A Bit About: Using Security to Drive Value in Retail

The area of security is evolving within the retail environment. Advanced security systems can now provide increased sales potential as well as top-of-the-line security.






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Hilary Kennedy: Hey there! Welcome to A Bit About, a Parabit Systems’ podcast. I am your host Hillary Kennedy, and today's episode is going to explore leveraging security systems to drive value in retail.


And giving a CEO’s perspective on this will be Rob Leiponis, the President and CEO of Parabit Systems, which is a leading global provider of innovative hardware and software solutions serving critical infrastructure. And since founding the Long Island-based company in 1995, Rob has driven the development of technology deployed by hundreds of financial institutions throughout North America and Europe.


And Rob draws on some tremendous experience, spanning 35 plus years collaborating with innovation labs of the top, tier-one financial institutions, as well as serving leading national, regional and community banks and credit unions. A very busy guy, thank you so much for joining me today, Rob.


Rob Leiponis: Thank you, Hilary. Good morning, everybody.


Hilary Kennedy: All right, so I want to just dive right in. First of all, I want to start with viable use cases where integrated technology has the potential to transcend perceived application limitations for broader value within an organization. So what are some ways that retail systems can improve customer experience and support modern targeted marketing opportunities?


Rob Leiponis: Sure, I mean, through the ability to do analytics and as well as demographic identification through surveillance systems, leveraging security systems to help retail organizations identify customers, identify patterns of purchases, traffic flows of people, are really powerful solutions and, you know, security departments typically tend to be a cost center where retail is a profit center.


So, we find that many of our customers are now leveraging the demand and the use cases that can be provided by security systems for the security department in order to fund the expansion of some of these cameras that are getting much better and much more acute imagery of people's faces and their patterns as they move around retail environments or airport environments, as well as public facilities.

Hilary Kennedy: Well, and as we've seen here, the pandemic, it escalated things in lots of ways, but it escalated a strong need for those mechanisms to control customer entrances, like you mentioned, of events or maybe at the airport, education, metal, retail, other types of facilities. So credentialing, it's really expanded beyond just identification. So can you share how security solutions are vital in these current times?


Rob Leiponis: Sure. I mean, facial analytics has just been an incredible resource for law enforcement and as well as retail operations to be able to identify, anticipating, you know, traffic flows of customers crime events, and it's been, a powerful solution in many sectors out there to just help customers or help our retail departments be able to plan better resources as well as perform analytics in terms of identifying their flow of traffic of customers to be able to leverage more targeted questions of, you know, consumers, like in a high-end retail environment where customers that come into the facility that as they walk in the cameras can identify them and through integration with back end systems, the actual retail staff can get notified of those people entering their facilities.

So that way, they can provide much higher levels of customer service, you know, in really high-end store environments like Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus or Macy's. You know, those types of environments would benefit greatly from using these types of analytics in order to better serve their customers to give a much better customer experience, as well as still taking advantage of all the security features that come from the systems that can push out these analytics.


Some of the more high-end partners that we deal with also have edge power built into the hardware that are driving these actual cameras and cameras, sensors, so that can actually do very rapid scans and identification of patterns and people as they're entering and exiting their facilities.


So it's really providing you know, a much safer environment for people as well as being able to identify patterns of customers and criminals. So really there's just an invaluable source of a better lifestyle and a better customer service experience for for all of us.


Hilary Kennedy: Well, I know you've touched on this a little bit, I would love for you to kind of further explain how having that more transparent communication and accountability between security and retail leads to that improved customer experience and operational efficiency. You know, especially when it comes to things like background checks, or watch list status or even contact tracing.


Rob Leiponis: Right. I mean, through the analytics, as people are entering facilities as guests or visitors and if they're validated or entered into their database, their information could be associated with their their analytics of their face, as they enter a facility. So, real-time background checks can be performed for you know, in high risk areas on people that are entering facilities so that way notifications can be sent out to security departments as well as law enforcement, that if in the event that there's someone that's on a watch list that the local law enforcement as well as federal can respond very quickly to mitigate any type of high-end risks that could cause a hideous crime or event.


Hilary Kennedy: That does give you a valuable peace of mind. When it comes to systems like this, you know, cost is always a factor. So how does investment in integrated technology solutions that support multiple departments, how does that provide cost effective value?


