Convenience is now a critical component of the customer experience while ‘contactless’ is the buzzword when it comes to safely navigate the post-Covid retail landscape.
One small but significant tool that taps into both these trends is smart keys, so what exactly are they and how can they assist?
What is a smart key?
A smart key is a key that can be programmed to unlock one or multiple locks. In retail, they can be used anywhere from storage drawers and glass displays through to cabinets and display stands.
In the process, they increase the retailer’s security in terms of mitigating both shoplifting and employee theft, but also offer a wealth of further benefits that improve both the customer experience and store operation.
So, let’s dive a little deeper, with a quick review of just one type of available smart key technology and the benefits it offers.
Case study: InVue
Featured products: IR Package Wrap and OneKEY Detacher, available from Vitag
One of the leading brands in the smart key and lock arena is InVue. They offer an ecosystem that allows one programmed key to open any compatible lock. This unique and high-security key can then be coded for a staff member to use, allowing them to open any lock in their section, or some locks but not others.
Keys are automatically reset each night, so if a key is lost or stolen it cannot be used the next day.
Meanwhile, the LIVE Access software that accompanies the InVue ecosystem allows retail management to track which staff member opened what cabinet.
Further retail analytics also offer an insight into how often cabinets or drawers were accessed or how frequently customers interacted with in-store displays such as InVue smartphone, IoT and tablet displays.
Smart key benefits
Among the many benefits of smart keys are convenience, efficiency and security. But the positives of utilizing a single ecosystem also extend far beyond that.
Convenience and speed
Rather than having a set of keys that is accessed by each staff member to open the relevant cabinet, smart keys allow one key to be allocated to each relevant employee. The key can then be programmed to open the specific locks that staff member is likely to access.
This reduces the risk of losing important keys, but also saves time when it comes to service, as the staff member does not have to source the right key for the relevant lock.
Meanwhile, it ensures staff only have access to cabinets and drawers relevant to them, rather than the entire set of store keys.
Less handling, better hygiene
An important benefit in the current landscape is that key allocation allows for less handling of communal keys in the retail environment.
At present, there’s a focus on contactless retail where any possible transmission source of Covid is reduced – this includes transmission between staff. Smart key allocation assists with this.
One of the biggest risks of traditional keys is loss or theft. As smart keys automatically re-set daily or can be switched off remotely, this risk is eliminated.
Meanwhile, staff access codes allow retail management to track which cabinets, drawers or displays a staff member accesses, and this allows for faster identification of employee theft.
When paired with LIVE software, smart keys can highlight trends in-store and facilitate a greater volume of sales.
For example, if a smartphone display or tablet display is regularly accessed by customers, but the sales ratio is low, it reveals something about the customer service or the product.
The customer experience
Featured products: IR Locking Hook, OneKEY and IR Safers available from Vitag
Finally, smart keys allow for improved customer experience. Not only do they speed up service in-store, when used with displays such as smartphone, tablet or IoT device stands, but they also allow the customer to touch, feel and test a product while the item is still protected against theft.
You can learn more about OneKEY and the InVue smart lock ecosystem here.