Retail might be entering an exciting new era of increased customer engagement, omni-channel opportunity and e-commerce, but for the average bricks and mortar store, security loss prevention remains a major concern.
Costing American retailers $36.7 billion according to the latest figures from the Global Theft Barometer, shrinkage represents 1.27% of sales.
Here are five strategies to increase security in any retail environment.
Having a watchful eye cast over you store remains one of the most valuable tools for preventing retail shrink, but that isn’t just limited to the presence of a traditional security guard.
Employee training, and good store layout with full visibilityof high value products also assists, with Paul Bessant of Retail Knowledge telling Forbes: “The big problem for retailers is that good salesmanship and modern store layout is the equivalent of having a house sale”.
He suggests having an employee be responsible for greeting every person who enters the store, ensuring they make eye contact.
He further recommends positioning the checkout at the front of the store allowing for entrance and exit monitoring, and placing items most likely to get stolen in a sensible position where they demand employee engagement while customers peruse the wares.
Electronic Article Surveillance
Electronic Article Surveillance is nothing new, but the increasing affordability of Radio Frequency Identification RFID is making high-end solutions more accessible to the average retailer. Where once RFID was just about end-point security, now it’s revealing a whole lot more throughout the supply chain.
When implemented during manufacturing, RFID tags tell a retailer where their stock is throughout the delivery process, reducing the risk of supplier fraud. They also tackle employee theft, which the Global Theft Barometer notes actually account for 38% of loss globally.
RFID reveals where stock is in a store at any given time. Not only will accompanying alarms alert staff to items being taken, RFID allows staff to accurately monitor inventory in real time, and gain valuable information about what items are being targeted, when.
Video surveillance has been a mainstay of retail security for decades, and advancements in facial recognition ensure this loss prevention method isn’t going anywhere soon.
America’s National Retail Federation Vice President of Loss Prevention Bob Moraca told Security Magazine surveillance practices are not only becoming more sophisticated, but there’s a trend towards working surveillance of one entity with another.
That means a retailer within a mall may be targeted for theft, the images are caught on that store’s camera, then security within the mall, then CCTV on the street, making the tracking of thieves easier.
As a bonus, surveillance is also being used to analyze consumer behavior, providing insights that can improve customer engagement as well as tackle crime.
The combining of security video with more general business goals outside of loss prevention is an exciting advance, Mike Hanlon, director of sales, managed services for G4S Secure Integration told Security Magazine.
Not only is technology improving but it allows a better understanding of behavior, with the future tipped to be predictive analytics.
“We are just seeing the understanding and growth of security video analytics applied to business goals in addition to loss prevention,” Hanlon says.
High value items that are readily re-sold represent one of the greatest challenges for preventing theft.
These include mobile phones, tablets, and a host of other small electronics. These items also create a double-edged sword for retailers who understand customers need to access and experience them to commit to buy.Which is where cables, locks and secure stands come in, offering the ability for customers to touch, feel and experience an item while its security is maintained.
While traditional,locks, cables and alarmed stands also offer a visible deterrent, which is part of the key to deterring thieves, Dr Read Hayes of the Loss Prevention Research Council told Business Insider.
‘”Retailers spend so much money on technology that is hidden. That doesn’t work,” he said, noting thieves need to understand the danger, which means having technology in plain sight.
The solution is to make it harder and riskier to steal things, he continues.
Point of Sale
But loss prevention isn’t just occurring on the shop floor, it’s also happening at the register courtesy of employees. And the Point of Sale system can be a huge deterrent to theft, according to World Link Integration.
“Most modern POS systems allow businesses to set user permissions to enable or restrict certain tasks from being performed,” their article on retail loss prevention explains.
“This ensures that each employee who logs into the system has access to only what they need to do their job and perform only authorized tasks. Because these systems monitor each employee and their transactions, it gives you the resources to hold employees accountable for their actions, reducing the likelihood of employee theft and dishonest transactions.”
The final word
Experts agree; one solution will never catch all thieves, with the best retail security strategies embracing a number of methods.The key is visibility, physical presence and the use of the data provided.