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Shop security systems

Shops of all sizes could benefit from improved security - find out more about the different options here

Theft, vandalism, attacks on staff – these are just some of the ways in which your shop’s security could be compromised. While you may not want to think about such scenarios, as a shop owner it can pay to be alert to these possibilities. 

The direct costs of retail crime included £700m in losses from customer theft in the period between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. This is according to the annual Retail Crime Survey published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

So what are the options available to you as a small retail business owner? In this article we’ll provide more information about business security systems for shops in particular. But what are the best providers and systems? How much would it cost to fit an alarm system into your shop?

We’ll investigate which risks retail businesses might face, and how a security system could help. We’ll offer a guide to some of the best retail alarm systems currently available, as well as tips on how to choose, and save money on, a security system for your shop. 

The best retail alarm system providers at a glance

Alarm systemBest for
Price
Verisure 3G Control PanelFast flexibilityPrices available on request
Secom Wireless Intruder AlarmClear pricing£795+
ADT Intruder AlarmCombined securityPrices available on request

To compare quotes for business security, simply complete the form at the top of the page.

You can go straight to the section you want to learn about the most by clicking on the links above. Or, read the article from start to finish for a more detailed look into shop security systems.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to compare quotes for business security now, fill in the form at the top of the page.

What are shop security systems?

A retail security system is a way of protecting your goods, your team members and your shop. It’s used to catch intruders and thieves, as well as to deter them from entering or stealing in the first place.

Retail security systems can be scaled depending on the size of the business. For example, the security requirements of one small shop with one entry point and cash desk, in comparison to that of a department store with multiple entrances, levels and pay points, are likely to be considerably different.

There have been more than a million incidents of theft in the past year, according to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) 2019 Crime Report.

If you use a professional security company, they may also offer a monitoring service, meaning they survey your alarms and cameras and can alert you, as well as the relevant authorities (e.g. emergency services) if a break-in should occur.

One of the main problems facing retail business owners is shoplifting – therefore, security cameras offer a way to monitor your shop floor, and alarms can alert you if a theft has occurred.

A security company can assess your shop’s specific needs. Camera and alarm systems that you can self-install and monitor yourself are possible – often you can use an app to connect them to a smartphone and alerts can be sent to your device.

If you own a shop and live above it, then you should consider how each premises needs to be protected individually.

What risks does my retail premises face?

When you’re running your own retail business, there are a number of potential risks and threats, which could be helped by using a security system. These include:

  • Violence against staff – installing an alarm system not only protects your premises, it can support your staff too. For example, a panic button or emergency responses could help staff to feel protected and safe
  • Theft – an alarm system offers a barrier against potential theft, as people may be more deterred from breaking into or stealing from your property if they can see an alarm system

Benefits of retail security systems

Here we outline some of the main benefits of retail security systems, including:

  • Tagging – this is an affordable and easy way to protect goods, which is often used for high value or age-restricted items. Whether you opt for a ‘do-it-yourself’ solution or use a professional security service, tagged products can be identified easily and quickly, should someone attempt to steal them
  • Security cameras – offering a discreet or obvious form of surveillance, cameras can be used to deter would-be intruders, as well as provide footage of an incident 
  • Alarm systems – alarms can be used to act as a deterrent, and monitored systems can provide quick responses should the alarms be activated by a potential break-in
  • Constant security – tagged products, security cameras and alarm systems all offer 24/7 protection against potential thefts and break-ins, which is especially ideal overnight or other times people aren’t present on-site
  • Adaptable – with such a range of products to choose from, and different ways of implementing systems within a shop, it’s possible to create a system that matches your particular business needs

What are the best retail alarm systems on the market?

With so many different products and providers to choose from, we’ve rounded up three of the top picks for retail alarm systems.

Verisure 3G Control Panel: Best for fast flexibility

The Verisure 3G Control Panel is at the centre of Versiure’s commercial alarm offering. It can be connected to a variety of different devices, such as sirens, panic buttons, surveillance cameras and other types of detectors. Plus, it’s the only portable control panel available on the market.

Offering a permanent 3G link to the Verisure Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), and completely wireless technology that can be installed in less than 24 hours, the Verisure 3G Control Panel provides the basis of a flexible and secure alarm system.

