GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Meijer here plans to equip up to a dozen new stores next year with a front-end security system that integrates cashier-monitoring software with both live and recorded video.
The systems will record point-of-sale transaction data and front-end activity in all store checkout lanes, where color closed-circuit televisions will be installed to record around the clock.
Meijer declined to comment on its investments in the technology but a company source confirmed plans to install the system in 1997. The 10 to 12 stores Meijer plans to open next year are reportedly scheduled to receive the system.
The computer interface for front-end monitoring brings together both transaction data -- by replicating the register receipt -- and visual information recorded by cameras mounted above the checkout lane. The display format allows for viewing the different types of data simultaneously in multiple windows, according to a source familiar with the technology.
The software provides automation of the auditing process, noted another major retailer using the same system who spoke to SN on condition of anonymity. He said reviewing cashier exceptions, such as a high frequency of voids, is more expedient because the POS data can be quickly viewed on a computer along with the videotape of the transaction.
"We can scan through every transaction by cashier, and the ones that are in violation pop up in red. We hit the mouse and it now reproduces the register receipt. I glance through the receipt and determine whether there's a problem.
"If I understand this exception and know it's not a problem, I go on," he continued. "If it is a problem, I hit the mouse again and it immediately now rolls the videotape fast forward or reverse to that point in the transaction."
The retailer has the system, developed by Controlled Access, Moorestown, N.J., installed in about 25 stores.
Meijer, which is currently testing the system in one of its stores, will also install surveillance cameras in the new stores to videotape activity in the aisles.
Suspected shoplifters can be followed in the store and closely monitored through a technology that enables even fixed cameras to pan, tilt and zoom in on specific areas within the store. An operator can manipulate multiple cameras using touch-screen technology that effectively zooms in on an area by isolating it from the total view rather than changing the focal length of a mechanical camera.
Using surveillance cameras running continuously, Meijer will build a library of tapes that can later be reviewed and presented as evidence should a fraudulent slip-and-fall lawsuit be filed against the chain.