Many time we retailers focus on the more obvious issues when dealing with shoplifters. Most of the time this is about “who” they are. But if our stores do not have a solid foundation before we open the doors each day we are spending our time chasing shoplifters instead of preventing them from stealing in the first place. Here are a few things to consider:
- Merchandise Presentation – How are your higher theft items such as small high value items displayed? Are they hidden from your staffs view? Are they located in out of the way areas or dark corners? Consider moving merchandise like this to main aisles or near the POS.
- Display Neatness – Stand back and take an objective look. Is your store neat and clean or is it a…mess? Merchandise on shelves should be organized and neat. Shelves should be clean and not full of dust, old signs or clutter. If your merchandise is not organized then the shoplifter will know that it is unlikely you will notice something is missing until they are long gone. It also presents an attitude to them that you are not organized at all. So how would you even catch them?
- Openness – Is your store dark and packed tight? Or are the shelves down at a level that allows the average person to see over them. Have you created areas that allow shoplifters time to conceal your merchandise? Keep all lighting in good repair and burned out bulbs should be replaced immediately.
- Signs – This is one that always makes me laugh when I see them. Signs that say that shoplifters will be prosecuted or the like are worthless. The only time they should be in a store is if they are required by law. Shoplifters don’t care or even pay attention to them. It is hard enough to get a legitimate customer to pay attention to your signage for sales and specials. If you think that a shoplifter is afraid of a sign or the concept it portrays you do not understand how shoplifters think.
- Stockroom Access – Stockrooms are generally not for customer access. But what better place for a shoplifter to steal. Merchandise is generally organized and grouped together. High shelving, poor lighting and tight aisles make this an ideal place for concealment. It is very unlikely that they would be seen by a customer and employees are generally in and out quickly. If they are found a simple “I am looking for the restroom” is all they need to say.
- POS Placement – The location of your Point Of Sale is not only critical to your legitimate customers but to shoplifters for mostly the same reasons. Is it out of the way? Is it convenient for customer service? The cash/wrap counter is generally a magnet to your staff. Many spend time there even when they are not busy. Does this give them a strategic view of the store? Your staff should have a good view of as much of the store as possible.
- Electronic Article Surveillance – EAS such as a Checkpoint system is a “force multiplier”. A Checkpoint system is designed to allow your staff to be everywhere they need to be watching merchandise without actually being there. Alpha 2 Alarm and 3 Alarm tags will go into alarm if the shoplifter tries to remove them from the merchandise. A Checkpoint system allows you to have less labor on the floor and keep shoplifting to a minimum. Of course this does not address the issue of good customer service which is also key in shoplifting prevention.