Communication Overload Can Curtail Efforts To Stop Shoplifting
From retail businesses that are trying to stop shoplifting to restaurants advertising for new employees there are some really odd communications and sometimes too much signage in retail. I get a charge out of stores that post signs outside a restroom saying “No Merchandise Beyond This Point”. I look down and expect to see an “X” or a red line I can’t cross. There are signs on entrance doors that say “No Concealed Weapons Allowed”. Now I am not going into the gun debate that is not what this is about. What tickles me is if it is concealed, who is going to see it to tell the customer that they can’t have it? A fast food restaurant near where I live posted on their electronic billboard, “Expanding Staff”. Now c’mon folks, you have to admit that is probably not the best choice of words for trying to hire for a fast food restaurant. Words mean things but they may mean less when they are not communicated well and can even cause confusion. I remember asking one of my Loss Prevention Associates to put electronic article surveillance (EAS labels) on boxes of medicine without further clarifying what I wanted. The Associate did what I asked and later when I happened to look at what he tagged for me the labels were covering up warning labels! This was a big deal and I learned from then on to be clear when I gave directions to my staff members.
There was another instance when I was trying to stop shoplifting and I was following a suspect out of the store. A communication blunder occurred when I asked a member of my team to wait outside as I was getting ready to exit so I would have someone ready to assist. I stopped the suspect and got into a bit of a tussle and the shoplifter ran to her car and got away. As she drove off my assistant came up and I asked where he had gone? He said I told him to wait outside so he went to the far end of the building and waited! I did not think I had to be so specific but clearly I was mistaken…we had a serious discussion when we returned to the office.
Sometimes we can also experience information overload that detracts from our ability to communicate clearly. A good example of this is seen when we walk into a store and the doors are plastered with signage. Have you ever noticed doors plastered with signs that will include sales, store hours, warnings that shirts and shoes must be worn, this store under closed circuit television surveillance and EAS systems in use (they may even mention the specific company such as Sensormatic). Too many signs renders all of the signs ineffective in what they are intended to do. In order to better communicate with customers and improve efforts to reduce shortage I recommend that a door have hours of operation and signage that lets customers know EAS labels are in use. Other signs with holiday specials, holiday hours or sales events can be displayed immediately upon entering the store. Hint: if your store uses Sensormatic equipment some front door towers can be set up to display store signage and still sound the alarm if someone attempts to shoplift.
Although they are not signs stores can impede efforts to stop shoplifting by overusing closed circuit television camera monitors on the salesfloor. I know of a chain store that has a LOT of monitors throughout the store in various aisles. The monitor has a little flashing light and words in red that let you know they are recording. The idea is to dissuade thieves from stealing but there are so many of these monitors that people become immune to and no longer care about them, shoplifters included.
Just as overused signs and equipment can cause information overload and become ineffective, overused and careless placement of EAS labels can be ineffective too. Placing Sensormatic tags and labels on everything including candy and snacks or slapping labels on carelessly can also degrade the impact they have on shoplifters. Avoid misplacement and improper use of Sensormatic labels and tags contact Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. for training that will help reduce shoplifting and improve shortage results.
Need information on EAS labels? Give us a call at 1.866.914.2567 now.