ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Technology

Shoplifters beware: there's a reason the tune has changed

Facial recognition technology tips off staff by switching the music

A system that uses facial recognition technology to help stores detect shoplifters could prove a boon for booksellers, which are frequent targets of thieves.   © Reuters

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.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends June 30th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media