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In order to protect valuable stock and confidential information, as well as to ensure the safety of all staff and customers, retail store owners and proprietors must install effective on-site security systems such as comprehensive retail access control and integrated alarm systems. These security systems should be capable of preventing intrusion events and deterring instances of physical crime.
Over the past year, US retail crime has continued to surge with 8 out of 10 retailers reporting an increase in violent incidents and retailer losses amounting to nearly $100 billion USD. This illustrates the need for proactive retail security and reliable hardware solutions, with the focal point of such protections often being the storefront locks used to manage access to retail properties.
For retail store owners interested in installing a new storefront door lock system or those intending to upgrade existing commercial door lock hardware or door security, this short guide will cover the most effective types of storefront door locks currently available, including use cases, benefits and potential drawbacks.
A storefront door lock, sometimes known as a storefront mortise lock, is a manufactured hardware mechanism specially designed to be installed into the frame of exterior-facing retail store doorways. The device will be mortised into the door’s existing lock stile and configured to eject a secure bolt of metal into the opposing side in order to fix the entryway in place by securing the door within its frame.
There are several styles of commercial storefront door locks to choose from, with some devices better suited to certain types of doors and wider retail security systems. However, the basic premise remains that all retail store door locks are intended to manage property access by securing doors from unauthorized entry.
Deadlocks are among the most common styles of storefront door lock and are exclusively used to secure swinging retail access doors, rather than sliding storefront doors. The reason for this is that deadlock retail door locks are designed to eject a straight steel bolt out from one side of the frame deep into the opposing side, preventing pushing or pulling motions from causing the doors to open.
The deadbolt lock itself will be made from laminated steel to prevent potential intruders from forcing entry by attempting to cut through the bolt or by prying the storefront mortise lock open using a tool. Retail glass door locks can make use of deadlocks. As the hardware will be installed into the door’s lock stile, the frame must be thick enough to house the lock cylinder and the ejected deadbolt.
Hook bolt retail door locks are a variation of the deadbolt design, with the major difference being that the deadbolt itself is shaped like a hook, rather than a straight piece of laminated steel. This distinction allows hook bolt storefront locks to be installed in sliding doors as the bolt will remain secured even if an intruder attempts to pry the doors open, although hook bolts are not so effective when installed for swinging doors.
Hook bolt mechanisms are typically used as commercial glass storefront door locks, in part because the bolt hardware will not be required to protrude as far into the frame as a regular deadbolt, allowing glass doors with smaller frames to accommodate this design.
Deadlatch storefront locks use a spring-loaded bolt design to prevent unauthorized persons from gaining entry while also allowing persons inside the property to exit without requiring a key. A deadlatch lock is ideal for use cases in which after-hours property access is required. For example, a gas station that doesn’t allow interior access after a certain time can be locked using a deadlatch to prevent unauthorized exterior access, but staff can exit freely from within by depressing an interior handle.
Proximity-based retail store door locks remove the need for traditional keys by managing building access using proximity card reader systems with touchless key cards or fobs. The storefront mortise lock is connected to an electronic management system that searches for valid credentials using RFID or NFC radio wave technology. For a retail glass door, electromagnetic lock technology can secure the door from the top or bottom of the frame, allowing for a better aesthetic finish.
Rather than using a traditional key to interface with the lock cylinder, staff simply hold an issued key card in proximity to a door-mounted key card door reader. If the presented credentials match a preapproved set stored in a connected database, the lock mechanism will disengage to grant access to the holder.
Choosing to operate a proximity-based lock system allows store owners to manage access digitally. By using a digital management system, admins can issue, adjust and revoke individual permissions at any time, meaning if a card is lost or stolen, credentials can be deleted to prevent possible intrusions.
Mobile credential systems are similar to proximity retail door locks in that authorized persons can gain entry using touchless and remotely managed digital credentials. However, these configurations remove the expense associated with physical key cards by issuing mobile credentials directly to the user’s smartphone.
Door-mounted readers are connected to each physical storefront mortise lock with these devices able to switch the internal bolt between the locked and unlocked positions. As all access permissions are managed from within the user’s smartphone, multi-factor authentication can be enabled by using the fingerprint and facial recognition scanners present in modern devices to add extra layers of security.
Both proximity-based and mobile credential door locks can be managed remotely if a cloud-based security system (vs. on-premise) is chosen. Admins will have access to a digital portal that contains all active credentials and a log of all access events.
From here, admins can instantly issue, adjust and revoke access to specific users, as well as view real-time records of access events, acting to improve on-site security, prevent credential misuse and develop informed security systems.
Selecting appropriate storefront locks will require property owners to fully assess existing hardware. Deadlocks are best suited to swinging doors, hook bolts are designed to secure sliding doors and the use of a deadlatch will help to prevent exterior access after hours without hindering staff from exiting.
It’s also worth exploring keyless commercial storefront door locks for your retail store. From seamless cloud-based management to secure, touchless access control, knowing the different types of smart retail storefront locks and their use cases can help to improve on-site security and enhance access management.
Our video security experts can help you implement the right security system for your business.