It is an unfortunate circumstance that retail stores of all shapes and sizes must deal with the task of securing their assets from thieves who would desire to take their hard-earned work and merchandise from them. Luckily, there are a couple of important tenets of how to prevent shoplifting that will help save your bottom line, and keep that margin as wide as possible. These two fundamental principles are: first, merchandise protection and second, employee awareness. Combining these two goals will decrease the amount of shrink due to shoplifting in a very meaningful and valuable way.
Merchandise protection is probably the single most important way to prevent theft. By this I mean physically protecting merchandise with various forms of security devices and checkpoint tags. From small retail stores, to large big-box companies, protecting the merchandise in the store is the first and most important line of defense and it takes care of several things.
First, it acts as a terrific deterrent. Most commonly, shoplifters are the types of criminals who will do anything to avoid being noticed or discovered. The shoplifters have the ability to “shop around” for the easiest target location. More often than not, if they determine that all of your merchandise is adequately protected, they will move on to another store.
Secondly, they often times will damage any merchandise from which they are removed improperly. Now, this may at first sound like a bad thing but it will make the shoplifter think twice about trying to defeat the device, and send them on their way. In the cases of alarming cables or spider-wrap devices, even if they do not damage the merchandise while being removed, they will make it very obvious to everyone around that someone is attempting to steal. This will scare off just about any shoplifter.
When employee awareness is added into the mix, you have a recipe for a great, foundational theft prevention system. It is important to train your associates on what behaviors are abnormal from shoppers. There are various telling behaviors, known as red flags or alert signals, that can tip off store associates that something isn’t right.
These behaviors can be anything from carrying a large, empty purse or bag to looking around suspiciously, as if they are watching out for employees or other customers. These two examples might be considered ‘soft’ alert signals – they indicate that this shopper may not be a normal shopper, but they may also still be legitimate. But looking up at the ceiling for cameras or selecting merchandise without any concern for the price or style are what might be considered ‘hard’ alert behaviors – they are very indicative of someone’s intention to steal. Combine soft alert behaviors with hard alert behaviors and you have a pretty safe bet that someone is intending to steal.
I can recall countless times where, as a loss prevention detective, I was able to identify an individual attempting to shoplift solely based upon the fact that they were attempting to remove merchandise security devices. I was able to prevent shoplifting and recover the merchandise because the shoplifter had to get through the security device.
When your store’s merchandise is secured with protective devices, and your employees are trained to recognize odd behavior, your store is well insulated from theft. It is likely that shoplifters desperate enough to attempt to defeat the security devices will be noticed by store employees and, when confronted or even just provided with great customer service, will leave without any merchandise.
For more information contact us at Prevent Shoplifting or call 1.770.426.0547