In retail stores across the country you might see this sign:Surveillance Cameras

Consumers have gotten used to being watching in retail stores. It’s part of life. Stores need to protect themselves from theft and unwarranted law suits, so they watch their customers and employees. However, new advances in surveillance hardware and software are changing the surveillance landscape and businesses are taking an even closer look at shopper’s behavior.


The TV’s have had high-definition video for over a decade. YouTube streams it. Even the latest phones record video in HD. Why wouldn’t surveillance cameras?

HD cameras allow security officers to get a better picture of current and past situations. This can be helpful in many ways. It can:

  • Catch smaller and more subtle cases of shop-lifting or loss at the cash register
  • Identify suspects quickly and record a clearer database of suspicious characters
  • Create more credible evidence for court cases such as faces, license plates, or distinctive actions

Facial Recognition

With these high-quality images, some companies have created software to prevent loss and catch criminals. This software can recognize criminals using a stored database of faces. It promises to become so advanced that it can even alert companies of “suspicious” behavior. This detection method is already being used in casinos to find card counters and cheats.

This security technology is great, but the software also promises futuristic tools for marketers, affecting all customers. Imagine walking through a store and a camera catches your face. Software scans a database and identifies you as a frequent customer, who has spent a considerable amount of money.

This purchase history is sent to an employee’s smartphone along with your picture. She greets you with your name and asks how the last purchase is working out. All of this happens and you’ve never met this employee in your life.

Data Sharing

Another surveillance trend is occurring further away from the store in vast server farms. The “cloud,” tech’s latest buzz word, allows retail stores to share information on customers and suspects that they collect through facial recognition software, HD camera, and the rest of the information they get from your purchase history. Currently, retailers use LERPnet, a database of photos, video, and incident reports connected to shop-lifters.

While facial recognition technology and data sharing is mostly used in government organizations and the technology has bug issues, the promise of more data on customers appeals to both security and marketing professionals. With so much reward in retail, it’s hard to imagine the promises made by these technologies won’t be fulfilled in the near future.

What do you think? Will advances in retail surveillance contribute to the customer experience or are they just plain creepy?

Bio: Alex Roitman is an outreach manager at Friendly and personable, he cultivates relationships throughout the safety and security industries. Alex’s articles spotlight new industry trends for consumers and small businesses. He provides tips to give small businesses advice to keep customers and employees safe and secure.