Smart Security approached a number of surveillance vendors to find out what the latest in surveillance technology is that can make a difference to security operations in mines, as well as general operations.

Surveillance to improve worker safety
Axis Communications SA Mining (Industry) CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Integrated Solutions
With substantial deposits of mineral resources, mining is critical for South Africa’s economic growth and prosperity; however, mining can be dangerous, especially for the people working on the ground and in the shafts.