Improving customer experience and security in grocery retail stores


Upgrading security and staff safety in stores

This independent grocery retailer based in Scotland operates around 200 stores with nearly 4,000 associates. It operates a largely convenience format, with stores located in and around built up areas with  an ‘early til’ late’ principle. 

The problem

Like many retailers the challenge to mitigate risk of threats or violence to colleagues or customers and theft of stock is a continuous challenge especially given the locations and late operating hours. This problem is unfortunately a daily occurrence, and regularly making the headlines with estimations that theft is costing the retail sector approximately £1 billion a year.

A newly refurbished store in the centre of Edinburgh moved the spirits section from behind a staffed kiosk to being fully accessible to customers, housed at the rear of the store.

Since the move to this free flow model the store has experienced both an increased level of sales but also a spike in thefts; some from organised groups but also from opportunists.

Usual high risk measures such as CCTV continued to offer a deterrent but didn’t provide them with the live detection that was needed, and thefts continued which was not only detrimental to the overall stock result and profitability of the store but more significantly it was having an adverse effect on the morale and well-being of the store team.

How VoCoVo helped

The chain had already deployed VoCoVo headsets into all stores, and by integrating with a 3rd party solution IMCO, we were able to create a solution for this issue.

IMCO provided ‘pushers’ that seamlessly promote stock to the front of the shelf, and also detect manipulation or successive product removal. This can trigger a local alarm from the device to warn the customer, but also send an alert detailing the exact product and location to the associate’s VoCoVo headsets.

This uses our OpenAPI system to accept notifications from the IMCO hardware, and transmit to the VoCoVo endpoints via our software portal.

The outcome

The benefits were felt instantly as shoplifters were deterred, but also the brand was able to identify 5 unknown criminal offenders within the first two weeks of operation. These offenders were previously unknown to local police, and could now be monitored effectively when entering the store.

Incidents of spirit thefts reduced to near-zero over a four week period, and the store estimates a stock saving of £330 a week, meaning £17,160 a year.

Snapshot of key findings

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£17,160 in stock saved every year – potentially over £3m saved across the estate.

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Repeat offenders identified and monitored.

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Staff feel happier and safer during shifts, and late at night.

‘The store team now feel that their hard work to make a profitable well-stocked store that offers an excellent customer experience is not disappearing as a result of the thefts.’

Retail Director

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