If you're a retail shop owner, you're busy beefing up inventory for the holiday season. Hopefully, your sales are planned, your employees are trained and ready, and you're working toward a healthy bottom line.
Beware of what can rob you of that healthy bottom line. With an increase in traffic through your door comes the increase in theft. Store owners call it shrink, thieves call it lift, the law goes with plain shoplifting. However you name it, the Global Retail Theft Barometer says over $100 billion is lost globally in revenue each year by shrinkage. The breakdown looks like this:
38% -- shoplifters
28% -- dishonest employee theft
21% -- administrative errors and non-crime loss
13% -- supplier fraud
The social factors that contribute to the shoplifting problem are many. Social pressure both in teenagers and adults, impulsive decisions to take something on the spot, a tough economy leading to desperation theft, shoplifting as profession, fun, obsession, or sport; whatever the reason that drives a person to steal merchandise from a store, the fact is shoplifting is recognized as a global problem, with the effects trickling down to the everyday consumer.
3 loss prevention tips for your retail store
Likely you know that the busier the store, the higher the likelihood of theft to occur from your location. Eyes and ears, technology, smart layouts and good training are important in minimizing loss.
1. Employees are clutch: Experts say the number one preventative activity is good customer service. Your employees are the "boots on the ground," so to speak, of your retail location. They should know when a person enters the store, make eye contact and interact with the customer, and take note when he or she leaves. Shoplifters crave privacy and anonymity to make the grab, so a watchful sales associate is a definite deterrent.
Employees should be watchful even when a customer makes a legitimate purchase. A recent news story reported on a man who stole 32 iPhones from a New Jersey Wal-Mart by dumping them into a suitcase. He paid for the luggage but made off with the loot.
Unfortunately, employees also contribute to the theft problem. In the U.S., employees account for 43 percent of lost revenue from theft. Employee theft typically occurs during checkout, because associates can manipulate transactions in their favor, by voiding transactions, modifying prices, or entering coupon codes that the customer never used.
2. Train your staff well: Seasoned shoplifters are good at flustering staff, so understaffed and overstressed employees are more easily swindled. Also, make your shoplifting policy clear to both your staff and to customers. Print your policy on your receipt, post signs about what happens to shoplifters in your store, and train your employees on what to do if they suspect theft, and what to do if they catch a thief.
3. Plan your space to thwart theft: Your store design can have a big effect on shoplifting. Place your checkout counters up front near the doors, use low fixtures to light up dark areas of the store, place mirrors around to reflect your shopper's moves and make isles wide open to see customers better. Less merchandise not only makes a display seem uncluttered but makes it harder to conceal items in purses or bags. Keep valuable items behind locks.
Also, make your surveillance efforts clear and visible. Cameras should be in obvious view; they say to would-be shoplifters, "we're watching!"
Lastly, know what thieves might target in your store. The Global Retail Theft Barometer lists these items at the most stolen:
- fashion accessories
- power tools
- mobile accessories
- wine and spirits
What items should you keep under close watch? Do you have a training plan in place for employees and an overall plan to reduce lost revenue from shrinkage?