Retail crime can have a devastating impact on a convenience retailer's business, yet some store owners still baulk at forking out for security measures.
Other retailers will go to extraordinary lengths to keep their property secure. In Sydney some Australian retailers are experimenting with blasting Barry Manilow tunes outside their stores to keep unruly teens from hanging around. If you are looking for something a little bit more robust than the showgirl-loving crooner, however, there are plenty of security initiatives on the market to help protect property, stock and staff.
What retailers really want is a security device that not only acts as a good deterrent against would-be criminals but a system that gives them enough proof to provide police with a good case for prosecution.
CCTV systems fit the bill perfectly, but many retailers may be using the wrong kind of equipment. Analogue recording systems are no longer deemed "effective" in pursuing criminal proceedings against offenders, following the publication of new police guidelines last year.
Matt Wheeler from Stanley Security Solutions says: "The guidelines were published over a year ago, but many companies seem to be unaware that there has been a change in requirements. Even among those that know there have been changes, there is a widespread confusion about what's required."
Under the latest requirements, CCTV users must ensure that their system is capable of storing at least 31 days worth of recorded footage in a secure environment. It must also be able to export both video and stills at original quality and the time and date should be accurately available for each picture.
Wheeler says this confusion could leave retailers exposed to failed prosecutions, thus adding more misery to the initial crime itself.
Yet as Dennis Judd, head of corporate relations with leading security specialists ADT, explains, CCTV is not simply about catching people in the act. It also works as an excellent deterrent.
"In some cases it may be better for cameras to be hidden, and with today's technology this can be done relatively easily. However, for the most part a retailer will want to let everyone coming in to the store know that it is protected," he explains.
"As well as prominent cameras, visible monitors on which people can see CCTV images of themselves are a great way of letting them know that the store and everything in it is being monitored. Signs letting people know that the store is protected by CCTV are another effective way of getting the message across."
Judd appreciates that cost is often seen as a major barrier to retailers, but he suggests that the cost of CCTV need not be that punitive as it doesn't take too much hardware to cover a small convenience store.
He says: "For a typical convenience store you wouldn't need much more than a monitor and two or three cameras. A standard package like this can start from about £2,000, while an intruder alarm system could cost as little as £1,500."

camera crew

Keeping the price of security equipment affordable for retailers is a priority for Axis Communications UK. The company has just launched its new Axis 212 PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) camera, which it says is ideal for areas up to 150sq m. The camera allows users to see the entire field of view on a single monitor. Specific areas of interest can then be selected with a single click of a mouse and then the camera instantly pans, tilts and zooms to the designated area.
Axis Communications managing director UK Steve Gorski argues: "The introduction of this camera means that we are addressing the need for highly reliable PTZ network cameras at an affordable price. I believe these features will make this camera highly effective in retail."
Of course, getting the right security system in place is not just about CCTV. One idea that is growing in popularity is security smoke systems. These work on the principle that an intruder can't steal what he can't see as a disorientating release of water- based smoke is released in a certain area, or throughout the store.
Security specialist firm Concept Smoke Screen has been developing these systems for more than 30 years and has a number of key convenience store clients, including some of the multiple convenience operators. The company has just unveiled two new additions to its range of smoke delivery systems.
The first of these, the Rapid Deploy, is said to be easy to install and can be moved to protect specific areas as needed.
The second new line, the Infinity, is one of the most efficient security smoke generators on the market, the company says, and produces smaller smoke particles that last longer than other water-based smoke.
However, it is not only the physical security of premises, stock and staff that retailers need to be concerned with these days. The advent of new technology such as Chip and PIN means that retailers need to be ever watchful regarding the potential for fraud and the need to safeguard customers' personal financial information.
The rapid growth in Chip and PIN transactions has also created the new criminal tactic of shoulder surfing, as people are forced to type their PIN in plain view of others waiting behind them in a queue. This can be an even greater risk for disabled or visually impaired customers who require a special cradle for the PIN Entry Device (PED).
Secure Access Solutions claims to have found a solution to the problem of shoulder surfing and making Chip and PIN more accessible.
Its new Viewsafe PED Cradle enhances the PED display while
also distorting it, to prevent criminally motivated bystanders from directly or indirectly observing a consumer's PIN.
Secure Access Solutions founder and managing director Neil Radford says: "The Viewsafe PED Cradle delivers that extra layer of security and improved accessibility in one simple, easy-to-use device." The system is effective against either the casual observer or the more organised fraudster."
What is clear is that criminals will continue to try an exploit all areas of a convenience retailer's business and it is up to retailers to show that they are not soft targets. According to ADT's Dennis Judd, shrinkage can represent between 2% and 3% of a retailer's business, so it is clearly worth weighing up this loss against the price of getting protected. That expensive piece of kit may not seem such a high price, after all.