With the recent news headlines about store closures and the collapse of well-known chains, alongside clear adjustments in business strategy amongst established high street favorites, there is no denying that the UK retail industry is under huge pressure.

A recent report suggests growing issues are leading some retailers to increase risk-taking in the supply chain. But here, Steve Bumphrey, Traka UK Sales Director, looks at ways to help retailers embrace the storm, including paying attention to security, management processes and efficient customer focus.

Challenges plaguing retail industry

It’s been an awful year to date for UK retail if you believe the cacophony of negative headlines about the health of the UK economy and the confidence levels of the UK consumer.

The sector is facing huge challenges in dealing with the evolution in on-line and smart mobile retailing

The sector is undoubtedly facing huge challenges in dealing with the evolution in on-line and smart mobile retailing. Further concerns include an unwillingness of policymakers to address the changing retail environment and how business rates and general business taxation and regulation is making a difficult situation worse.

Supply Chain Risk Report

According to the latest Global Supply Chain Risk Report, published by Cranfield School of Management and Dan & Badstreet, those under pressure, are now facing increased exposure to risk if they are forced to cut costs in their supply chain.

The report cites data for the retail sector that shows increased levels of risk-taking since Q4 2018, with retailers reporting high levels of dependency on suppliers and indicating a propensity to off-shore to low-cost, high-risk countries where suppliers are more likely to be financially unstable.

In-Store technology revolution

The underlying evolution of technology taking hold of the retail industry and consequential changing consumer behavior is what is really forcing the industry to step up and act.

This is not only in the shift to online and smart mobile purchases, but also with the increased use of technology in store.

Self-scanning and checkouts

In a bid to enhance the physical shop experience, especially in supermarket outlets across the UK, retailers are increasingly giving customers autonomy with self-scanners and checkouts and need to be able to trust them to ensure an honest transaction.

And for the shoppers, this dependency on technology and not human interaction to complete a shop means scanners must be instantly available and ready for use.

Many different underlying competing challenges impact the retail industry


At the recent British Retail Consortium’s ‘Charting the Future’ conference, looking at retail crime and security, Dr Emmeline Taylor, a criminologist at the City University of London identified in self -service shops, several new types of ‘offenders’ such as so-called ‘compensators’ including the atypical ‘frustrated consumer’ who, “fully intended to pay but were unable to scan an item properly”, adding to the security challenge.

There are clearly many different underlying competing challenges impacting the retail industry. Arguably, the increase in technology and autonomous shopping, where less staff are present (or staff cuts planned) throws up more vulnerabilities, such as the opportunity for store theft.

Use of body cameras

Staff needs emerging technology such as body cameras to act as a deterrent to crime and keep employees safe

Furthermore, staff may need greater use of emerging technology such as body cameras to act as a deterrent to crime and help keep employees safe.

In essence, prevention is better than cure, and it’s certainly cheaper. Whether combating crime physically or online, or looking to find ways to counter the high street trends, working together, sharing information and taking a more holistic approach will help the development of a shared language between retailers.

Retail Banking

It is also here where common approaches can help to deliver on efficiencies, in time, resource and budget that can serve to operate right through the supply chain, and minimize, or even negate the need to take any risks. It can even serve to enhance the customer experience, increasing confidence in the shopping environment.

Of course, when discussing the high street, it is not just the department stores and chains that are feeling the impact. Well known banks are also having to redefine their priorities and role on the high street, with customers (especially younger generations) demanding a more efficient service than ever before.

Well known banks are also having to redefine their priorities and role on the high street

Asset protection

Leading the way is Nationwide, globally renowned building society, which prides itself on being one of the largest savings providers and mortgages provider in the UK, promoting itself as running purely for the benefit of its customers, or ‘members.’

Richard Newland, Director of Branch & Workplace Transformation at Nationwide said, “Even more than getting a good ‘deal’ from a building society, the quality of our welcome, or our renowned level of service, we make sure our members feel safe with us, enough to trust us with their greatest assets. We are doing everything we can to evolve our business and focus our efforts on providing the best and most secure services that people value.

Key management systems

Traka has supported Nationwide with the introduction of dedicated key management systems

So committed to its branch network, it has pledged to its 15 million members that every town and city with a Nationwide branch, will still have one for at least the next two years. A bold statement in today’s climate.

Traka has supported Nationwide with the introduction of dedicated key management systems, moving its branch network into a more digital system. Keys no longer need to leave site and the audit trail capability has helped to remove the manual paper recording, allowing status of keys to be established instantly, at any time.

Changes in retail market

This example, together with Traka’s portfolio of high street brands and globally renowned department stores that cannot be named for security reasons, demonstrates the need for retailers to embrace the need for change, both from a product offering and operational running perspective to achieve aspirations of resonating with customers.

They also prove the opportunities for success, in an unquestionable difficult market environment. If retailers can listen to customers and respond accordingly, taking into consideration staff safety and security, alongside an ability to respond quickly to personalized enquiries and expectations. This way, perhaps, the current environment can be seen as an opportunity to innovate and embrace technology to form the high street of the future.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Steve Bumphrey UK Sales Director, Traka

In case you missed it

How Does Audio Enhance Security System Performance?
How Does Audio Enhance Security System Performance?

