It's Never Too Late to Innovate
For the critics who argue that there is nothing new under the sun in loss prevention, there is a contrary argument—it’s never too late to innovate.
by John Wilson, Executive Editor
True pioneering spirit in loss prevention requires dedication, research and development, collaboration with customers, and a leap of faith on both sides to help realise its potential for fighting losses, whether they be in store, at distribution-centre (DC) level, or online.
It is only through this two-way collaboration that ideas become reality, which is why it was inspiring to witness the 2018 “new kids on the block” showcasing their innovations in the Best Newcomers category at the 2018 Fraud Awards in Leicester on 4 October.
Four of the shortlisted companies, including the company crowned Best Newcomer and the highly commended runner up, agreed to be interviewed by LP Magazine Europe, and this is their story.
An “out of this world” technology that was first developed for the European Space Agency to detect holes in the ozone layer is now providing a down-to-earth solution in the worlds of security and loss prevention. Thruvision, a leading provider of products and solutions that detect items concealed beneath a person’s clothing, was awarded Best Newcomer at the 2018 Fraud Awards.
The company was spun out of the prestigious UK Government’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratories some fourteen years ago, with in excess of $50 million having been spent on developing the Terahertz imaging technology that is described as the “virtual pat down” because there is no physical intervention. In addition to the ability of being able to identify concealed items from ten metres away, it also increases efficiencies because users do not have to stop and search targeted or random individuals in everyday scenarios, including at airports, underground transport systems, and in retail DCs at the end of work shifts.
The products of Thruvision, based near Oxford, UK, have generated sales all over the world and are being used to protect society against both foreign and domestic terrorists as well as helping to safeguard assets for organisations. It also works with UK Government agencies including the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC) and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI).
Thruvision’s advanced detection technology is used to detect explosives, weapons, narcotics, liquids, ceramics, plastics, metals, powders, and gels, and in the loss prevention world, it is also cutting internal fraud by up to 80 per cent by being able to screen individuals in under ten seconds. This is proving effective in-store and at DCs for major brands including Hermes, Sony, Next, JD Sports, and the Hut Group. With advanced people-screening equipment becoming accepted across the security sector, the company is now globally recognised as manufacturers of the best-in-class, stand-off detection systems. Its products are now operating on every continent and across diverse environmental conditions. Thruvision’s products are developed for the real-world operational conditions that are faced by its customers.
“We call it the virtual pat down as this best describes its effectiveness in the retail sector where we largely work at the DC level to check if stolen items are being concealed,” said Thruvision’s finance director Ian Lindsay. “It’s a passive solution for mass transit locations that represents a half-price Pro-vision—the large scanning equipment typically seen at airports—and it is a fraction of the price with an average return on investment of less than twenty weeks. We work with a number of clients, including transport organisations, and we have recently moved into loss prevention because of the obvious synergies in reducing shrink—here we are not looking at dangerous items, but ones that are stolen.”
Such is the worldwide demand for the technology that Thruvision is building its first new manufacturing facility outside the UK in Melbourne, Florida.
The word praesidio is an ancient Latin and Spanish verb that literally means “to protect” or “fortress.” In today’s parlance, however, Praesidio is a new, collaborative data-sharing platform from the National Business Crime Solution (NBCS) that is helping retailers to turn the tables on persistent, malicious, and potentially fraudulent claimants and high returners.
In turn, this has translated into success as Praesidio, launched in 2017, was shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category, and the NBCS was shortlisted in the Vendor of the Year category at the 2018 Fraud Awards. Praesidio was highly commended in the ‘Best Newcomer’ category and the NBCS was awarded winner of the ‘Vendor of the Year’ category. The product, which was designed and developed to protect online merchants against repeat offenders who would target multiple businesses without their knowledge, underwent a successful proof of concept with six major retailers that showed £3.3 million in potential fraudulent claims across their businesses over a three-month period that could be prevented by using the tool’s cross-collaboration and data-sharing capability.
By identifying patterns of fraudulent-claim behaviour, Praesidio has now gained such momentum that other industry bodies, including insurance companies and Police partnerships, want to come on board to help their fight against fraud. Praesidio is a multifaceted solution that assists companies in eradicating abuse in conjunction with their loss prevention strategies. It is built to support businesses in combating fraudulent behaviour and, in turn, to surprise the fraudsters.
Built upon proven test methods by qualified personnel who understand the concept and have a highly responsive appetite from online business, the intelligence gathering uses a pattern-matching sequence that will send out confirmation of the link analysis via dashboards and reporting. The NBCS will also add further intelligence gained on any individuals from their collaborative activity data.
Praesidio proved from one test alone that it has further enriched information from other collaborative stakeholders, including the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) in its fight against perpetrators. NBCS argues that there is no other tool on the market that forensically looks at collaborative claims data with businesses to give such a commanding return on cross matching. All other solutions, NBCS argues, work in silo with their own individual data.
Praesidio will join together all the pieces that cannot be seen and give businesses the ability to make a powerful business decision based on the outcome. By using three key indicators that are GDPR compliant, it is highlighting not only fraudsters but also where genuine customers may be being penalised for fraud, theft, and non-compliance. This will also help online businesses with added information for commercial negotiations with their delivery companies.
