Retail theft is a major headache for any retailer. It may be an opportunist who takes a drink from a cooler and consumes it while shopping then drops it somewhere in the store and fails to pay for it. It could be a booster stealing thousands of dollars of merchandise then selling it on the street. Whatever the cause, all of it affects the profitability of the store. Retail theft prevention programs often focus on efforts to stop shoplifting, but neglect return fraud and the costly impact it has on businesses. While there are a myriad of tools available for deterring and preventing theft, preventing return fraud can be a daunting task. Using Alpha Shark Tags is one effective tool retailers may use to combat this activity.
Once upon a time I worked for a department store that sold higher end clothing lines. We had dye tags and electronic article surveillance tags on merchandise that assisted in theft deterrence, but were of little value in preventing return fraud. Since the merchandise was purchased through the point of sale the tags were properly removed or deactivated. I wish we had the Alpha Shark Tag available to us at that time. The Alpha Shark Tag is a small, brightly colored, plastic tag that is placed on clothing by the retailer. It is the purchaser who is required to remove it by cutting it off once they leave the store. It is a one-time use product and by forcing the customer to cut off the device after purchase the possibility of replacing it on the clothing and returning it is removed. The buyer can take it home, and try the merchandise on again or give it as a gift with the tag still intact. If the buyer or the gift recipient wants to return the item the tag should be required to be in place. Since the Alpha Shark Tag is so bright and visible, when properly attached to a garment, the attire cannot be worn with the intent of returning it later.
I recall the complaints of the sales associates and area managers who were responsible for processing returns of soft lines items. Often they suspected a dress or an outfit had been worn once or twice, but due to return policies of the company they were required to take the merchandise back. Now the issue was not that the item had been worn, it goes without saying there will be legitimate returns of clothing that may not fit, or simply are not a style someone prefers. The merchandise returns that angered the associates were the pieces of merchandise that smelled of perfume, cigarette smoke or other odors. The associates were well aware of items that had been purchased and worn to a party then refunded. My future wife worked in this store and educated me on what the perpetrators of the return fraud were doing. Depending on the placement of the merchandise tags, those committing the fraud would tuck the tag back in the clothing and tape it up inside the item. They might also carefully slide the tags off of the plastic attachment and when they were done wearing the item they would slip the tags back on, bring in the garment with the receipt and get their money back. I learned a lot from my wife and the other sales associates, but my hands were tied. As long as the “customer” followed the store policies, they were going to get their refund.
It is a fact that many who commit return fraud do not see themselves as doing anything wrong. They believe they are working within the guidelines established by the stores and therefore they think they are playing by the rules. The fact is, these “customers” are damaging merchandise and it is the retailer who is required to take a loss through a significant markdown or by being forced to defect the merchandise out of stock. It is a profit loss to the store either way. Companies large and small could minimize losses by implementing a strong fraud prevention program. Using Alpha Shark Tags and ensuring they are placed in a highly visible location on merchandise coupled with a clearly stated and enforced return policy will add to a store’s profit margin.
For more information about Alpha Shark Tags contact us or call 1.770.426.0547