Video is widely embraced as an essential element of physical security systems. However, surveillance footage is often recorded without sound, even though many cameras are capable of capturing audio as well as video. Beyond the capabilities of cameras, there is a range of other audio products on the market that can improve system performance and/or expand capabilities (e.g., gunshot detection.) We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How does audio enhance the performance of security and/or video systems? 

What Are The Mainstream Uses For Thermal Cameras?
What Are The Mainstream Uses For Thermal Cameras?

The high cost of thermal imaging cameras historically made their use more likely in specialized law enforcement and military applications. However, lower pricing of thermal imaging technologies has opened up a new and expanding market for thermal cameras in the mainstream. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the new opportunities for thermal cameras in mainstream physical security?

Identiv Unveils Cloud Access Control and Frictionless Mobile Solution
Identiv Unveils Cloud Access Control and Frictionless Mobile Solution

Even though ISC West 2020 was canceled, many of the product introductions planned for the trade show still happened. For example, physical security and secure identification company Identiv introduced the Hirsch Velocity Cirrus and MobilisID. Hirsch Velocity Cirrus is a cloud-based Access Control as a Service (ACaaS) solution. It is an optimal solution for both end-users and integrators, with lower upfront costs, reduced maintenance, enhanced portability, and the future-proof assurance of automatic security updates and feature sets. Smart mobile physical access control solution Identiv’s MobilisID is a smart mobile physical access control solution that uses Bluetooth and capacitive technologies to allow frictionless access to a controlled environment without the need to present a credential. We caught up with Jason Spielfogel, Identiv’s Director of Product Management, to discuss the new products and other topics. Q: How is Identiv positioned in the market as a whole? What philosophy drives your product offerings? What vertical markets do you target? Every customer needs every one of these components Spielfogel: Identiv provides a total solution. Our platforms provide access control hardware and software, video surveillance and analytics, door access readers, and ID credentials, both cards and mobile, for a variety of vertical markets: Federal government, state, local and education government agencies (SLED), healthcare, schools, banks/financial services, retail, airports and transportation, and infrastructure. Every customer needs every one of these components in every physical security deployment, and we ensure that all parts are working together at all times, even as technology continues to evolve. With that said, our philosophy is very customer-centric, and we position ourselves as a trusted partner. Our products and technology platform always strive to reflect and anticipate the environment our customers are facing, both in terms of technical requirements and functional capabilities. Q: How does the MobilisID system eliminate "friction?" Spielfogel: Identiv’s MobilisID eliminates the “friction” of access control by forgiving the user from presenting a physical credential to the reader. A simple wave of their hand over the MobilisID reader establishes a connection, and the reader reads their mobile device’s credential from the MobilisID app.  No badge or access card to read, and no contact with the reader, makes this a frictionless access control experience. Administrative friction is also eliminated because there is no physical credential to issue or withdraw; it’s all done via the MobilisID Manager. Q: Discuss the advantages of Bluetooth over competing technologies. Bluetooth offers a blend of reliability and specificity Spielfogel: There are two primary competing technologies: WiFi and Near Field Communication (NFC). The problem with WiFi is that it’s not location-specific. In other words, the WiFi router can’t tell which door the user is near. NFC has the opposite problem in that it’s impossible to get credential reads unless the phone is presented within an inch or two of the reader. Bluetooth offers a blend of reliability and specificity to create frictionless access. Q: "Touchless" has always been a big selling point. Doesn't the coronavirus improve the outlook for these systems even more? Spielfogel: The coronavirus certainly highlights the value of frictionless access. But the vast majority of access systems today use proximity which was already touchless. But for systems using touchpads or contact-based credentialing, certainly frictionless is offering some alternatives that would help keep employees and visitors safer in the current climate. Q: How else might the current pandemic change the security market forever (i.e., more teleworking?) Spielfogel: Permanent changes are not likely, but it does force security directors to rethink how their employees interact physically with systems for both physical and logical access. As a result, we might see accelerated adoption of some emerging technologies, such as greater use of mobile logical access solutions, as well as frictionless physical access control. We’ve already seen an uptick in our smart card reader and token line and our Thursby enterprise and personal mobility offering during the coronavirus pandemic. Q: There are a lot of cloud systems in the access control space. How is your Cirrus cloud product different? Velocity already has all those features Spielfogel: Cirrus is different from many others in that it’s built on one of the most mature, feature-rich, secure physical access solutions available today – Hirsch hardware and Velocity Software. While many competitors are scrambling to add features to their relatively new ACaaS platforms, Velocity already has all those features. While they are building up their encryption capabilities and cybersecurity testing, we’ve already been doing that for two decades. We certainly have some more development ahead of us for Cirrus, but most of it is just surfacing features we already have into the Cirrus interface. Q: How do you guide customers as their needs change? Spielfogel: Whether users want solutions that are on-prem, in the cloud, or anything in between, Identiv’s full architecture ensures that customers can adopt and migrate to new solutions as they see fit. No two customers are alike, so providing the flexibility to gradually update or change systems is a real differentiator. Our competitors either want customers to jump all at once to the cloud or push to keep everything on-prem/legacy. CSOs and CISOs live in a different world: They've got it all to deal with.  We're there with them across all of it, because that's the true reality.