Alison Parkinson of NBCS said, “This is a powerful tool that leverages the data of retailers to highlight suspicious claim behaviours and is the only tool on the market that drives a collaborative agenda. Businesses, working together with a solution such as Praesidio, are simply better placed to uncover malicious behaviour.”
Just when you thought that electronic article surveillance (EAS) had gone as far as it could go, someone goes and pulls a new tag out of the bag—and in the case of All-Tag, two new reimaginings of the technology.
In fact, the Q-Tag and Q-Wrap have almost reinvented the concept of EAS to such a point that they have been hailed the “Swiss Army Knife” of tagging technology simply because the inventors have looked at every permutation of how shoplifters could defeat them and also ways in which non-malicious loss can be prevented in-store.
It is this attention to detail that saw both Q-Tag and Q-Wrap shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category, with Q-Tag winning the Most Innovative In-Store Solution category at the 2018 Fraud Awards.
All-Tag is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of EAS solutions working across AM, RF, and RFID technologies. It developed the two solutions for application in the apparel market in the case of Q-Tag and smaller pharmacy and beauty products for Q-Wrap. Demand for a Q-Wrap solution for larger products has forced All-Tag to re-engineer the production process to accommodate wraps of any size. Both technologies were launched at the Retail Risk Conference in London earlier this year and at the NRF Protect Show in the US.
Despite the crowded EAS market, the Q-Tag had attracted the attention of retailers, and the Fraud Awards judges, because they can incorporate RF, AM, and RFID technologies in single tags, and there is currently no commercially available detacher on the market that can mimic the unique magnet configuration to remove it from the merchandise. The Q-Tag lock can subsequently withstand 110 pounds of pull force. Another feature is the specially rounded pin that won’t damage any garment and is uniquely embedded within the tag out of harm’s way when not in use.
The 58Khz AM ferrite is cleverly split to allow its use in the very small tag, and the conical RF coil within the tag also increases the tag’s detection range and, as well as the “pin parking,” has an optional RFID “nesting” area. It also allows for retailers to custom print onto the tag whether it be logos, QR codes, security warnings, or marketing messages.
Q-Wrap, which is aimed at smaller beauty products but can provide custom wrap lengths available to fit any product, works by completely encasing the EAS label underneath a specially formulated clear wrap so that shoplifters simply can’t remove it. The only adhesive that touches the merchandise is light and removable, so neither the product nor the packaging is damaged. This patented method incorporates very strong adhesive to seal the wrap. The wrap is also clear, so the UPC code and other important information is still visible.
Tim Moore of All-Tag Europe said Q-Wrap is also a secret weapon in the general fight against shrink, including non-malicious loss. “It works well with cosmetics to prevent people simply opening a product because they can’t find a tester, which although not attempted theft is still a major wastage problem for retailers. Also in the case of items like underwear, it wraps around the box, which means retailers no longer have to reduce the price of the product due to damaged packaging.”
Premier Security Products
Troubleshooting electronic article surveillance (EAS) specialists Premier Security Products (PSP) do not hang around when it comes to designing and developing a four-way hanging lock for a major UK retailer from research and development to roll out in just six weeks.
From retail research through to rapid prototyping to return on investment (ROI), PSP has introduced the opposite of “off-the-shelf” design and developed an on-shelf solution for one of the UK’s leading home improvement businesses.
The Aylesbury-based business’s incredible feat of delivering its Stoplock PH4 solution, designed to save Homebase between £3 and £5 million in stock loss over a twelve-month period with a two-week (ROI), enabled it to be shortlisted for the Best Newcomer category at the 2018 Fraud Awards.
In addition, PSP, which also manufactures a wide range of EAS products in the UK, has only recently started selling its innovative solutions directly to the retail sector after seventeen years of reaching the market through reseller channels. Its success is based upon the fact that the small team of specialists, who have more than sixty years’ combined experience in this retail technology, “walks the walk” and “talks the talk.”
“We have an approach of going to a typical store and walking the floor with the retailer to understand where the pain points are,” said PSP founder and director Paul Hulin. “We also want to make sure that the product looks right, does not interfere with the shopping experience, and at the same time, stops people simply helping themselves to expensive merchandise.
“For Homebase, we were able to initially design and 3D print a working prototype to ensure the four-way Stoplock fitted each hanger it was designed to protect. This was because we saw and listened to the specific problems before we went away and reverse engineered a solution that works with all of Homebase’s hanging shelving. This is already helping Homebase reduce losses on expensive tools and accessories because thieves simply can’t remove the merchandise without the assistance of store staff.”
“PSP had a complete understanding from our very first meeting of what we needed and took ownership of the project to allow me to focus on other matters whilst they undertook the process of making a new security product for us.” said Malcolm Beaton, the national loss prevention manager for Homebase. “From start to finish, not only did PSP take time to advise on how the process was ongoing, but also the finished product was exactly to the spec, and we are delighted with what they did for us.”