With the holidays virtually upon us, this is no time for retailers to let down their guard. The busier your store is, the more inviting it is to thieves. So ‘tis the season to look at trends in retail theft prevention that can help ensure your year-end sales season is a merry one.
Experts note that the focus has moved away from arresting thieves to loss prevention – enacting tactics that ensure you lose the least. While this may sound like giving up, the truth is that no store is theft-proof.
Why should you worry?
Retail theft is trending upward. Half the losses from theft and robbery average $200 to $2,000, numbers that can add up fast for retailers. Last year, shrinkage cost retailers more than $45 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
One of the unfortunate trends in theft is organized retail crime, or ORC. You have to worry more about professionals now than you do about “personal” shoplifters. But you also have to worry about internal losses, because employees are another major source of theft. So, how can you combat these theft threats?
Trend #1: Higher Tech
Retailers are relying more on technology. They’re using the latest advancements to augment old favorites such as burglar alarms and anti-theft merchandise tags. With new “smart” video technology, you can capture faces and use those visuals to identify potential thieves. WalMart does just that, scanning every face entering their stores and using facial recognition software to compare against known shoplifters.
Retailers are also using technology to predict potential losses. Looking for patterns in location, timing, etc. can help you better target your retail theft prevention efforts.
Technology is trending with thieves, too. For every new tool you implement to foil them, they are busy figuring out how to circumvent it. They’re also using technology to be better organized. That’s why it’s so important to stay up to date.
Trend #2: Mobile Efficiencies are Actually Protecting You
You made the decision to go mobile with point of sale in order to boost customer service. But guess what? Experts say mobile devices that enable sales associates to roam the floor and interact with customers more freely also make your store less inviting to potential thieves. Who wants to “interact” when they’re trying to pocket merchandise on the sly?
Trend #3: Your Customers are Still #1
It’s easy to be so worried that you turn your attention too far toward loss prevention. It is critical to remember that, today, retailing is all about customer experience. So whatever you implement in the way of loss prevention tactics must not dampen that positive shopping experience.
What if you can’t afford the latest trendy technology?
Don’t assume your store is too small to appeal to thieves. Or that your staff is too small to include potential miscreants. Common sense and alert watchfulness are always in style. Check out potential hires thoroughly. Train employees to spot potential problems. Eliminate dark and blind spots within your store. And post signs that tell shoppers you’re watching.
Then focus on those all-important one-on-one customer interactions, throughout your store.