Hidden Cameras: No Way to Treat CustomersWith minister Smriti Irani getting caught on a CCTV camera in the trail room of the high profile Fabindia store in Goa, the worst kept secret of high profile garment stores has come out. For some time now, there were whispers that almost all big garment stores had installed CCTV cameras inside trial rooms. This was necessitated by what the stores termed as novel ways of shoplifting that involved visits to the trial rooms.
By Sunil Garodia
All stores now have the Electronic Article Surveillance System (EAS) in place. Despite having the latest technology and a multi-layered detection process, if the stores still feel the need of invading the privacy of customers and recording them in their most unguarded moments, then there is something seriously wrong.
The facts are all loaded against the customer pinching a product. The products are barcoded and protected by a magnetic tags (to be detected at the exit gate vertical towers). These magnetic tags can be of simple magnetic field or of acousto-magnetic, radio frequency or microwave types. Although these tags can be rendered useless by a simple covering with an aluminum foil bag or sticking a coin or metal piece on the magnetic field, such things can only be done by a hardened shoplifter. For this too, stores have a system of allowing only a few pieces inside the trial room and the lady guard keeps a hawks eye on shoppers. So where is the need for the cameras?
Excess of anything is bad but excess of security is choking. For women, shopping is a pastime full of pleasure. If they have to be on their guard for voyeurs, the pleasure will vanish. The importance of the trial room cannot be discounted as more than the size, it is the satisfaction of seeing how the dress looks on her that sends the person rushing to that room. If it is not safe, then will women shop at brick and mortar stores anymore? Similar products are available at lower prices online. There is an easy Ã¢â¬Åno questions askedÃ¢â¬Â return policy too. WouldnÃ¢â¬â¢t shoppers veer to buying online and trying the products in the safety of their homes? They can always return them if they are not satisfied.
Brick and mortar stores have to think of other ways to prevent shoplifting. CCTV cameras in trial rooms or washrooms are a big no-no. If they are not able to get their act together soon, they will lose a substantial chunk of their customers from metros and Tier II towns at least, to online shopping.