One of the exciting parts of being in retail loss prevention, for Britt Davidson, manager of loss prevention at West Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go L.C., is crime trends are constantly changing.
“Criminals are always looking for new opportunities to cause leaks and it is up to us to identify and eliminate those opportunities,” said Davidson.
Davidson noted that statistically and nationally speaking, external theft has again surpassed internal theft—a trend he expects to continue. “Changes in EMV (chip and pin), credit card fraud and specifically card-not-present fraud, is bringing a number of challenges to all retail landscapes.”
Kum & Go, in numerous states, is helping to introduce new laws and advocate for increased penalties for skimming and credit card fraud.
Kum & Go uses a variety of technologies to address shrink and theft at its 450-plus c-stores in 11 states.
“Internally-developed, exception-based reporting helps us find our ‘leaks.’ ThinkLP, a case management software, assists with the entire investigative process, including audits and restitution efforts,” Davidson said “March, Axis and Samsung is an extensive, all IP CCTV system. We hope to implement camera analytics in 2018 to support the needs of our business partners, including customer count, dwell times and conversion rates.”
Training, communication and awareness are the foundation for a successful prevention program, Davidson said. Kum & Go is currently revamping its entire loss training curriculum, which will include training for hourly associates up to senior level positions.
Lisa LaBruno, senior vice president of retail operations for Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), noted a trend toward increased violence by shoplifting subjects, organized retail crime and gangs. “RILA is doing its part to expose retailers to cutting-edge, game-changing technology designed to address some of these evolving challenges.”
Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, prescriptive analytics and crowd sourcing are just a few of the emerging technologies retailers are leveraging.
For example, instead of placing an expensive high-shrink item on the shelf, retailers can use virtual reality to allow customers to interface with an image of the product.
“I can pick it up. I can open it…and I feel as though the product is in my hand, but it’s not,” LaBruno said.
Meanwhile, crowd sourcing is being used to identify shoplifters. People can watch live feeds into stores and if they spot a suspicious character they can tag that person’s image. If an image receives enough tags, the store would receive an alert.
While LaBruno doesn’t endorse any particular technology she said such examples show how retailers are becoming more innovative in their strategies.
“We’re exploring all angles and what’s most important is informing future development of technologies,” said LaBruno.