ProsCons
- Flexible, portable control panel that can be arranged to suit your business requirements
- Permanent 3G link to the Verisure ARC
- Installation in 24 hours or less
- Wireless devices
- Only offers wireless systems so may not be suitable for businesses that can’t sustain this type of system

With Verisure promising a quick and easy installation in 24 hours or less, the Verisure 3G Control Panel is best for businesses that need a flexible alarm system, fast.

Prices available on request.

Secom Wireless Intruder Alarm: Best for clear pricing

Offering continuous monitoring, a grade 2 system and an installation process that’s approved by insurance companies, the Secom Wireless Intruder Alarm is ideal for a range of small retail businesses.

The wireless alarm uses secure radio frequency and GPRS signalling is available, along with installation and maintenance provided by SECOM-trained engineers. Secom also offers a free security consultation.

ProsCons
- Grade 2 wireless alarm system
- 24/7 monitoring available
- Aimed at small commercial premises
- Free security consultation
- Suitable for smaller premises so may not be appropriate for growing businesses

With packages from £795, and a free security consultation available, the Secom Wireless Intruder Alarm is best suited to businesses who need clear pricing structures. 

Prices from £795+.

ProsCons
- NSI Gold approved organisation
- Established provider
- Integrated security system
- Choice of monitoring packages
- Minimal information about the products

As ADT can provide many aspects of security, including additional devices and monitoring responses, it’s ideal for businesses wanting an intruder alarm that’s part of a wider, integrated system.

Prices available on request.

For more information, read our guide to commercial alarm systems for small businesses.

Tips for choosing the right alarm for your retail premises

While every business is different, and so will have varying needs, we’ve compiled some of the top tips to consider to help you find an alarm system that is the best match for your shop. 

  • Conduct a risk assessment – if you opt for a professional installation, it may be possible to get the alarm company to carry out checks on your premises to identify the areas and ways in which your property could be most vulnerable to theft and break-ins
  • Check certification – the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) are two of the leading certifying bodies in the security services sector. Also, ensure that products meet British Standards Institution (BSI) levels
  • Compare within your local area – speak with other small business owners or the police in your area to find out the types of crimes that businesses are experiencing to make a security system that can help against these
  • Assess insurance stipulations – your insurance may have certain limitations or requirements for protecting a business of your size or nature so check with them to find out any necessities for alarms to comply with the terms of the cover
  • Identify your premises requirements – how an alarm can protect your property is likely to differ depending on the type, size and nature of the shop that you run, so take these into consideration when choosing systems

Shop security system costs

In addition to the cost of the security devices for your shop, there are other charges to think about too, such as installation and maintenance.

Installation

Generally, alarm systems, security doors, panic buttons and other similar aspects of security systems will require professional installation, as they’re more complex. 

When factoring these into your budget, take into account the amount of time the installation process will take and how many engineers or specialists it will require to complete it. 

Plus, assess if your business can continue to operate during the installation process and if not, consider any impact that this may have on your business overall.

Maintenance

Security systems will need to be serviced and maintained on a regular basis to ensure that they are still working correctly and fit for purpose. At a minimum, these checks will take place once a year for some types of alarms, although monitored alarm systems and fire alarms will need to be maintained more frequently.

Be sure to find out if maintenance contracts are offered with the devices or separately, and alter your budget accordingly. Also, some companies are able to service alarms that they didn’t install, so consider this if it applies to your business.

Tips for saving money on your retail security system

Here, we profile some of the key ways of reducing shop security costs. 

  • DIY installation – if you have the technical ability, then it may be possible to install some elements of your shop security system yourself. For example, some stock tagging devices that offer basic protection can be installed yourself. 
  • Customised systems – create a system that is specific to your business so you only pay for the protective elements that your shop really needs. This means security that is targeted on the areas of your shop that are most at risk
  • Compare prices – as each shop’s security system is likely to be different, gather as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision. You can compare quotes for business security by completing the form at the top of the page

How to use shop security systems

When creating a security strategy, consider both risks from inside and outside of your shop.

Arson, robbery and shoplifting are examples of risks from outside of your shop. Risks that may come from staff and other people that may have access to your business, such as suppliers or contractors, are risks from inside your shop. To help with this, you can use access control to limit movement on your premises.

Think about the design of the system too – do you want it to stand out or blend into the surroundings? This is likely to depend on the design and branding of your shop.

When deciding how to secure and protect your shop, there are essentially two options: use a specialist security company (some may even specialise in retail services in particular), or install and monitor the system yourself.