Rob Leiponis: Well, it's a big deterrent on losses that retail organizations are experiencing as well as, you know, attacks on different types of consumers and tourists. So, really you can't put a price tag on that. And plus, with the pricing of surveillance systems have come down dramatically over the years. So, to be able to utilize and leverage that type of technology provide a safer environment, you really can't put a price tag on it.


But I mean, the systems that are available are out there that provide incredible analytics to be able to leverage incredible experiences for consumers, for their staff, provides a lot better transparency in terms of identifying a customer being able to back in a profile on that customer, so when that customer walks in and the retailer is notified that you can target more important questions on how to really engage that person to have a much more successful sales experience with them.


Hilary Kennedy: I love it and I think you know, to your point all of us have become very hyper aware of what environment seems safe especially after the past, you know, year and a half safety's at the forefront of everybody's mind. So that is very helpful. And Rob, Parabit is the fourth company that you founded, which is amazing, and it serves five out of the world's top 10 financial institutions and 14 of the top 15 US retail banks. That's incredible. So you have been offering these niche solutions to banks for years, but you recently released the pair of MMR 2.0 with Bluetooth. I want to hear about this cutting edge solution.


Rob Leiponis: Oh, it's an amazing solution that we've gotten huge demand from recent trade shows that we've attended on it where we're creating a retail access control environment where for high-end stores and for our banking community user experiences customers can scan a QR code on the front of a front of a building, download their information, take a picture of their driver's license, do an instant background check on that person and they could be issued a credential to enter a facility.


Basically we're in the process of moving visitor management out to the storefronts of the building. So it provides a lot more flexibility in the utilization of building lobbies, as well as entrance ways of buildings and also taking that credentialing of those people as they walk into a facility, we have API's that integrate to digital signage displays, teller platforms, DVR systems, ATMs, that you can now change the content on those technologies as that person comes in based upon their demographics or based upon their financial portfolio that's assigned to them through the financial institution.


The same application could be used in high-end retail stores, where they have a lot of incidents where, you know, they're smash and grabs where they, you know, come into a store, grab a bunch of merchandise. Where now you can install an access control system and provide better security for your staff as well as mitigate losses.


The integration of this technology is similar to the analytics of cameras and the systems where you can know your customer better, you can better position your staff to be more successful in their sales experience during their workday. So there's a lot of development and there's other future use cases that we're we've come across by collaborating with some of our clients that we're adding to our backlog list to develop into the system as we get ready to release it.


Hilary Kennedy: That's amazing. And you know what great peace of mind, like you mentioned, for the employees who work at these businesses to know that that sort of technology is available. It's amazing. So we've kind of seen over the past year have especially retail habits they've changed in the industry is really searching for the new retail experience that kind of keeps everybody engaged. So can you touch on some of the trends that you're seeing in the industry?


Rob Leiponis: Well, I see a consolidation in the size of retail stores to a smaller form factor where some of those retail stores are becoming distribution hubs for their goods. More technology can be implemented to those facilities to better help those customers with their purchases and as well as cross selling them on other systems or other products that that consumer may be interested in.


A lot of self-service retail storefronts, like the Amazon platform where you can walk into a store and if you lift something off the shelf and you have it in your hand for more than 15 seconds, you basically have purchased it. So there's a lot of there's a lot of new and creative ways to help people self-serve themselves in public environments to minimize contact with service personnel, you know, as well as just to keep the world safer, you know, there's less contact unfortunately, that's the world that we're going into and what we're becoming.


I hope this is the last of of what we're experiencing with COVID, but I doubt it very much. But you know, we just need to focus on minimizing the amount of human touch points that are so that way we can all keep ourselves a lot safer than we have been in the past.


Hilary Kennedy: Right, and the self-service, you know, sometimes you're just not in the mood to do the small talk about the weather. Sometimes it's nice to be able to make the purchase on your own and go about your day. Well, that is actually going to do it for this episode of A Bit About. Thank you, Rob Leiponis, the President and CEO of Parabit Systems. Thanks so much for joining me today and sharing a CEO’s perspective on all of this.


Rob Leiponis: Thank you Hillary, you're great and I appreciate everybody's been able to attend the podcast. Thank you very much and have a great day.


Hilary Kennedy: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you again to all our listeners and people watching. Thanks for joining us for this episode. We appreciate it. So, if you'd like to see more episodes of the podcast and stay up to date with our future episodes, make sure to subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

We'll be back soon with another episode. But until then, I've been your host Hilary. Thanks for joining us.