Ok, I am just going to admit it up front – my business is shoplifting prevention and the sales/service of Checkpoint Systems and Alpha High Theft products to small and medium sized retailers. With that out of the way, I want to tell you something that I do not understand about retail store owners, managers and the prevention of shoplifting.
Yes, we can install the equipment. However, to be truly successful at pushing shoplifters away from your store, you have to use customer service as a tool to shut down the thieves. I am amazed that store owners do not understand that customer service is the first weapon in the anti-shoplifting arsenal. The beauty of it is that it is a no lose situation. Normally we provide customer service for some of the following reasons:
- Help the customer decide what/how much to purchase.
- Build trust
- Build “our stores” brand
- Add-on sales
- Create a friendly environment.
These reasons alone are what make customer service a powerful anti-shoplifting tool. Shoplifters hate attention! To do what they do, they must have privacy even for a few seconds. Customer Service blocks their ability to steal.
When you approach a customer and discuss the merchandise they are looking at, in this example let’s say it is bracelets. The customer is judging color, style… and they love the attention especially if you are giving them details about the way it was made, why it is special, the stones in it…. Remember that is probably why they are in your store versus a big box like Target. They are looking for the unusual and the customer service. Try asking someone in a big box about the “stones” in a bracelet they have for sale and the 19 year old stock clerk will look at you like you are an alien.
A shoplifter will react to customer service differently than a good customer who is out enjoying a little “retail therapy”, the shoplifter will shun it.
So what do you do? Keep supplying customer service. In many case the shoplifter will give up and go away. Most likely for good, because in their mind there are much easier targets, your competitors.
But how can you use customer service if you suspect that they have concealed an item? Using our previous example why not ask the “customer” something like – “Would you like to see a scarf to go with your bracelet?”
Let’s say the customer did not conceal or steal the bracelet but actually put it down. They are not thinking about theft. They know you are a retailer supplying your usual good customer service. They were interested in and looking at bracelets. The shoplifter on the other hand (ok bad pun – bracelets/hands…) concealed the bracelet and they will react differently. Sometimes defensively, many times they will simply pull the bracelet out and give it back with a mumbled response of something dumb like – “I just put in my pocket or purse, because I was looking at other things.” Yea, ok, except concealment in a retail store is theft in most states (you can contact me to find out if your state is one of them). The big picture is good customer service for all your customers good and bad is a no lose proposition.
So if that works so well, do I still need a Checkpoint System or Alpha tags? The answer is “YES” because you cannot be everywhere all the time, your staff will have various levels of customer service skills and shoplifters will target you when you have a poor staff to customer ratio. Remember this, the Checkpoint System and the Alpha equipment is on duty 24/7.
But first get your house in order with good customer service. Track your losses and see your profits improve just from good shoplifting prevention from customer service.