While working today in retail loss prevention, scanning the sales floor looking for suspicious people, I came across a couple walking toward the bedding department, one male carrying a box of expensive boots. I found out that one of my colleagues had been watching them earlier and had noticed some very strange behavior in the shoe department. The next thing I know, the man and woman walk past an exterior exit, stop dead in their tracks, and double-back down an aisle. I then see the man say something to the woman, and hand her his car keys. She then walks in the other direction and heads out of the store.
Oh great. I have seen this before. I anticipate that this is going to be another grab-and-run on this pair of boots. I have no proof that this man is shoplifting these boots. After all, I did not see him take them off of the shelf, but I have a pretty good idea of what he is up to. So what do I do? In the asset protection and loss prevention business, we call it “the Burn.” Basically, the idea is to let the potential shoplifter know that they are being observed, without creating any sorts of accusations of theft, in order to prevent shoplifting. For me, it simply involved talking on the phone with my colleague, watching the man, making eye contact a few times, and tailing him from a distance in the store (while pretending to shop of course).
What do you know? It worked! After being fed up with my following him, and him telling me that I am “terrible at my job,” he left the shoes at the counter to “put on hold”, and he left the store, entering the vehicle that was being driven by the same woman from earlier, who was parked immediately outside of the same doors against the curb. Not everyone has a loss prevention team or even a single employee, so what good is “the Burn” for those stores?
The same concept can be applied with uniformed, ordinary employees with one main difference; the potential shoplifter is given the best customer service imaginable! Can you think of a better way to prevent shoplifting? It goes like this: an employee notices suspicious activity, and thinks that a shopper may be trying to steal. She approaches the customer, makes eye contact, and can even make a merchandise-specific comment to the customer like, “Would you like me to ring those boots at the register for you?” or “I noticed that you were looking at lots of men’s jeans. May I recommend a style or find you a size?” On top of this, it is best to continue to provide great service until either the customer buys, or the shoplifter leaves empty-handed.
The best thing about this approach to shoplifting prevention is that if an employee is perhaps mistaken about someone’s intentions to purchase or steal, there are no accusations made to offend the customer, only friendly statements to make their experience better! Likewise, shoplifters do not want to be noticed by store staff in most situations; this will make them likely to be scared away. It is a win-win!
So the next time you see that shady character in the corner with a big bag and some of your merchandise, or someone who just looks lost or confused, try to Burn them! Well, you know what I mean.
For more information contact us: Prevent Shoplifting or call 1.770.426.0547