TOKYO -- Security system provider 3rd-eyes has recently launched a new facial identification-based system to detect shoplifters. The company looks to install the system in 100 shops, mainly bookstores, throughout Japan by the end of March 2019.
A study shows that losses for the country's booksellers from shoplifting totals about 10-20 billion yen ($90-180 million) annually, a significant problem for large and small shops.
Security cameras strategically placed in a store will read customers' facial and other features, including estimated age and gender, and store the data on a cloud server. Suspicious persons would be flagged, with staff alerted via smartphone or by changing the shop's background music the next time a suspect entered the store. A three-month test conducted in a Tokyo bookstore correctly identified repeat shoplifters 93% of the time.
Analysis and data storage are performed in the cloud so shops do not need an on-site server.
The anti-shoplifting system costs a minimum of 700,000 yen for the initial installation, with monthly fees starting at 7,800 yen. Still, total spending for the system will be only 10-20% as that of conventional methods for combating shoplifting, which entail hiring in-store observers, according to 3rd-eyes.
The system can be also used for marketing purposes, allowing shops to survey the number of visitors by day of the week, time and gender-specific purchasing habits.
3rd-eyes has high hopes that the new security system will help bookstores in their fight against shoplifting.
So-called "loss rates," or proportions of unsold, missing books to total sales at bookstores are said to stand at 1-2%. Shoplifting accounts for a substantial percentage of the loss rate. For bookstores, whose razor-thin operating profit margins are typically around 2%, shoplifting has become a significant problem. Small businesses are particularly hurt by theft.
As of May 2017, there were about 12,500 bookstores in Japan, according to a Tokyo-based research company. This is a 27% drop over a decade, suggesting hard times for brick-and-mortar booksellers, whose customers are increasingly buying and reading books online.
3rd-eyes was launched in 2006 and specializes in developing camera security software. It posted about 1.5 billion yen in sales for the year through March.