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retail security

Survey: Small retailers feeling insecure

Video surveillance and other solutions would allay fears, they say
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04/14/2014

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Small retailers aren’t feeling too physically secure these days.

Intel invests $15m in Prism SkyLabs

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prism Skylabs, a two-year-old startup founded by Ron Palmeri and 3VR’s Steve Russell today announced a $15 million Series B funding round led by Intel Capital, Intel Corporations’ investment and M&A business. The round included investments from Presidio Ventures, Triangle Peak, Data Collective, Expa, and some existing investors, Russell told me.

Prism Skylab is a cloud service that transforms any video camera “into visual merchandising, auditing and business intelligence tool that can be accessed in real time from any device.”

“On the business side, it’s hard to overstate the value of having [an investor] like Intel for a company like Prism,” Russell said.

The funding round was announced today in San Diego at the 14th Annual Intel Capital Global Summit where Intel awarded a total of $65 million in funding to 16 companies.

“At this conference we are able to look at how Prism might integrate with next-gen mobile devices [as well as the possibilities, for example, of using] new techniques in a data center that will allow us to increase our performance over 100-fold.”  

“The core of our business is the R&D and product work we do, and we’ll continue to invest in that,” Russell said, but the bulk of the funds from this round will be used for sales and marketing.

Since its launch, Prism has “brought on a host of interesting first customers, the new challenge for the business is to continue to serve the large customers we’ve won already and to build out our sales and marketing team to expand [the customer base] even further.”

Prism SkyLabs has “well north of 50 customers” that include Fortune 500 companies and well-known brands that fall into the category of “large distributed retail companies.”

“We solve one or two important problems for them,” Russell said. “We provide a set of data and instruments in the real world that heretofore you could only get for online properties. … The other value we provide is allowing global brands to peek in and better manage their stores,” he added.

“It’s the analytic and visual [capabilities] that are really the secret sauce,” he said.

Prism now has about 30 employees and Russell expects to double the size of the company within the next 12 months.

Prism raised $7.5 million in funding in October 2012.

“Intel Capital has long been known as a hands-on investor,” Russell said. Among the ways the investor will assist Prism include “providing networking and matchmaking [among] its truly vast portfolio [of partners].”

The Intel Summit “[has] been an incredibly productive and fun three days for us,” he said.

Tyco's Pernice on shrinking shrink

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In the spirit of the shopping season that is now upon us, I spoke today to Tyco Integrated Security’s Lee Pernice about trends in retail security. What's TycoIS's approach to shrinking shrink?

We talked about TycoIS's work on “shrink visibility.” TycoIS has been heavily involved with retail security for years, but it’s promoting a combination of existing technologies [RFID, EAS, video surveillance and POS systems] as a way for retail LP/security professionals to be less reactionary.

Inventory is a time-consuming process that major retailers do once or twice a year, Pernice said. By combining the four technologies above, however, LP can do inventory “more frequently and more accurately, about 20 to 30 times faster … what you would do in eight hours can be done in about 30 minutes,” she said. “And it’s much more accurate, down to the SKU [item] level versus the category level.”

Combining these systems can shed light on “what’s an LP problem and what’s an inventory-distortion problem,” she said. Typically when inventory goes missing, it’s labeled as shrink, even though it could be a receiving error or a vendor problem.

Integrating these systems also means sharing the cost among departments. Pernice notes that the cost of video surveillance, EAS tags [typically those plastic tags attached to clothing] and POS systems [point of sale] are in the LP/security budget, while RFID technology is typically paid for by logistics, or whomever is in charge of inventory.

“The benefit is this approach is trends analysis … you can look at shrink sorted by time, day, and season, you can compare patterns and adjust the LP program accordingly,” she said.

Integration of RFID with the other systems is driven by the benefits of this approach and the fact that RFID tags have come down a lot in price from a ball park of 30 or 40 cents a few years ago to about 10 cents per tag today.

That may sound like a lot of cash for tags, but when you consider that retailers lose more than $35 billion in shrink [shop lifting and employee theft] and about $100 billion because of out-of stock cost, ten cents a tag doesn’t sound so expensive.

So how much business is TycoIS doing integrating these systems for retailers? “We’re crossing that threshold from pilot to implementation,” Pernice said.

Large enterprise retailers and specialty retailers will be the early adopters, she said.
“It’s gaining traction fast in department stores with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of SKUs,” she said.

Importantly, TycoIS has spent a lot of time in the past couple of years developing a software platform with a common user interface and reporting systems “so at the store level … there’s less of a learning curve.”