It is well-known in retail that there are shoplifters out to steal merchandise straight off of your shelves. There are even trickier ways that thieves can cause your store to experience loss, and many ways to prevent them from happening. In my business, they call these special shoplifting situations. One of the sneakiest ways shoplifters perform their “craft” is by switching merchandise tags. This can happen either before purchasing the merchandise, or before returning it. Another special shoplifting situation is when a customer attempts to return merchandise to the store that was not purchased at the store, called return fraud. Below are explanations of these tricky tactics, and some great ways to prevent shoplifting.
Ticket switching happens frequently and can be difficult to catch. The most common type of ticket switching is when an illegitimate customer takes the price tag from a less-expensive item, and places it onto the more expensive item they want to purchase. The level of sophistication in these schemes can vary. Most tag switchers will try to peel off clearance price tags, bend or tear cardboard tags off of the plastic tag holder and place them onto the item they want to purchase. Some thieves even utilize the plastic tagging guns that your associates use and replace the tags in a legitimate-appearing fashion.
Another form of tag switching is UPC switching, which involves either covering up, or replacing UPC barcodes on items to get them at a cheaper price. Sometimes thieves will take items completely out of a box and place them into the box of a cheaper item to get them at a reduced price. In my experience, I have even seen customers create their own UPC barcode stickers and place them over the original UPC on the item, ringing them up at a lower price. Likewise, I have seen UPC labels cut out of boxes and replaced with others for the same reason. Not only will shoplifters try to buy items at a lesser price, but they will also try to return them at a higher price than what they paid for, if they even paid at all!
Another special shoplifting situation is return fraud. This can happen in many ways, but most typically involves a shoplifter attempting to return merchandise that has either already been shoplifted, or that was just picked off of the shelf. This allows shoplifters to get 100% of the value of the product, instead of having to sell it on the streets for ten cents on the dollar. Likewise, they get immediate access to cash. There are many different elements that can be added to the return fraud scenario including the use of a receipt to conduct the fraud, tag switching or box-stuffing before return, UPC switching, just to name a few. There are two fairly simple yet powerful ways to stop shoplifting of this kind.
To prevent shoplifting that occurs through these special scenarios, employee training is most important. Ensure that employees know the return policy and stick to it; this goes for management also. There will be some exceptions of course, but following policy is the best way to insulate you from return fraud, along with having a good return policy. Secondly, employees must be familiar with product and prices! This will prevent return of merchandise that didn’t come from the store, and items being returned or purchased at a greater or lower price. Well trained employees can spot the brands that don’t belong in the store, and the prices that don’t match the product.
For more information contact us: Prevent Shoplifting or call 1.770.426.0547