According to the 2014-2015 Global Theft Barometer Report, the major causes of Shortage were 39% employee theft, 38% shoplifting and 16% administrative/non-crime causes. According to a 2013 online BloombergBusiness article the retail industry estimated the cost of wardrobing to be about 8.8 billion dollars a year in return fraud. As stores prepare for the New Year and upcoming annual inventories, it is a great time to begin evaluating operational procedures and anti-theft and fraud strategies. Occasionally businesses want to try to fix everything at once and they try to roll out a laundry list of new strategies and plans that don’t always work as planned. I believe the best strategies focus on improving one or two things at a time (unless you have a really broken store) and build on those successes. If your store sells clothing, perhaps one area you could focus on for the New Year is return fraud prevention, specifically wardrobing. Alpha Shark Tags are a great way to prevent return fraud and improve inventory control.
It can be easy to forget that inventory is more than just counting what you have on hand and what your books say you should have on hand and determining the difference. Inventory takes into account damaged merchandise that has to be marked out of stock, mark down losses, vendor credits, and so much more. This is why I believe clothing retailers could significantly improve profitability by using Alpha Shark Tags. The customers who practice wardrobing are buying clothes, wearing them for an event and returning them. They have no intention of keeping the clothes and in many cases those clothes are returned in poor condition. Clothing may be returned with stains or odors from perfume, foods, deodorant, perhaps even body odor. The effect on you, the retailer is you have to try to resell the item at a price reduction losing profit margin or you are forced to mark it out of stock and toss it out altogether, losing all profit. The only recuperation you receive is in tax write offs.
When a store uses Alpha Shark Tags they can eliminate nearly all wardrobing fraud. The wardrobing tags are placed on a piece of merchandise in a visible location that cannot be covered up or concealed by the person intending to wear the item. A prime example would be placing a tag in the outer seam of a suit jacket lapel. There is no way to hide this tag from view if worn to an event, such as a dinner party. When purchased the Alpha Shark Tag remains on the merchandise and is removed by the customer once it is taken home. It is only used once and has to be cut off to be removed. A warning label can be pinned with the wardrobing tags to let the buyer be aware that once the tag removed the garment cannot be returned to the store.
Inventory results often put retailers into a reactive mode as managers see their results and begin to try to create plans for addressing their top shrink departments. I do agree that results need to be analyzed and action plans are important to address problems, but why be reactive when it is just as easy to be proactive? Using Wardrobing tags can be an immediate action that your store takes to prevent fraud you may not have paid much attention to in the past. If wardrobing has not been a significant problem it could become one if other retailers are addressing the issue and they send their problems to your location.
I once had a store manager who told me, “Focus on what YOU can control, not on what you can’t.” You can’t control the economy, and you can’t make people buy from you. You can encourage customers to shop in your store and you can provide outstanding customer service that makes people want to buy from you. You can control much of your clothing return fraud by using Alpha Shark Tags.
For more information on Alpha Shark Tags, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547