I like having a little creativity mixed into my days. Most weeks are spent working on investigations, meeting with detectives, and employee interviews. There’s a dedicated group of people in my organization that work with the buyers in formulating protective standards and strategies that are aimed at reducing shrink in some of our highest loss categories. Sometimes though, working in the stores gives me a unique perspective on some of the bigger challenges faced by the stores. Perspectives that you just don’t get when you sit in an office for forty hours a week. I work for a large sporting goods retailer’s loss prevention department. To this day, it still amazes me what people will steal, and all the different ways they do it.
Not too long ago I was investigating the theft of high end ice chests. When you think of an ice chest, you probably don’t think about spending more than $30 on one… believe it or not, there are a few out there that are upwards of $399. Mostly your serious hunters and offshore fishermen fancy these since they can keep ice, well ice for up to a week. That’s pretty significant and these guys and your amateur hunters won’t hesitate to dole up some serious money for that. The problem I find though is that no matter how much training we provide to our cashiers, they often allow these coolers to be sold to dishonest customers at a much lower price. I’m talking about price switching, and it’s the easiest way to get a $400 cooler for $40. I had a guy that was doing this on a regular basis and I learned later, that he selling this for about half of what we did. We needed a solution to better identify this product to our cashiers and I came up with a clever solution using O-Tags to stop his reign of terror.
The coolers had a handle, just like most, but it was a thinner metal handle. This handle was about the same width as a golf club. I had a stroke of genius. I ran to the supply room and grabbed a handful of Alpha O-Tags and started applying them to the coolers. They fit perfectly and blended seamlessly with the product. It wasn’t bulky, it didn’t detract from the display and most important of all is that it worked. I drafted a training memo to the store for all cashiers. It was simple. If a cooler comes through your line with this tag, it cost more than $300. Since the cashier had to remove the tag it was fool proof.
Within a couple of weeks, I had documented at least a dozen attempts to price switch this cooler that were thwarted by using the Alpha O-Tag. I compiled my stats and took a few photos and sent it up the chain. Within a week, it was a companywide standard. People still attempt to price switch them, but now they find that even our most inexperienced cashiers will catch their attempt.
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