Remember to train staff in the security procedures. A security company may offer this if you use this service, or you can look at alternative ways of training your team if you set up and monitor the security system yourself.

The fitting rooms in clothes stores can be particularly vulnerable to shoplifting. You can have a member of staff dedicated to monitoring this area, and use tags on clothes, to help prevent and minimise theft from occurring.

Pedestal systems

Pedestal systems are the alarmed barriers near the door that can detect security tags or labels. They’re activated if someone passes through without having had it scanned and deactivated at the till – this can suggest theft, but it can also be a false alarm too.

Door security systems like this can be visible, or they can be concealed within the entryway.

There are a number of different types of tags, including hard tags and labels, as well as alarmed and ink-based devices. With the latter, ink is spilled if someone attempts to remove the tag without proper equipment. Detachers have to be used to remove the tags.

Some work with both label and tag systems, while others may only work with either. Labels use different frequencies to raise the alarm.

They may be fitted with specialist devices so that different sounds or alerts can be heard for stock that’s placed too near to the barriers, such as window displays.

To use this type of system, you need security tags or labels on stock, in addition to the barriers.

Retail alarm systems

You should also consider a retail store alarm system to protect your shop when it’s unoccupied, such as outside of trading hours, overnight, or if you go overseas.

These systems use detectors and sensors to alert you (or the monitoring company) to a potential break-in or intruder.

Intruder alarms work by a series of sensors in a space that are connected to a central control panel. The panel is where the alarm can be activated and deactivated, either by entering a code or swiping a physical fob.

The costs of fitting an alarm into your retail business will vary depending on the size of your shop and the complexity of its security requirements.

Learn more about intruder alarms and alarm system costs.

Retail CCTV systems

Another common security method is to use retail CCTV security systems.

You should consider the type of cameras and where they would need to be placed e.g. high traffic areas like entrances, or near the till.

It’s also possible to self-install cameras – there are specially made kits, for example.

Wireless cameras are easier to self-install and offer more covert surveillance. You also don’t need to worry about the safety of cables and wires on your premises.

In contrast, wired cameras need to be connected and fixed into place, and suit businesses looking for a strong security presence, as well as those that may not have the strong internet connection that wireless cameras require.

You may be able to access the recordings remotely to view from wherever you are, so even if you’re not at your shop, you can see what is happening. It may be possible to use the recordings during an investigation, if needed.

What is video analytics?

If you use a professional company to install and monitor the cameras, then an analytics service may also be available. It collects data that can help you to track and monitor footfall and activity in your shop.

This is usually more suitable for larger premises or multi-site operations. Analytics can produce heat maps, or tell you where the direction of traffic in-store is going, for example. It could also be used to support retail shop security systems.

If you’re interested in using CCTV cameras for retail shops, read our pages on CCTV cameras and security monitoring for more information.

Other methods

You should also consider securing entry and exit points with security doors and locks. This could be to restrict access to the stockroom, as well as areas that are off the shopfloor and not open to the public.

Fire alarms are another important aspect of protecting your business and team members.

If your shop carries high value or luxury goods, you may want to consider security fog.

Some general tips for ways in which you can secure your shop include:

  • Place mirrors around the shopfloor for increased visibility
  • Make the shelves and aisles low so they can be seen across easily
  • For a more overt security presence, you may wish to use security guards
  • Greet customers to let people know that you’re aware of who is coming and going
  • Try to have more than one staff member on the shopfloor
  • Lock or secure high value items in cabinets e.g. electronics or jewellery
  • When placing high value goods in cabinets, ensure that they’re also locked and alarmed
  • Keep track of thefts and other security issues
  • Keep your shop tidy

Whichever type of retail security system you use, consider how it will be maintained and serviced.

Next steps: Compare retail alarm systems

At this stage, you’ve learned more about shop security systems, including what they are and how they work, as well as the different options for creating a system that’s right for your business requirements. Plus, we’ve looked at some of the potential benefits of securing your shop.

For more detailed information relating specifically to your small business, complete the form at the top of the page to compare quotes for business security now.



Scarlett Cook attends and reports on many industry events for Startups.co.uk, particularly those relating to communication, equality and diversity in entrepreneurship.

Since joining the team in 2018, she has developed our telephone systems and business mobiles topics as well as ‘how to’ guides, with her work having been referenced by brands such as Hiscox. Previously, she has written for audiences across the UK, Australia and New Zealand.