Over the last few years the retail industry, the consumers of America and our nation have seen dramatic changes. Never before have we been faced with the challenges that we now face on a daily basis. The online and in-store worlds are colliding and driving retail comp sales and mall traffic to historic lows, beyond what we even experienced during the great recession in 2008 and 2009. This has put more pressure than ever on loss prevention professionals to reduce shrinkage. All the while driving retail publicly reported robbery rates up 33% since 2015 and publicly reported retail violent deaths up 12% over 2015. And for the first time ever, more customers and employees are being killed than criminal suspects.
Retail violent crime and violent deaths are escalating, and what’s even more dramatic and sad is the nation’s domestic terrorism threat and the world’s constant terror threat. From the Boston Bombers to San Bernardino to Orlando and New York City we’re seeing terrorism that is impacting every U.S. citizen like never before.
Couple all of this with the skyrocketing cyber-crime, identity theft, online extremist radicalization efforts, and online murders that every American and global citizen is exposed to, and what you have is the need to utilize and continue to develop the technology that safeguards our children, protects our consumers and employees, and that reverses these retail violence crime trends that are impacting everyone.
The technology I’m referring to is biometric security – facial recognition. Facial recognition has been around for quite some time, and the advances in the last few years have been dramatic. As most know, the federal government, law enforcement agencies around the world, and airports are utilizing face recognition to increase our safety and help prevent terrorism and crime.
In the retail world, we now have a few retailers that are using face recognition exclusively for shoplifting prevention and to prevent violent crime. The significant results of one user are highlighted in an article in the LPM Insider. As it relates to the acceptance of this technology as a tool to reduce shoplifting and violent crime, there was an article just this past May in Retail Wire where virtually every comment made by non-Loss Prevention executives was overwhelmingly supportive – something I doubt we would have seen even five years ago. But the nation, the consumers, and the retailers are in a different place now and store safeness has never before been such an imperative.
The retail industry and American consumers are changing more rapidly than ever before in history. The connected world is changing the very core of society, and we’re facing very complicated and difficult decisions about safety and privacy. I firmly believe that face recognition technology is on an inevitable path to retail adoption.
As consumers will ultimately decide the path, it’s up to our industry to once again lead the way and ensure that our application of this technology maximizes its results while protecting the consumers privacy through standards and self-governance.
Gus Downing is the Publisher and Editor of The D&D Daily.
Want to learn more about how face recognition is transforming retail? Watch Gus Downing moderate a panel of retail technology and law experts in this on-demand webinar.